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HOW I GOT INTO TAKING PHOTOS, SUBJECTS THAT I LOOK AT WHEN TRAVELLING, AND A GIFT FOR YOU

Seoul, South Korea
Once in a while, I would get humbling comments from lovely souls about the photos that I take. I do not really feel comfortable about labeling myself as a Photographer as I believe that the title is duly earned with proper education, experience, years of acquired skills and techniques, and a wide range of portfolios. However, I would like to believe that I am able to tell stories and personal experiences through the photos I take. I love taking photos - of people, places, and random things. I believe that in the absence of words, these stills convey a certain message that is waiting to communicate to its rightful viewer at the rightfully given time. Regardless of the context of the photographer, the beautiful thing about the human eye and a photograph is the existence of a certain kind of connection that would help one look back, remember, reminisce, or simply get inspiration from.

My interest in photography started in sixth grade when my parents entrusted me with a proper point and shoot film camera. Film at that time was not cheap and knowing this, the photos that I took had to be carefully considered and composed - at least at that time, I captured things that mattered to me aka my family, friends, special events, and places we visited. I had zero knowledge of the rule of thirds or elements and principles of art, I just took photos when I felt like capturing a moment. I will not forget the mixture of joy and stress whenever I took out the film roll from the camera and placed it in the black plastic cylinder for developing! That moment of finally being able to pick up my prints was indeed one of the most exciting and rewarding feeling ever.

When the era of digital photography started and my classmates were slowly transitioning to digital cameras, I was still using my handy Kodak film camera. I remember feeling a bit insecure at that time- my self-entitlement, teenage hormones, and peer pressure got the best of me. Typing this now is making me laugh and cringe at myself at the same time! The vivid memory of crying to my mom and begging for a digital camera in Junior year is making me want to take back time so I can school my selfish younger self. You see, it's only now when I got to experience things as an adult that I finally realize why I had to wait for a lot of 'wants', a digital camera at that time was not in my parents' list of priorities - there's international school education for two kids, monthly expenses on rent, utility, food and needs, my brother's medication and therapy sessions, a business to maintain, people on the payroll, and so much more. Thinking about all these things now makes me appreciate my parents a whole lot knowing that though things were not easy back then, they were still able to manage to give us what we want and desire for when the time was right and there was more than 'enough'. They were very supportive of our interests and did the very best they could to help us discover our skills and hone it.
Looking back, it wasn't a bad thing to be delayed in the digital photography game. Having a film camera for a long time actually trained me to be more mindful of the things I capture. I think it's also where I was also able to develop my resourcefulness and creativity as I had to make sure that the photos that I took in my film camera will be interesting and clear enough for travel journal projects and reaction papers in school. 

My parents eventually bought me a red Canon Ixus camera when I was approaching my senior year, they wanted me to be able to document prom and the rest of what's left of high school without having to worry about buying films or printing copies. It was with this camera that I was able to document every angle of my last year in high school: my weekends with my family, my movie dates with friends, my daily life in school, mundane things that I found interesting around me. This time I took more time reading books in landscape photography, camera control, elements, and principles of art, and it's also where my interest in design and travel journalism took place. It's where I started taking photos of nature and architecture a bit more seriously. Having a live viewfinder gave me the opportunity to experiment more on angles and methods in shooting different scenes and feeding myself with inspirations did help a whole lot. It's where I discovered that somehow, capturing moments and creating a certain kind of narrative is a visual way of expressing an emotion, a thought, or a desire.
Fast forward to months before graduating from college, I received a job offer from Sheryl, a former schoolmate in Interior Design School who was three years my senior. I really looked up to her as I always saw her works posted on the department bulletin and hear about her achievements from my professors, she was the perfect balance of academic excellence and artistic creativity. And so when she told me that she was an Editor in Chief for a Local Design, Travel, and Lifestyle magazine, I was not really surprised. What I was surprised about was that I was asked by her to be a part of it!

I was and still am not the best writer out there. There were also a lot of things I had to brush up on when it comes to catching up with the job description but photography was something I had the most confidence in and enjoyed being involved in. It was in this job that I got the proper training in all aspects of time management, communication, collaboration, staging scenes, and directing shoots. I was privileged enough to get behind the scenes tips from our talented pool of photographers who later on turned out to be good friends. Sheryl and the rest of the team eventually became my extended family and lifelong friends, and being able to travel to places with them and experiencing a lot of shoots in all forms has eventually given my own eye and style in taking my own photographs.
I really do not have a formula or a long list of things to consider and I'm pretty sure you have read about this a lot of times already, but in taking photographs of any subject, the most important part is to convey a certain story, a certain type of voice, a certain kind of emotion or feeling. These are all in part expressed by considering lighting, color tones, the balance of visual weight, among others. Given that majority of the world has access to a camera phone, it is a delight to be able to see a variety of content in social media platforms, online magazines, and journals. It is however also with the same reason that more and more people feel very pressured about showing their work and that the joy of merely taking photographs has become more of an industry than an endeared experience and hobby. How can we tell stories if we haven't experienced it well? How can we express our style if we continue to compare our work from others? I honestly believe that photographs taken for content are like fleeting thoughts, they fade and eventually become forgotten.

We need to shamelessly enjoy taking photos and sharing them again, not for the likes, not for the follows, not for the comments. I really believe that it is when we enjoy the experience that we get to verbalize our stories, whether it be spoken or written, or simply let the photos speak for us. And honestly speaking from experience, it is when we enjoy taking photographs that we get to communicate with our viewers the most. Going out for a walk and simply capturing things can also be in a way, therapeutic; it takes us away from our stressors and help us see things in a new light, it exercises our imagination and creativity, and it gives us something to draw inspiration from and share with other people.

So what are the things that I usually like taking photos of? I've rounded up a few and thought of sharing it with you with the hope of giving you some tips or inspiration if you are looking at themes or ways to take photographs and tell stories at the same time.

1. UNIQUE OBJECTS OR COMBINATIONS OF THINGS
It could be the designer in me, but I tend to gravitate toward obscure and interesting objects. They could be in the form of pieces of jewelry, home accessories, random art in the street, or simply misplaced items that you normally won't get to see on the regular order of things. I enjoy looking at these and ask myself 'what were they thinking?', I document them because I know that I more or less won't be able to see it again. With this thought in mind, special encounters like these with a scene or an object do not only give you an interesting photo but more importantly an interesting story to take home to your friends or family.

2.) MUNDANE SCENES OR FUNNY ENCOUNTERS
I took this photo in the middle of the busy stretch of Insadong in Seoul. I know, who takes a photo of a truckload of orange? But scenes like these are great reminders of everyday life, they are also at least to me, a good source of inspiration for design. But this particular photo has a funny story behind it, I was randomly going around on my own while my friends were shopping for some souvenirs when I heard an obnoxiously loud voice coming out from a truck. When I approached to see what it was about, I saw this and found it funny and cute at the same time. I figured this may be a new and weird encounter for me being the only person weird enough to approach it and check it out, but to the people who were just passing by me, this was a regular everyday thing, and it was pure magic.
Once in a while, especially when I travel, I come across unique sights and I capture them for the sake of keeping the memory more than anything else. Every time I look at these images, I still get different scenarios in my head, trying to figure out what happened prior to such scene or sight, and the narrative is endless. Or in the case of this photo, it could just be merely a pure memory of vibrant youth and college life? For whatever the reason, looking forward to encounters like these keep me on my toes, my eyes open, and the desire for not missing on looking at the things around me get strengthened.

3.) WALLS WITH WORDS AND DRAWINGS OR CONTRASTING TEXTURES
 It's hard at times because for every shot of graffiti or foreign writings on the wall, I pray and hope that they are not curse or offensive words. This is also why I tend to just keep it to myself and not share it on social media. But I take it mainly because of the interesting hodgepodge of words that may or may not voluntarily appeared there, I like the idea of the presence of uncertainty and randomness within a space and I tent to gravitate toward that type of design style as well.

4.) PEOPLE AND DRAMATIC LIGHTING
Early mornings between 7-8am and afternoons between 3-5pm are my favorite times to capture people and light. I tend to put myself in a certain scenario whenever I take photos like these, I honestly love this subject because of the emotion conveyed between people, place, and lighting. It gives us proof of how these three coexist to tell a story or an experience, and to me, these are the kind of photographs that need no words to accompany it.

5.) NATURE
Nature never fails. Remember when I said photography is therapeutic? Nature is one of the best subjects to distress through photography. The moment of wonder can never be captured by the lens, I would have to say, but the scene can be replicated and represent that moment and hopefully remind you of it in times where you need it. I started getting into photography by taking photographs of trees and flowers, and they will always be one of my favorite things to capture because it's a universal language for all of us, they bring us delight, joy, and comfort all at the same time.

When was the last time you took a photo without having to bother of anyone's opinion or anything in particular? Capturing our days and moments are treasured things that can be passed down from generations, and being able to capture things that have meaning and story is indeed priceless and unforgettable.

It is almost August and as I have announced last month here, I will be sharing with you some of my favorite travel photographs through Heydays Monthly. And for August, you will be getting two versions of the desktop and mobile creative pack, one taken at the Bukchon Hanok Village and another at one of the department buildings of the Hongik University in Seoul.

Here's what's included in the folder:
-A printable monthly calendar (5x7in)
-A desktop wallpaper (dated and without date)
-A mobile wallpaper (dated and without date)

Drop by, say hey, and tag me with your wallpapers through Instagram @heydayswithhanna 🙏🏼❤️

A little back story about these photos, I was able to visit them with dear friends that share the same interest in art and design. We marveled a lot on a lot of structures, talked about our observations, shared hearty meals, and laughs together. I wish to share a part of those memories with you, at least with the textures and colors of the beautiful Autumn in Seoul.
Photographs of my best friend, Nari. We haven't seen each other in a long time as she lives in Seoul now and I'm here in Manila, I even missed her wedding :'( But I'm grateful to look at the memory of things that happened in this trip while we were still both single, young with a lot of questions and desires about life, and a whole bunch of stories to share with each other. I really look forward to the day that we get to be together again.
I fondly remember this sunny Autumn afternoon in Bukchon with my solo travel buddies, Kath and Sab. We sat there and observed the children play around, we observed the architecture of traditional Korean dwellings, most especially, we saw these beautiful sights together and this trip I would say made us get to know each other more. It was my first time to actually spend time with Sab who was Kath's best friend, this trip is memorable for me because it gained me a new artsy and quirky friend!

Photographs tell stories, stories of people, memories, and even unspoken narratives. I hope that in the process of documenting these simple or extraordinary encounters, we do not forget to live in them and experience it.

I wish you all a good week and as always, a Happy Heyday!

FOLLOW THE HEYDAYS

Comments

  1. Yes, you've got an eye for photography. There are so much stories convey in each picture, the light and shade are amazingly captured.

    www.busyandfab.com

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    1. Hi Mercy! Sorry it took so long for me to respond. I've been out of the blog for a few weeks to recharge and just take things in, it's been awesome! Thank you so much for the kind words, they are very uplifting and encouraging. I trust that you and the rest of your family are well and healthy!

      Cheers,
      Hanna

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  2. You've got some gorgeous photos! I really wish I was good at photography but it doesn't matter how much I try, they never out how I want!

    Tash // A Girl with a View

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    Replies
    1. Hi Natasha! Thank you very much, it means a lot! I also feel the same way as you do at times, and there will always be those who are way more skilled than us. But I honestly think that the images we capture no matter how much technique or time we gave, are equally beautiful and representative of our own aesthetic. I really think that it's what makes us somehow knitted together in a way because it's through our photos that we get to show each other how we see things differently, and that's perfect!

      I hope you are doing well!

      Cheers,
      Hanna

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  3. You definitely have the eye! The shots capturing light and people are beautiful and have such a serene feel to them! I'm going to keep in mind your tip about capturing the mundane/funny moments!

    https://sundaydahlias.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you as always, my dear! I enjoy your photos as well, for some reason it always evokes warmth and youthfulness. It's relaxing and inspiring at the same time! I can't wait to see your version of funny encounters ;)

      Cheers,
      Hanna

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  4. I love your photography, Hanna! And I agree, it conveys so much feeling - you've got a great talent! I love reading through your posts and I really enjoyed finding out how your photography journey started. And I couldn't agree more - holding off getting some things is great for the soul.

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    1. Hi Katerina! How have you been? I hope you're doing well! Thank you for taking time to read through my thoughts and for viewing the images with so much thought. I really appreciate it!

      Cheers,
      Hanna

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  5. I love photography too. I took some traditional photography classes in high school for fun to fill art credits. Then yes digital cameras came out I did get in to digital photograph right away but got in to it when I started a blog. I have learned a lot over the years and I keep learning and growing. I like to shoot street style. Love your photos!! And yes we can be a bit self absorbed when we are young. Love this, thanks for posting!

    Allie of
    www.allienyc.com

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    1. Hey Allie! I enjoy your photography! It's one thing to shoot landscape and scenes and another with portraiture and sartorial ones. You are indeed very good with your subjects and it resonates with every frame that you feature. It makes me want to be the one photographed! I hope that you are well and safe back there, stay healthy!

      Cheers,
      Hanna

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  6. I really enjoyed reading the backstory of how you first got into photography as it reminded me of my beginnings, even though I never actually tried my hand at film photography. I first started with a simple point and shoot camera, but I quickly outgrew it and started dreaming of owning a DSLR. They were (and still are) a rather serious investment, so I chose to make a sacrifice. 18th birthday parties are kind of a big deal where I live, but I decided not to throw one and put that money towards a camera instead. Several years down the line, I regret nothing!

    Anyway, enough about me! I wanted to say that you really have a talent for photography and I'm not surprised you were asked to be a part of that magazine. You're a great storyteller and I loved watching the world through your lens!

    Dominika | www.intothebloom.com

    ReplyDelete

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