Capturing the World in a Photo
Photographer, Lee Jung-hyun
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From the 1st to the 15th of April, a photo exhibition called ESSE was held at the Incheon Art Platform by a photographer, Lee Jung-hyun (English Language and Literature, ’13). Lee is a photographer full of willpower who traveled around 18 countries for 654 days, starting with less than 100,000 won. Through just 27 pictures out of the 20,000 pictures he edited, he developed a storyline of his journey, and successfully finished his photo exhibition.
Starting from scratch
Lee lived his life as an English instructor in his early and mid-twenties, earning more than seven million won per month. After his military service, however, he felt despondent about his life, and decided to escape from his initial life. “I just didn’t want to search for a normal job, nor did I think I was suited to an organizational environment as I learned during my military experiences,” said Lee. He had interest in photography, and wished to test whether he wholeheartedly liked this hobby through the trip. Therefore, he booked his ticket to China, got his visa, and blindly started off on his journey.
“I had exactly 73,432 won in my bank account when I got on the plane,” reminisced Lee. He received 500 dollars of support in Beijing, as it was his second hometown since he had lived there for nine years to study. Then he left to Southeast Asia, barely surviving every single day. He traveled with three promises to himself. First, not to earn money directly from photography; second, to receive sponsorship with gratitude; and lastly, to keep this promise for at least a year. “I believed that I could be certain I loved photography if I could love this for over a year, without any relations of loss or gain,” explained Lee.
He would live in a guesthouse as a staff member, so that he could solve his accommodation issues. Then, he took pictures of all guests visiting the guesthouse, thoroughly edited them, and gave printed copies of the pictures with a sincere note. He didn’t receive any payment for these actions, but he frequently received financial support from the people who were deeply impressed by his pictures after they left the guesthouse. Lee would receive questions from his acquaintances asking why he put all his effort into the pictures. “If I couldn’t do my best in something I believe I love the most, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to do anything else,” said Lee.
Focusing on the goal
After his 654 day journey, he successfully finished his photo exhibition. He had millions of photos, but could easily select the 27 pictures he wanted to use in his exhibition. “There are a lot more people who take better photos than me. However, I believe that the people who can successfully have exhibitions are the people who have their own sincere story to tell through their photos,” explained Lee. The name of his exhibition, ESSE, is a Latin word for "being present," which leads to the word essence. He believes that living life as itself, possessing and dividing when needed, without obsession is the best method to live one’s life’s essence.
Now Lee is living his life as a wedding photographer and a photography lecturer. However, while he takes wedding photos, he dislikes made-up concept photos. “The couples might not like the photos made naturally, since they probably don’t look as pretty as they wished to. However, these photos would be the ones that have the most to talk about in the future, since they have unique episodes in each cut,” said Lee. Lee will continue to take photos with stories and a firm subject in each cut now, and in the future, to tell everyone about each and every story in all photos.
On Jung-yun email@example.com
Photos by Kang Cho-hyun
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