Burt Glinn 1925-2008

Burt Glinn, One of the first American photographers joined Magnum Photos passed away on the early morning of April 9th, 2008.

Below is his short bio derived from Magnum Blog:

“Versatile and technically brilliant, Glinn was one of Magnum’s great corporate and advertising photographers. He had received numerous awards for his editorial and commercial photography, including the Best Book of Photographic Reporting from Abroad from the Overseas Press Club and the Best Print Ad of the Year from the Art Directors Club of New York. Glinn has served as president of the American Society of Media Photographers. He was president of Magnum between 1972 and 1975, and was re-elected to the post in 1987.”

Philip Jones Griffiths 1936-2008

Yet another veteran photojournalist passed away, and this time it is the one I respect the most. 

Philip Jones Griffiths, a veteran war photographer who made his fame capturing the brutality during the Vietnam War passed away on 18th of March, 2008 after years of struggle with cancer. His compelling images which later became a well-known book Vietnam Inc. challenge the attitude towards the war in the US.  His images and his book had profound influence on me in storytelling with photographs and helped me to be a better photo narrator. But what’s more important is that his book Vietnam Inc. left a lasting legacy even today because if you look at the words in the book and compare to the situation in Iraq you’ll find a close resemblance as to the philosophical approach between the two.
My condolences goes to Philip, his close ones and friends at Magnum

Embracing Obstacles

About two weeks ago I had a chance through my colleague at work place to photograph a wedding. Though it  was a freebie because the client only wish for video service which my colleague does, it gave me a chance to have some wedding photographs of my own to show potential clients in the future. But photographs aside, through this wedding I was finally able to embrace an obstacle I had on photographing weddings. Something I had purposely avoid for years.

Back in the days when I began to study photography my very first job was assisting a photographer who owns a wedding studio in Southern California. It was mentally and psychically draining job because this particular studio serve mostly Chinese weddings(To gave you some idea Chinese/Taiwanese weddings usually runs about 8-10 hours because there’re more ceremonies to go through), which means we usually spent the entire day running around places and by the time it was over it’s almost mid-night. Salary was pathetic for the obvious fact that I was on student visa and they can’t really hire me. Adding to the matter worse the boss is a very short-tempered man and for a smallest mistake he would yelled at you for hours(Only years later I heard through family that he suffered from depression, which explained his temper). Finally after little over than three months it was too much for me to take so I resigned.
Years after I left this studio I had several people asked me if I photograph weddings, especially here in Vancouver. But I always trying to avoid doing weddings for the unpleasant experience I had back in the US(even though I’ve done something more stressful in the past six years). It was not until sometime ago I began to play around with the idea again because wedding photography is quiet a significant sector in Vancouver. In addition I was trying to incorporate wedding photography with my own style. But what’s more important is that this time I’m not working under anyone so there won’t be a boss yelling at me. And this led to the wedding I photographed two weeks ago.
The result? Well……you’ll be the judge…..

When Photographer Meets Would Be Educators…..

The photographer was applauded by the physical appearance of these potential young teachers…..

Well, not exactly…..but I was having a bit of trouble picturing these university grads teaching in elementary schools, which is the program allow them to do once they’re complete. They’re more conscious about their looks and they’re very intimidating when it comes to communicating, which is somewhat common among people who work in this sector (my parents in law who work in the Ministry of Education in Korea share some of these characters, for example). But their physical appearance…..let’s just put this way…..they’re so damn hot!!! And they’re not afraid to show off their bodies if I allowed them to.
This is when I wished I hadn’t had my elementary school in Asia and wished these people are my teachers…..
But again, do I really want to?

From Vietnam to Paris

I’m sure everybody in the media would be frustrated by the constant exposure of entertainment news which by now filled our magazine stands, TVs and webs. This booming sector of news also generate battalions of paparazzis devote to capture images of celebrities in the most humiliating way in order to feed the hungry mass. Worst still with digital capture device widely available almost anyone can have a chance to get a picture of celebrities’ ugly side(That is if you seen one).

A while ago I was watching a documentary on CBC talking about the phenomenon. Though I was aware of this long ago but watching how far down this sector had become just make me shook my head away. But what really hits me is the article published not so long ago by Telegraph that draws comparison of two photographs shot by the same photographer Nick Ut. The first photograph was captured in 1972 in Vietnam where Nick photographed a 9 yeas old Vietnamese girl striped naked running toward him after she got burned by napalm bombs. The second one was captured recently which crying Paris Hilton was sitting behind the police patrol car in LA. Both photographs marks his career as a photographer but at the same time symbolized the change in mass culture.
To learn more about the article please visit www.telegraph.co.uk or click here
By the way, as if this is not chaotic enough an American cable network has been planning on airing a reality TV show in which photogs compete to get a ‘money shot’ of celebrities. This has been in production for sometime now and don’t know(or don’t wanna know?) if it is on air now…..

Happy New Year(Sort Of)

2007 is something of nightmare for me. From diarrhea while working on the project in Florida to collapse of my agency……….It seems like nothing is going well with the life I’m trying to pursue. Though financially income grew steadily compare to 2006 thanks to the job I resent.

But just when you think it would be better on 2008 psychics gave you a shitty forecast: 2008 will be even worse than 2007. Seems like I’ll embrace waves of troubles and disasters yet again for the coming months.
And I guess this is probably why I don’t make new year resolution this year  – knowing that things will not improve any time soon any resolution I make now will not be fulfilled. But I do have a one hope which i made a while ago – leaving the job I currently on and doing something I’m really passionate about and make a living out of it.
Well, guess I’ll stop ranting over here and instead wish everyone a very happy new year. And may all the resolutions you make be fulfilled before 2009.

Black Out

It’s always suck to work during the holiday season, specially when there’s not enough people working during this time and customers come like herds with variety of requests that overwhelm you. It would not be so much headache if it is something you feel passionate about. But when it’s not then this will turn into your worst nightmare.

This is exactly what I was experiencing in the last two weeks – Photographing hundreds of potential grads from universities who decide to show up en masse with their family and friends and expecting me to take a good casual or group photo of them in 10 minutes. In the meantime we had very few people working through holidays but at the same time appointments were booked beyond the capacity of three photogs per shift. Yet, because this studio is having people crunch since October so they were having hard time even finding someone to relief us. I personally had to work through weekends without any day off for the past week. The amount of work in this studio during the holiday season was so enormous that some of photogs were murmuring about walkout during the job among themselves to prove their frustration.
But then just when we were about to reach the boiling point a miracle happened. On Saturday night while we were photographing customers some car 10-15 blocks away hit the power grid which caused a section of the city blacked out. The damage to the grid was so extensive that it took 2-3 hours for BC Hydro to put the power back on, which forced us to close down the studio early……very early. To the eye of the owner, which was there at the time, this blows because he lost revenue for a day(that’s all he sees). But to me at least I’m more than happy to sacrifice profit just for one night for some good rest…..which I haven’t had one for a long while.
By the way, I have to photograph all day on Dec. 31st……which in the way ruined my new year’s eve plan….thanks a lot. 

Achromatic World Through My Glass

I’ve been known among my circle of friends for my color photographs. And it is true that most of works I’ve done over the years are in color. However, between assignments and projects I often photograph my surroundings in black and white and kept as visual journal of some sort. Gradually, these images of monochrome became a collection significant enough for me not to ignore and yet does not hold any editorial or commercial values. So after some thoughts I decide to share them here and let you see the other side of the world I see when I “off assignment”

Interesting enough though I tell you images were captured off assignment but when you’re not leaving your camera behind are you really “off assignment”? 

Sub-Tropical Boy In The North Country…..

It has been little more than two years since I’ve been in Vancouver and though for the most part I’ve somewhat adopted the life here, there is still aspects of life which I still having hard time to cope with. Of all things I can’t cope with living in Vancouver winter is perhaps on the top of the list……although its not the physical environment of the winter I despised.

Being lived in many part of the world from tropics to temperate climate I could say I’m very good at adopting weathers regardless of hot humid sun or snow(though my preferable weather has always been ones similar to San Francisco). To prove my point I spent last two winters under the snow both in Canada and South Korea and though its troublesome when it comes to commuting and shelving but I absolutely love the scenery. But I guess it’s all the warm clothes wrapped around me or the cozy room temperature or something I always felt as if I entered into “hybernation mode” when winter hits. It gets worse further up north I go(well…duh….) even being busy working would not make my sleepy lazy head go away.
Anyway, according to weather tomorrow’s going to snow……..hope I’ll be conscious enough to realize I wrote post this blog tonight.