At rest among weeds, was where I found the flower pictured above. In the crook of a small mountain valley in Damyang sat an overgrown patch of garden. What at one time was row upon row of bean plants contained, when I found it, only spare remnants of its former form and function. Neatly manicured rows now bleed into one another with a force that reminds the casual gardener that his efforts only temporarily mask the land which he works. Interspersed among the greenery were fresh stalks of thick, rugged grass. In all, around a dozen or so of these spires jutted up higher than the broad leaves beneath.
I only tithed around ten minutes and a half a dozen exposures to this forsaken garden space. After all, I thought, there were bound to be sights more accommodating to my personal tastes uphill. So, I knelled down, took my obligatory snaps, and moved on; out of sight, out of mind. Yes, there were bigger and subjectively better sights up on the ridge. A fine view over the valley dotted with the rooftops of Buk-gu beyond. A few neatly manicured grave sights and even the rear end of a small deer fleeing my unannounced presence on the hillside. I had some tea; had a smoke, and thought for a brief moment about how good it was to be. A good day. I was not, however, practicing photography.
When developing the film a month later, I realized that all but six of the images on that roll of Ilford Super XP were complete garbage; cliché. The best of which were worthy only of an infomercial advertising marriage counseling at 2am on public access tv. When looking again, the only images which I could feel that sense of discovery, of unexpected awe at what life may bring before the lens were those from the garden. The above image is, again, one of those. When seeing it for the first time, and now again when posting, it serves as a reminder. The flower gently strangling the stalk of grass was not planted by human hands. Yet it found its way there as part of the land degardening itself. I had not expected to find it, nor many other surprises within this miniature world. Yet my camera remained with an eye more open and curious than I was consciously aware. The image, and memory of this experience reminds me one again, what photography is. In my better moments, I can only hope to tag along.
[The photo above was taken using my Nikon FE2 with a Tamron 90mm f2.8 Macro shooting Ilford Super XP.]
(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)