I often go for walks or bike rides around town. Sometimes I have a destination in mind – a place, person or concept I wish to photograph. And other times I wander just to chase the sunlight and see what I can find. The four photographs shown here were of one such time, about a week ago. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I wanted to ride my bike down a road I’d never taken a few miles from my house. I wasn’t sure what I’d find, but I brought along the recently borrowed Mamiya RZ 67, its Polaroid back, some instant film, and a roll of Kodak Tmax 400 just incase I came across something to shoot. Even after living in Korea for roughly five years, I’m still stumbling upon interesting ( to me, at least ) subjects to capture.
The first thing that caught my eye was the umbrella sticking straight out of the ground. It looked almost as if it were hurled from the sky like a bolt of lightning. I hopped off my bike, sauntered across the field, and snapped a photo with the Mamiya. As I started heading back, I saw an old bike in the next field over. I left my bicycle where it lay and went to take another photo. I admit, I love the old bicycles that the farmers cruise on out here in the Korean countryside. These farmers tend to peddle extremely slowly, just inching along, almost as if they’re riding underwater. These old bikes and the farmers that ride them have such character.
This brings me to the next photo, of the farmer. As I took two pictures of his bike ( one shown here, and the other taken with the Polaroid back – I’ll scan and upload that in due time ), the farmer came from out of the fields. I saw him approach and instantly wanted to capture him. I try to be very open when I take people’s photos on the street or otherwise. There’s some controversy here, and I’m not sure how you all feel…but I do not ask permission before taking a photograph on the streets anymore. I haven’t for quite some time. From my experience, asking permission usually brings one of two outcomes – either they say no and get vexed for no apparent reason, or they agree, give you a rigid ‘I’m being photographed’ pose, and you end up with a somewhat flat, emotionless portrait. These are not the types of pictures I want to be taking. Rather, I would like to capture moments where people reveal themselves, where you catch a glimpse of who they are and the lives they lead.
Well, there’s nothing discrete about the Mamiya RZ67. Trust me, this is not the camera most people would consider using for street photography. It’s big, bulky, burly. Yet, the time arose for me to capture the farmer and this was the camera I just happened to have in my hands. And, as they say, the best camera is the one that’s with you. So I waited for him to draw near, pitchfork draped over his shoulder after, presumably, a long day of working in the fields with Spring on her way. I took his picture and went over to chat with him – I mentioned before that I like being transparent as a photographer. As it turns out, it was his bike that I’d just photographed moments before. As he tied the pitchfork and shovel to his bike frame, I showed him the instant photo I’d taken with the Mamiya’s Polaroid back. He seemed impressed as we chatted in Korean about why I’m living here, if I like it, and so forth. I decided to give him the photo as a gift. After all, it was his bike. As he smiled and gazed at the picture of his bike, I shot another Polaroid photo of him, this one closer than the Tmax 400 photo above. I think I captured a bit of his true character in that instant print, and I’ll try my best to scan and upload those photos sooner than later.
Lastly, there’s the bunker. At least, that’s what it looks like. I’m not entirely sure, but I believe its used out in the fields as a shed to store supplies. I’m not sure why I was drawn to this bunker, but seeing it conjures up within me a sentiment of the Korean countryside. Anyhow, please enjoy these four images for now. They were captured with a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II on Kodak Tmax 400 film, personally souped up in the darkroom with D76. Stay tuned for some instant photos that will accompany these shots. Take care! © Patrick Bresnahan