When I first scanned this photo, I was a bit disappointed. I was upset that there is a hand holding a cell phone in the foreground. This hand is distracting from the subject, our portly ajumma ( 아줌마, Korean for ‘Auntie’ – a term largely used to describe an older woman ). She was such a character! Her clothes, perm hair style, and general demeanor quite accurately portray Korean ajummas at large. And despite how interesting she was to briefly chat with on the street, my friend couldn’t stop piddling around with her phone, texting or whatever else. She didn’t say a word to this ajumma or give her the slightest bit of attention while I chatted away and discretely took this photo.
I feel that these phones, never seeming to be further than five feet away from our faces, are truly distracting us from the world around us. How often do we go more than an hour without our phones being in our pockets or hands? How often are we missing the reality right beside us because our eyes are plastered to a tiny screen? We have become the walking, texting zombie. So at first I was disappointed with this image, but then it sort of spoke to me. It shows the large generational gap between the young and old. The photo also reminds me that the world and her people are a lot more fascinating than whatever distraction our phones are bringing. I’d like to encourage everyone, myself included, to turn off our phones and become immersed in our immediate, analog surroundings. This ajumma was captured with a Rolleiflex Automat A on Fuji Reala 100 medium format film. © Patrick Bresnahan