As expats, when we arrive in a new place we are most often in tourist mode. We happily visit those places that everyone goes to. We see the things that everyone sees. We take the pictures that everyone takes. Sooner or later however, we reach a point where things start to look the same. This is especially true in Korea. We all have many pictures of temples, of markets, of food stalls on the side of the road.
In the course of our daily lives we tread the beaten path from home to work and back again. On the weekends we often perpetuate a cycle of late nights and sleeping in. We see the same things on a day-to-day basis and we feel the need to travel further to see and photograph something new and exciting. So, where is the next challenge?
It may be closer than you think.
I was out walking one weekend a couple of weeks ago when I spied a small Buddhist shrine behind a couple of buildings. Nothing unusual in that you might think, but it was a place I had been walking past almost every day for the last 2 years. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before. It hammered home the point that if we keep our eyes open there are great photographic opportunities all around us.
So keep a watchful eye out in the course of your daily commute. Whether you walk, take the bus or whatever, pay attention. You never know what new and interesting things are passing you by unnoticed. Take a different route. Wander off the beaten track a little. Go to the ‘old’ places, but use them as a starting point for perhaps navigating some back alleys and streets nearby. You will probably see some things you haven’t seen before, meet some interesting people and be presented with some unique and interesting photographic opportunities. Visit the usual places at night, things look very different during the evening hours and are often inhabited by a very different kind people.
As an alternative, instead of looking for different things close to home, look at the things close to home in a different way. Try a different lens. A wide or ultra-wide lens makes a big difference to how we view the world and presents some unique photographic challenges.
The most important things are to keep your eyes open, be prepared to take a detour now and again, and to continue to take photos.
By Aaron Raisey