This photo was taken several weeks ago outside the ACC in downtown Gwangju. In it, a tea festival was rapidly coming to a close. Taking their cue from an unseen stage to the left of the frame, dozens of hambok-clad participants quickly began to pack up their belongings. Within minutes, they would be gathered in orderly rows for an obligatory group photo. While that photo likely showed the placid faces of tired participants, the one above gains its strength from what is left unseen.
The woman in the lightly-toned hambok seems mysterious but also familiar. We would likely gain little from seeing her face, or even the soft pink tones from her garment. Instead, while centered in the square frame, her outline allows us to examine the area which surrounds her. In it, we can locate over a dozen figures in various states of post-festival packing. The late afternoon light was hard, casting long shadows on whatever broke its path. In this case, the elongated shadows of the central trio reveal what we cannot readily see. Containing more questions than answers, this image nevertheless oozes contentment within an otherwise busy moment. Such moments are fleeting these days as the weather turns, and we shudder to adjust to this newly chilled environment. Regardless, when such pristine moments occur on the surrounding streets, we may be all the more ready to welcome them.
[This image was taken using a Rolleiflex 2.8D shooting Kodak Tri-X 400. Already a contrasty film, I was worried how the strong shadows would render in this hard afternoon light. I was glad to find that both they and the highlights maintained their detail for the most part. The antique Schneider lens on the Rolleiflex did its part as well, rendering a certain pop in the scene above.]
(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)