This post speaks in part to the photographers among us. To start off, if you have ever taken smartphone photos of some found object you deemed strange, interesting, or click-bait-worthy, you qualify. While taken through a high-end, somewhat vintage, German-engineered piece of glass, the image above nevertheless occurred for just such a reason. As many of you readers no doubt already know, looking for strange visual occurrences in the countryside outside Gwangju is a favorite pastime for this photographer. As such, I have a soft spot for images which seem slightly out of place, or somehow interrupt what I personally expect to find in a given scene. As such, note this week’s photo above.
This image was taken along your typical rice-pattied homestead near Wando several weeks ago. Far from touristy, the only folks under seventy years of age can be seen fleeing the scene in their white SUV to image right. As such, I was left with amidst several farmers hunched over their crops, two stray dogs, a still smoldering trash-heap, and a streetlamp who apparently just wanted to be loved.
Looking quite out of place, the lamp above had clearly seen better days. Its single remaining light was hanging by a thread with shattered remnants of lightbulbs still visible on the ground below. In fact, when taking note of the surrounding landscape, its purpose was still not clear. If my projections were clear, I knew, and still often know how it felt. At times, my existence as an expat photographer can be summarized as merely the result of another person’s wishful thinking. Many times I also have stood at awkward, wounded attention as things changed around me in a way which I could neither understand nor adapt to. Yet, just like it, there seemed little else to do but to stay where I was planted. (Perhaps, at such times, it is the only ground we know.) All of these thoughts aside, it melted my heart to see that someone had adorned the post with the vest above. Sure, it may be an old farmer’s means of scaring away that one last, pesky, crow. However, I will stick with my own naivety, and be glad in the knowledge that even dilapidated lampposts sometimes just need a hug.
[Image taken with a Contax T2 shooting Kodak Portra 800.]
(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)