A few years ago (maybe around 3 or 4) after one of the worldwide photo walks by Scott Kelby, I saw the birth of many different photography groups on Facebook and Google plus. I was impressed to see so much talent around, especially coming from the expat community in Korea. Until then I was only familiar with a few photographers through Flickr and 500px. However, by creating so many groups at the same time, I kind of felt rather than building one strong unit, things were drifting in the opposite way. All the photography work was so scattered and somehow overlapping in other groups, that I thought it would be good to create a stronger group to showcase the best. I originally thought about working towards a printed magazine, and so we started with an online project at first, through ISSUU and we worked hard at building a strong social media presence. The project then evolved into a blog, because we felt it was easier to update more regularly and collaborate with other photographers.
What makes a good photograph for PIK?
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the culture and scenery in Korea, and snap at just about anything Korean. We all went through the same stage at some point when we first arrived: the old folks, the traditional markets, the hanbok, the sleeping people in the subways and teenage girls’ selfies. Most groups are overloaded with the same sort of photos, which are still good, but my original purpose with PIK was to showcase the best, and too much of the same (to me) is not showcasing the best. We love to see pictures that will represent Korea, in a very unique and different way. Composition plays an important role. We are not concerned about equipment or technical processing skills as we have also posted amazing phone photos in the past.
What evolution would you like to see for PIK in the future?
For now, it’s very important just to keep going, consistency is a very important key to success. Up and downs have come but as long as we keep going, things will have a better chance to succeed. This is one of the reasons why I handed my chief editor role to Lorryn Smit, since she is much better at being consistent than I am. She has done an amazing job with the network, content and contributors. I still play a role mostly as a consultant, editor and “think tank” coordinator. My dream is to have sponsorship so that we can do better things for everyone. A photo book, a printed monthly magazine, or even an online shop where every photographer can benefit from. We have never done anything for this project with personal benefit in mind, but rather for everyone. My philosophy is that we can get more out of life when we help others achieve their own dreams and goals.
As for your personal photography work, how do you get inspired?
Ideas and inspiration do not happen just suddenly, like most people think they do, in a “eureka” moment. They are the result of a more complex network of experiences, feelings, thoughts and other ideas. My inspiration comes mostly from my personal and close relationships with people and life. In most of my work I like to include the human touch. Music, movies, art and my background as a graphic designer have also shaped my photography personality. As I become older and learn more about myself, I think my photography instincts get sharper. My dad thought me a phrase in Spanish: “ Mas sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo” – “More knows the devil for being old than for being the devil”.
What advice would you give to people starting into photography?
Susan Sontag who was a famous American writer, teacher and filmmaker said long ago “Today everything exists to end in a photograph” – Even though this was quoted long before the “photography revolution”, it could have never been more accurate than in the times we live now. Having said this, the amount of photographs and photographers are astronomical, and the way I see it, this leaves us with two choices: either be one of the million or be one in a million. Question your work everyday, and worry less about your gear and more about your instincts. A photograph is a moment we first saw inside with the heart, and a good photographer should be able to transfer that from the inside out. The camera is just an instrument that help us get the image inside, when a photograph represents exactly what you felt, I believe that is a good photograph. And I know it’s not always that we have good photography moments but everyday is a chance to get better. Behind every successful photo, there a lot of unsuccessful ones.