This week denotes a small milestone in the long life of the photography blog. Today marks my one hundredth post since taking over on Mondays two years ago. Since the spring of 2015, so many Sundays have been spent in part reflecting on noteworthy aspects on a visual-cultural experience of Gwangju, and Jeolla-do on the whole. While I have had several blogs in the past, this two year stretch marks the first time when I have done the deed ritually on a weekly basis.
I have always been an avid note-taker and journaler, writing down impressions and other thoughts as they came, or using writing as a nightly exercise to synthesize the days’ experiences. However, the ninety-nine posts prior to this one have rekindled that unique sensation that comes from organizing your thoughts for an audience. To be frank, that feeling can best currently be described as both emotionally taxing, yet also through mere repetition, comforting. I have been reminded of the wisdom of no escape. That there is indeed something to be gained from showing up, ready or not, to write once a week because well, I said I would. As such, this weekly photo blog has helped me to make sense of what life in Gwangju feeds to me on a day-to-day basis. Using photography as both a documentary and figurative medium seems an appropriate tool with which to respond to what this city often thrusts upon us. For while we are reminded of what sensations initially permeated the scene the moment we captured an image, we also look at these same emotions in the light of how we feel, at the time of looking again on our computers. I feel that the gap between these two is where our deeper impressions of life here can grow.
I took the photo above when walking down a small side-street just south of the train station. The sun was cascading down the alley, alighting rows of old, shuttered stores. I love these neighborhoods. They allow for such relative predictable silence. As these streets are usually devoid of foot-traffic, they allow a degree of physical space to accompany their sonic solitude. If these moments would occur more often, the would no-doubt loose their magic. Yet, on this day, there was no shortage. For as I rounded the corner, and looked to the right, the simple sign above affirmed what I my bones already knew, that I could trust in seeing beauty when it needed to be seen. That my feet would take me where I didn’t yet know I needed to go. And, perhaps most importantly, that there were others out there feeling the same.
While I am unsure how many of you might be reading this post today, please know that the thought that you might be has been integral for the maturation of my appreciation of this town. It has humbled me to the role that photography can play in affirming a life, transplanted, from one continent to the next. If you happen to have camera-in-hand, I hope you feel the same.
[Photo taken with my Sigma DP3 Merrill with its fixed 50mm full-frame lens, equivalent to 75mm on this particular camera.]
(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)