“Street Photography and My Past” 05
A subway prayer.
My job requires me to travel a good deal. These days it has been more than it ever has been. Not a bad thing, but certainly a tiring one at times. The past three weeks I feel like I have been living in airports. I think in the last three weeks I have been on 8 flights. I’ve had to resort to making FaceTime video calls to my wife so I can experience a bit of her warm and gentle reassuring face. I love traveling though. For an fairly introverted person, I surprisingly enjoy striking up conversations with total strangers. I noticed I tend to be more adventurous in this way when I am traveling and less so when I’m home. I don’t know exactly why that is, but perhaps it’s partly because traveling to new places keep me off balanced (something I actually value about traveling) so a part of me is like, well I’m out of my element so why the hell not just go all out and move out of my comfort zone. Traveling keeps me from becoming too static and provides a release valve from the daily repetitive routine of home life. It reminds me that I value a life lived fully awake and of holding small moments with a soft and introspective heart.
This isn’t to say that daily living isn’t something to be valued. On the contrary, more than ever in my life, I hugely value the idea of being deeply routed in a community and in my actual current community. I miss my family and friends and my familiar walking paths when I’m away from them too long. I miss my church and the people there who helped me believe once again that love and action should be at the heart of all our considerations and discussions. I miss my youth group kids, although flawed (after all they’re teenagers) just like the rest of us, who’s goodness causes me to believe that our future may just be okay after all and often make me want to live better—HM, TayTay, Brit, and V, I love and care about you guys deeply. In fact I actually got my start in photography and built my work documenting the rich daily lives of the people around me. Of seeing and capturing a much deeper narrative in the small moments in the lives of “normal” people than those moments might have suggested at first glance. I’m simply saying that for whatever reason, I’ve always had a deep rooted itch for adventure and genuine curiosity about people and the often complex lives they lead. Traveling for a living with my camera affords me the opportunity to explore those two interests of mine. For that I am grateful.
So why the title of this post (Street Photography and My Past)?
Street Photography because I can’t think of another form of photography that fills me with as much fear, joy and is as visually stimulating as street photography to feed my adventurous spirit. I don’t know about you, but when I’m walking around, I’m constantly witness to scenes where I’m like, gosh I love this small little moment of grace, sadness, joy or humor! It makes me want to memorialize it and share it with the world and with the very subjects I’m photographing as a way of saying to them and you, see, look here, what you might think is mundane and unimportant can at times be beautiful or poignant! It’s why I often have a camera with me and partly why I left a good paying job in technology to pursue a career as a documentary photographer.
The Past because sitting in so many airports theses days I’ve had much time to be reflective about my past (that is in-between editing and sending off images to my editors and clients). For reasons that are very clear to me these days, whenever I see a airplane takeoff, land or find myself on them, I find that I nearly always become introspective about my current life and my past. Sitting at airports these past few weeks caused me to be reflective of my first flight ever as an 8 1/2 year old from Korea to American. A deep life altering flight that said that I was no longer an orphan. A flight that said I was no longer motherless and fatherless. A flight that said I no longer had to be mistreated by others. A flight that said love and generosity are just as powerful as pain and selfishness. A flight that said….I’m home.
The last time I was back in Korea was for an assignment for Compassion International (below is a photo of the cover story I shot for them) a couple of years back. They are an amazing organization working to fight for children living in poverty among many other great initiatives around the world. When I’m on assignment I’m often working long hours (sometime 12-14 hour days) for days or weeks so I rarely get “free time” to truly see my new surrounding beyond the scope of my assignment. However, Korea was a bit different and as a result I was able to indulge in some street photography while working there. As a way to memorialize (even if it’s just for me alone) my thoughts on my career and that of my past, I’ve decided to share some unpublished street photos from my time there. In looking over my archives I noted that I have many photos that I have never shared or published (not only from this assignment, but from many of my other assignments). Now felt like a good time as any to get those Korean street photos out and say to those of you viewing them here and to myself, see? our mundane lives holds great valuable and can often be beautiful.
The cover story I was shooting for Compassion during this assignment.