Division of International Studies
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t like the camera. Ever since I was young my dad took pictures of me all the time. Being a silly kid, I would pose for the camera and run around in excitement. I didn’t know what to do when I realized I was being photographed, though. I was just being myself. But as I grew older I started avoiding being taken photos. I became more aware of what so-called ‘popular’ photos of social media stars were like and realized that I didn’t look nor posed like them. My face looked asymmetrical, I had no makeup on, I had no sense in fashion… I didn’t necessarily think those were the ideal conditions to good photography but still I cannot deny that I lost some confidence in front of a camera.
Fortunately this didn’t stop me from disliking photography. Hiding behind the camera, I started taking pictures for my own. Family, friends, scenery… Just about anything I wanted to remember, I took pictures of them. I would take photos, edit them. There was no deep reason to taking those photos though. And I always felt that I wasn’t putting much thought into how I take photos.
A few weeks ago, I visited Russia with a close friend. There I had some interesting photographic experiences, ones that I’ve never had before. The first one is that I stopped avoiding the camera, which was a fairly interesting change of attitude. I’ve never liked the way I looked in photos, so even when I went travelling, there would be no pictures of myself with the beautiful scenery. But my friend continuously encouraged me to smile at the camera, no matter what I thought of that smile myself. I was truly reluctant in doing so because I was afraid of how bad I’d look in the picture. Later it turned out that I actually quite liked the photos. It was not because I was ‘better-looking’ in them, but because I looked ‘happy’. I was truly being myself, in the most natural way possible. Even in pictures of us together, the ‘best shots’ really were well-taken, great photos. But what I liked the ones the most were us laughing silly together, not caring about what would look better for the photo.
The second thing is that I learned the value of ‘capturing the moment’. Right before our trip together, I received a Polaroid camera as a gift from my friend. With Polaroids there is no turning back, but that is where the charm lies. Taking photos with a camera would be somewhat ‘less’ memorable, because there is always a chance to edit it later on. But taking one single shot at a photo with a Polaroid, I could really remember every moment of that time I took the photo. Even the photos that were ‘mis’taken seemed quite attractive in its analog feel.
Writing my personal experience with photography, I don’t intend to draw some meaningful lesson out of it. Yet I do hope that, if you are a person who has moments in your daily life that you want to remember, my experience would evoke some thought to you. Maybe photos don’t need to be Instagram-worthy. Maybe the photos that we see online aren’t the standard of a beautiful photo. Maybe, capturing the moment is what’s important. It’s just something to think about.
Hwang Bo-hyun Division of International Studies