Reflecting on my early DSLR days

I purchased my first DSLR in October 2004. At that time I was living and working in South Korea.

While shooting digital was a lot cheaper than shooting film and slides, I slowly lost interest in photography because the images that came out of my DSLR didn’t hold a candle to the tones, contrast and colours that were rendered by Kodak and Fuji slides.

Now, nearly 20 years later, I finally learned how to use post-processing software and I feel like I can breathe life into these images which, up until now, were missing something. The image structure was there but they just needed a little help.

Below are some images from my time in Korea as well as a few from a trip to Japan between 2004 and 2007.

Monochrome (2004)

These images are all from 2004. I processed them in monochrome which I thought matched the subject of each image nicely. Surprisingly, after looking at them now, I think I would have photographed these images almost the same now as I did then.

Street Photography (2004)

I am not comfortable pointing a camera at people or even doing photography when other people are around. Maybe I just don’t want to have to explain myself. This is why I enjoy landscape photography. Nobody around and I can get lost in the process.

However, I occasionally did venture into the city with my camera. I really like these two images, especially the portrait-oriented with the two women at the back of the alley. I wish I had spent more time in these alleys with my camera. These places had so much character and were often torn down and replaced with boxy, high-rise apartments.

Bicycles (2004)

During some of my street photography I was able to photograph some of the “working” bikes. I used to ride mountain bikes and work at a bike shop so these bikes fascinated me. They had extremely long wheel bases and were built like tanks. They were used to transport various items like stacks of cardboard, trash or supplies for the market.

Because I didn’t feel comfortable photographing these bikes while others were around, I often rushed the shot just to get it and get out. (What was I worried about?)

I would have liked to have had more time with each composition. But this is what we have.

Japan (2005)

I also had to make occasional trips to Japan in order to renew my work visa. These are taken in Fukuoka in the south of Japan.

These are all urban shots. I can see things I would do different now but the overall concepts of each image would remain the same if I were to shoot them today.

River Petals (2007)

These images I could have taken last week. I can feel myself in these images. I am fascinated to see these 16 year old images and think that’s how I would have done it today.

This “consistency” provides me with a sense of relief that there is some cohesion in my images. It can often feel like each image we take has nothing in common with the last image we took or the image before that. But looking at these I can see the commonalities.

I think it’s important to revisit old images from time to time. First, we get to see where we’ve come from and how we’ve grown. We also get to see the similarities in our work and through that process we start to understand what our “style” looks like. Through this distance in time we can look with fresh eyes and truly evaluate our work, how it could be improved upon and find the qualities that make them “ours”.

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