Your work such as Better Days is best viewed at a large scale, and I see that you’ve used very large prints in past exhibitions? Do you think consciously about the differences between online and physical gallery viewing when you create your work?
My focus has largely been on the context of exhibitions and publications, but nowadays I also perceive the importance of online.
You studied photography at Sangmyung University and then at Korea National University of Arts? What do you think was the biggest benefit of a university education in photography, rather than following a self-taught path?
I think it’s a big advantage that I have a general understanding of analog and digital photography, the history of image-making, commercial and art photography, and so on. It helps me pinpoint exactly where I am as a photographer and set the direction of my work.
And how is Seoul since the COVID-19 pandemic? I suppose that we won’t see the types of scene you depict in Better Days for some time… Has it impacted your way of working?
You’re right, I’m working on other series now, working within the constraints this new reality presents.
What’s the one piece of advice you wish you could go back in time and give to your younger self, or would pass on to other aspiring documentary photographers?
I think it’s important to take time and shoot alone and deeply explore the questions ‘why do I have to photograph this?’ and ‘what do I really want to talk about?’. It’s crucial to find a real interest and to have a coherent perspective throughout the work that comes from it.
And finally, what’s keeping you busy right now?
A constant cycle. I search for and photograph my interests and then develop, scan, retouch and print. And then I order more 4×5 film from B&H and repeat.