Thursday, February 24, 2011
My friendship with Amy has a solid foundation that is based on our mutual consumption of tea. We both love the stuff! Hot or cold, with milk or without, flavoured or non - it was how our friendship started and I thought that it would only be fitting for our last photo shoot to be around it.
Part of the reason why the two of us love tea as much as we do (well aside, from my mother force-feeding it to me while I was growing up) is that Korea has the most gorgeous, fun tearooms I have ever been into. Forget sitting in a straight backed chair, sipping Ceylon out of bone-china. Instead, picture yourself sitting on brightly coloured cushions hidden in nooks and crannies and surrounded by chandeliers of multi-coloured crystal. Picture yourself in a room splattered with sickeningly sweet pink and looking out at the passers by while you sip your tea and indulge in delightful icecream sundaes.
I decided to take advantage of one of these picturesque cafes and Amy and I chose Noriter, which has recently opened a second branch in Shinae. With props in hand, we entered the cafe and chose our poisons (mine being a Cinnamon Hot Chocolate just for a change of pace). After finding a seat under a staircase and making ourselves comfortable, the shoot started with Amy pretending to study and *ahem* "pretending" to graffiti the table and underside of the staircase. I think that the other customers must have been a bit freaked out by our incessant laughter, but that is always the case when Amy and I get together - Korea should be used to it by now.
There are two things that I am going to miss about Korea more than anything else - the tea rooms... and the photographic opportunites. Oh, and Amy. Who actually ranks above everything else.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
From the moment I saw the umbrella, I knew that I wanted it to be mine. The fact that it belonged to Amy Jenkins, my KBFF (or Korean Best Friend Forever for those who are not so in touch with the lingo), was the only thing that prevented me from stealing it. If it had been anyone else's it would have been gone within minutes and hours later, the owner would have been scratching their head or tearing their apartment apart in the search for it.
What made this umbrella so special (aside from belonging to Amy, of course)? I had three umbrellas already! What was it about this one that drew me in? Well the colour had something to do with it. The bright red broken by white hearts and compounded by a black stem all melded together to create the perfect combination of colours to make me want to have it. But what was even cooler was the way that it twisted open. It reminded me a little of the cocktail umbrellas that you sometimes get in drinks, and I wanted it!
What makes Amy so special that I wouldn't have taken it from her? Well, as I said earlier, she is my KBFF, and she is that for a million and one different reasons that will all probably sound really silly to anyone but the two of us. All that I know is that stealing it from her would be like stealing something from myself – hurtful, pointless and just plain silly. Instead of stealing it, I decided to capture it on film together with it's owner.
The umbrella required glamour – not just any t-shirt and jeans or sundress would have done it justice, which Amy well understood. She returned from Australia prepared and triumphant, bearing a gorgeous and, we discovered, rather revealing (for Korea at least) dress. It was perfect! The black contrasted wonderfully with the red and we just happened to do the shoot on a day when the sun was shining brightly and it was possible to wear a sleeveless summer dress without catching frostbite.
We started in the park where Amy made friends with some of the trees and rocks, posing away for me and my camera. Soon it was time for the umbrella to make its much anticipated appearance, and I captured shots of Amy walking along bridges, sitting on rocks, posing as Mary Poppins and just plain having fun – you could tell by the wide smile on her face and the non-stop laughter that was emanating from our direction causing the local ajummas and ajoshis to be rather alarmed. When our imagination had run dry, Amy took out a book and started posing with that instead until she spied one of her students and we decided that enough photos had been taken in the park. Instead we walked down to the river, which wasn't nearly as beautiful as it had been just a few days before when it had been frozen over, and took a few shots there before going home.
Because the river wasn't quite the way we had expected it to be, our second shoot (which would have had a winter theme) was put on hold, and we are currently trying to think up a second shoot that we can do before I leave on Friday evening. So check back here soon for more photos of Amy.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
New York, United States of America
When I was in university, I always aspired to be what was fondly referred to as a woman who spoke out. I wanted to have my own voice, and I wanted to use it. I wanted to be independent, confident, sexy and smart. Today, when I think of the women that I know, there is one who definitely sticks out in my mind as encompassing all of those attributes. From the moment I met Shaina Ricketts, I knew that she was a force to be reckoned with. Loud, confident and not prepared to face anyone's shit, Shai is ready to face anything that life can throw at her.
Shai and I had three shoots together focussing on three different aspects of her life. The first was a shoot in the gym where Shai has spent most of her time over the last few months. Dressed in some colourful, sexy attire, Shai started her workout, even going so far as to run on the treadmill in her black thigh-high stilettos, while I snapped away and tried to capture the energy that emanated from her. It was a tad unfortunate that the gym was not too aesthetically pleasing, but I decided to take what I could get and tried to make the best of it. Thankfully, Shai was more than willing to oblige, and the two of us had fun huffing and puffing to try and get it all done (yes, even me – I was climbing on chairs and getting myself into some awkard positions after all).
Once we were all worked out it was time to take some simplistic shots trying to focus on blacks, greys and whites and just trying to get some good portraits to show the person that Shai is without any props, without any distractions – just Shai being Shai. Laughter rang through the hallways as we chatted away about life and Shai rattled off in her adoring way about Rob, absent-mindedly glancing at the bracelet and necklace that had been presents from him. The way her whole face lit up when she thought of him was something that I was lucky to capture on (digital) film, and these ended up being some of my favourites photos of the day.
We decided to make the last shoot an outdoor one and took full advantage of the afternoon sunlight and brief warmth to take some fun photos in the park. This brought out Shai's playful side perfectly as she hung off bars, slid down slides, climbed jungle gyms and played soccer with the boys just to give me some great, colourful, fun shots to work with. I was glad to catch a glimpse of the fun Shai that I have come to know and love. I took full advantage of that, snapping away as many photos as I could and even sneakily taking a video of her playing soccer.
With her (sometimes brutal) honesty, Shaina always with the best intentions and over my time in Korea, I have come to know her as someone who can be trusted with any secret and who will be there for you in any time of need, usually armed with a positive outlook on the situation and a smile that is so contagious, you will find yourself laughing in minutes no matter what the problem was. It was this contagious smile, this strong, confident, bold woman that I wanted to capture during my photo shoot, and I like to believe that I succeeded. Hopefully the photos will speak for themselves.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Leicester, United Kingdom
The first word that sprang into my mind when I met Ross was a fairly obvious one - “short”. It was the first thing that I noticed about him, and I was quite fond of pointing it out. Being the shortest of my friends, it was nice to find someone who could make me feel a little taller (if not just more normal) than usual. The rest of the evening was spent calling him “Little Man” and it was only somewhere around 11pm that I actually learned his name. He didn't take it too seriously, and that night was the beginning of a great friendship.
When I first thought about putting together a portfolio of my pictures, Ross was the first to jump in with both feet and suggest a photo shoot. It would be my first attempt at a photo shoot and, not being a particularly bossy person (though I am sure that some people will disagree on that front) I was not used to telling people what to do. I had become used to taking fortuitous shots – seizing the moment when it would let me, and this meant that I had become used to blurred shots as people turned to talk to someone else, shots where peoples eyes were closed, shots that basically did not come out the way that I had imagined them, but were captured moments nonetheless. Making my own moment to capture would be something completely different – I could position the person, tell them what to wear, how to stand, where to look, what to do, and it was a sense of power that I would have to become accustomed to if I ever wanted to be a pro. Ross was going to be my photography crash-test dummy, taking the brunt of my insecurity and nervous uncertainty and therefore having to bounce from place to place as new ideas entered my mind.
First thing was first – a wardrobe needed to be decided upon. I had a couple of different ideas for my photo shoot with Ross, and only ended up using two of them. The first was to bring out his debonair side by dressing him up in a suit and gangster-style hat and taking him to what is fondly referred to as Fish-Bone bridge for some shots of him looking out over the city, smoking cigars and generally just playing around. One of my favourites from this shoot is a picture where he was trying to hold smoke in with a serious face and started coughing, quickly leading to laughter. It is the kind of one-of-a-kind picture that captures a personality perfectly.
The second shoot was definitely a fun one – I had found a graffiti-ed area downtown and took him there with his second set of casual clothes – jeans, a hoodie and a t-shirt – and started snapping brightly coloured shots in different positions. As the area was rather small, there was a limited number of shots that could be taken, but I took them all and had fun doing so, and I think so did he. The cheeky side of his personality shone through and it ended up being a lot of fun.
I learned a lot about Ross that first night that we met. Soon the first words that came to mind when I thought of Ross were “rocket scientist”, “cheeky” and “witty”, and I think that the pictures I ended up taking capture those sides of his personality more than the title of “Little Man” ever could.