Seoul, South Korea. iPhone 6S.

일상 literally means daily. It is one of the most popular tags on Instagram here in Korea. I always thought it was a funny one. I didn’t really get it.

The “daily” photo. 

Seoul, South Korea. iPhone 6S

Then one day my phone ran out of memory. I was shocked. I checked the settings only to figure out photos were a big problem. I looked through my camera roll only to see I took quite a few more photos on my phone than I thought.

Seoul, South Korea. iPhone 6S

Then it sort of clicked. The daily photo. For me, I actually don’t carry my camera around all the time. I took a lot of photos when I didn’t have a camera or when I only had a film camera. Took a lot of photos of things I thought were interesting but not necessarily “worth” using a frame that cost almost a dollar.

Suwon, South Korea. iPhone 6.

I thought it might be a good idea to go through them. Whilst doing so I realized there was something interesting about them. Being in colour, for one. I set all my cameras to black and white and very rarely shoot colour film anymore.

Suwon, South Korea. iPhone 6.

I honestly couldn’t even remember taking most of the photos. I couldn’t even remember where a lot of them were taken. So take the descriptions with a grain of salt.

Suwon, South Korea. iPhone 6.

Another interesting thing for me was that almost all of the photos I found were upright. I rarely shoot portrait orientation with a “real” camera. A different perspective.

Suwon, South Korea. iPhone 6.

I shot them all on the same app with the same filter, ha. I didn’t bother to change it or was too lazy to do so.

Perhaps the strangest thing is that a lot of the photos didn’t feel like mine.

Suwon, South Korea. iPhone 6.

I don’t know how to explain this. When I looked through them I almost felt like I was looking at someone else’s work. Maybe it was because I didn’t remember taking a lot of them.

Seoul, South Korea. iPhone 6S.

It was a really weird feeling. Almost reminded me of the feeling I get when hearing a story about something funny I’ve done while drunk.

Suwon, South Korea. iPhone 6.

Some of them I remember of course. I used this (above) in a post about iPhoneography a while back. I wouldn’t necessarily call the ones I used in that post daily “일상” photos. I think I was too conscious while taking them.

Suwon, South Korea. iPhone 6S.

Whether these are better or worse than my other photos, I’m not sure. I feel like they are purer. Purer for the simple fact that I didn’t think at all while taking them. I don’t even remember why I took them. They aren’t necessarily photos of people I know or of things I was doing.

Suwon, South Korea. iPhone 6.

Whatever they are, I think the one thing I’ve learned from finding them is that I am really a photographer in my soul.

Seoul, South Korea. iPhone 6.

There is no other explanation for why I took so many of these photos. I guess I was more surprised than anything else.

Seoul, South Korea. iPhone 6.

I’m not complaining. It is one of the cooler moments I’ve had in photography. The realization of how important it is to me.

Seoul, South Korea. iPhone 6.
Seoul, South Korea. iPhone 6.

I mean, I always knew I loved it. However, for any of you that have followed me for a long time might have noticed I far too often explain my feelings about photography in a way that would downplay that importance.

Seoul, South Korea. iPhone 6.

I too often say things like “I only take photos because I’m bored.” While I believe this to be somewhat true, I think boredom is a conscious thing. I know I’m bored and so, I take photos to fill time.

Seoul, South Korea. iPhone 6.

But these photos I took without that cause and effect. The simple fact of the matter is I took them because my routine revolves around taking photos. It is what I do.

Seoul, South Korea. iPhone 6.

It is my routine. My routine is to take photos. I always say I don’t go on photowalks. I don’t go out with the thought of taking photos.

While this may very well be true I think this experience has taught me that I think this way because I probably spend most of my time thinking about taking photos. Without actually thinking about taking photos, ha.

I guess that is the definition of 일상 for me. I take daily photos even when I don’t know I’m doing it. Funny thing, that. I suppose the sad thing is now that I’ve realized I’m doing it it probably won’t be the same.

Was a good run at least.

February 2016.

Seoul, South Korea. iPhone 6.

21 thoughts on “일상

  1. This is a great set of photos Josh – I really like them. They have a continuity, although different from your VSCO b/w images. For me, they feel more engaged or immersed. I know you don’t care for these questions, but what app & filter did you use? Thanks man.


    1. No problem of course! I used VSCO still. I think the filter is one of the normal ones that comes with the app. You could probably find it if you skim through. Can’t remember off the top of my head. I think it may be G3?

      Thanks for the compliment as well 😉

  2. Oh man, i’m so tired, while at the bus stop i took a photo of a lady with my phone and this other lady was freaked out “does she know you are taking the photo” so she tells the other lady in a way that makes me look scary. I say, “yes, i took a photo of you, the street, the bus etc” and she walks off … i don’t bother trying to explain that the light hitting my eyes, the light in the lens in this public space – does it belong to someone – if i don’t misuse it harmfully do you care? Still, bummer. Reminds me of being a musician – there is always something shitty do deal with. Take bad with the good.

    1. Hm, I have never had much of a problem. I’m pretty open about what I’m doing. In Korea you can’t silence your shutter so people always know I’m taking a photo. I usually just explain they looked interesting and show them the photo. Compliments go a long way. I’ll usually start with something like “I like that shirt!” They then usually think I took the photo to remember that or whatever. They will usually say something like, “Oh, really?? Thanks!” People usually get nervous when they are “caught” and that makes them look more guilty of wrongdoing. I am caught literally every time, haha. People sometimes don’t like it but usually they think I didn’t do a good job of making them look good. And this isn’t my way of doing things only here where I’m a foreigner.. I do the same thing wherever I shoot. Toronto, Montreal, New York, Tokyo, Europe. Anyway, don’t worry too much about it!

      1. Normally i’m either very open or very stealthy, invisible. Just the way the angle was … the situation caught me off guard and i was already in a bummer of a day. Anyway, your shots done while travelling resonate – i often do similar thing – just turns out that way.

  3. Great insights here Josh. I don’t use my phone for taking photos much these days. Just had a quick flick through my gallery and found one decent photo so you’ve done well to find all of these nice shots you took without really thinking about it. I have to be much more concious when I shoot, otherwise I’ll just end up deleting 95% of what I shoot.

  4. Hi Josh , ive been reading your blog for about six months now after a link on Eric Kims blog … Boy have you guys inspired me !!! No longer weighed down with thoughts of what gear and lenses to carry its now either my phone or my trusty X100t … Dont feel guilty about using my ipad and vsco to edit anymore either ! It was my dirty secret that i didnt use ‘proper’ editing software 🙂 now i feel free !!!! Thank you !!! :))

    1. haha Neil, good to hear. Editing on my phone has been something I’ve done for a while. Basically since Snapseed originally came out for the iPhone. Anyway, keep on shooting and I’ll check your blog.

  5. “Photographer in my soul” (in Seoul, heh) – there are some great pictures here, the slightly muted colours really work well for the urban environment.

  6. Its always refreshing to find old photographs, even from other people. When I visit home I usually dig through old prints and it helps me re-evaluate what/how I shoot, nice to see another perspective on it and learn some korean haha, thanks.

  7. This is great – truly. Love the raw images and truth behind them. When we’re not thinking so much, our true nature explodes, and it can be beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I really like this colour palette! My eyes get numbed-out by the bazillion typical, saturated, colour-corrected shots on the web. This is refreshing.
    I also like that you’re close to people, so that subjects are a large enough part of the compositions.

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