In the past 3 months, I’ve had quite a few changes happen in my life. Perhaps the biggest would be that I no long reside in America. I left Florida in mid-August to move to Seoul, South Korea, where I started work for the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education as an English teacher. For the past few months I’ve been working along side a native Korean English teacher to teach almost one thousand students at a high school in Seoul. Having a regular 9-5 now has eaten up the free time that I used to have to just go out and shoot and not knowing the area or the language has proven to be quite an obstacle in getting back to shooting regularly. None the less, here’s a few of the images that I’ve taken in my time here. I’m hoping to start on two long term documentary ideas once I get more settled in and have a better grasp of everything going on around me.
Click on an image to activate the viewer software, navigate through each photo via your arrow keys on your keyboard or the arrows built into the gallery.
I decided to come up with a little travel reel to showcase where I’ve been over the past summer. Locations include Tokyo, Japan, Hong Kong, and various spots from Taiwan. All of the footage was shot on my Canon 5D Mark II camera with an assortment of lenses and then edited in FCP and Color.
I’ve had the fortune to live in the largest mega city in the world, Tokyo, Japan. It’s population bursting at the seams with a total population of over 35 million people in it’s metropolitan area and the greatest spending power for any metropolitan area in the world. Tokyo I thought was the be all end all of cites, everything one could ever hope for right there. That is until I finally went to New York. New York, specifically Manhattan may be less populated, but it’s skyscrapers and people are clustered even tighter than in Tokyo. Along the streets of Manhattan, visitors strain their necks to peer at all the towering skyscrapers. It’s inhabitants featuring every color of the rainbow. I was utterly amazed at how diverse the city was, where as in Tokyo or any other major city visitors will usually only hear one primary language spoken, in Manhattan, I could here anything and everything spoken through out the world. One minute I would pass by a group of people speaking Japanese, the next Spanish, and then the next English. The stores, restaurants, and various street food vendors also show this diversity. On any given block you can find multiple eateries catering to what ever end of the Earth you’re craving. While I may have only had 36 hours in this amazing city, I loved every moment of it and cannon wait to visit the city that never sleeps again.
Perhaps my favorite shrine in Japan. It has played host to the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, and snakes up through a mountain just outside of Kyoto. It’s home to thousands of Torii or gates. Each one of these has been donated by businesses in hopes of please Inari or the god of business. These torii are placed extremely close to each other and form a tunnel of pure orange and red. As i entered this tunnel of torii, I was left speechless by its beauty and the share amount of gates. It’s a remarkable place to visit and see first hand.
I spent about two weeks in Osaka, Japan. Osaka is the third largest city in Japan and the second most important. I personally liked Tokyo better, simply because Tokyo was more vibrant, clean, and had more energy to it. I however loved the people I met in Osaka, from the people i stayed with to those I encountered on the street, I’d say Osaka is the more friendlier city. It’s residence are more laid back and willing to talk to the lone gaijins or foreigners. People don’t mind having conversations on the train no matter the time of day. Also I believe there isn’t as much pressure to dress as best as possible as in Tokyo. While I was in Osaka, people just dressed however they felt and wore what ever they felt comfortable in, where as in Tokyo for the most part, people dress as trendy as possible. While in Osaka, I explored Den-Den Town, Umeda, Namba, and Shinsekai.
One of my friends that I stayed with lived in Shinsekai and one memorable thing I remembered doing while staying at his place was getting lost. It was my first time venturing out on my own and I still wasn’t sure of exactly how to get back to his place from the metro, so I started wondering around the neighborhood that he lived in. As it’s Japan and violent crimes especially those against foreigners are nonexistent,i had no problems going through alley ways and after wondering through a myriad amount of alleyways and backstreets, I was getting no where but soon I wondered into somewhere oddly different from all of the alleyways I had been wondering in. Everything became clean, there were no ads, or posters anywhere on the wall, and pink lights replaced the regular street lamps. Soon enough I passed by small storefronts, with older women in their 50’s and 60’s standing next to pretty and young Japanese women, As soon as I saw this, I knew where I was. My friend told me he lived near the red-light district in Osaka, and seeing this, I knew I had wondered into it. The red light districts in Japan are all controlled by the Yakuza or Japanese Mafia, and as I had my camera on my shoulder, I posed a threat. So i decided to hasten my steps to make my way out. Soon though, some of the older Japanese women, who were in charge of the younger women, say my camera on my shoulder and started yelling at me STOP NO PHOTO, in Japanese. I eventually made my way out of the red light district and to my friends place, but one thing that shocked me was just how out in the open prostitution is in Japan.
Also during my stay, I went to the Osaka Aquarium which was truly amazing. To see massive whale sharks up close and other exotic sea creatures. I’ve been to the Sea World countless times, but hands down I preferred the aquarium in Osaka. It was a bit pricey to get into at 2000 Yen or 20 Dollars and a bit crowded but none the less I enjoyed my time there.
Food was also another thing that Osaka is known for, especially Okinomiyaki and Takoyaki. Okinomiyaki is sort of like a pancake with whatever you want on top of it, usually consisting of cabbage, batter, octopus tentacles, shrimp, and other bits it’s very tasty and Osaka has it’s own distintive style. Also in Tokyo, you make your okinomiyaki yourself, where as in Osaka, the restaurant prepares it infront of you. Takoyaki, is a flour batter and octopus diced together in the form of a ball and then deep fried and then topped with fish scales and okinomiyaki sauce and it’s absolutely tasty. Osaka is known especially for its takoyaki.
I enjoyed my time in Osaka, while the city it self didn’t offer anything too special, the people I met has made a lasting impression.
With one of the most impressive skylines in the world, Hong Kong is truly a visual play ground for the eyes. Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places on earth and with it’s skyscrapers tower above your head, neon lights, and the sound of managed chaos everywhere, it is a completely disorientation and amazing city. I can see why Christopher Nolan choose Hong Kong and Two IFC for one of the key action scenes in The Dark Knight. Even after having lived in one of the worlds megacities, Tokyo and seen pictures of Dubai, I still firmly believe that Hong Kong possesses one of the most amazing and beautiful, skylines of the world. It may not have any record holders in terms of skyscraper heights but that doesn’t matter in the sheer amount of creatively designed skyscrapers in such a small and dense place.
While I was in Hong Kong, one thing that absolutely amazed me was the land reclamation projects the government had going on. While talking to a native I found out that quite a bit of Hong Kong island used to be completely underwater and that where the native I was talking to had lived, used to be underwater some 20 years ago. The amount of construction work going on is mind blowing and to see the actual effort that man is making to change earth is astounding.