Junghyun Choi runs a small cafe in Jeonju, South Korea. She loves taking pictures with her old film cameras. Her photography is very refreshing, soothing, and brings happiness to the viewer. Looking at her table arrangements, you wish to be there to have your own Zen moment with tea brewing beside the loveliest of flowers while the Sun gently wishes you good morning. Film photography itself makes the subject look more appealing and elegant. It also adds to it a vintage quality which is difficult to get in digital. She’s sharing facts about her life and her art in this detailed interview:
Hello Junghyun, please introduce yourself to our readers:
Hello. I’m Junghyun Choi. I was born in Yangpyeong which is a small countryside of South Korea near Seoul, in 1981 and I grew up and lived there until when I was in Secondary school.
My main subject was Chinese but after I graduated I worked as a web designer for four years in Seoul and then I resigned the company in 2009. After that I started working at a Barista in Seoul, Jeju island, Yangpyeong for a few years, then I moved to Jeonju which is the South part of Korea in 2011 by myself for my own business and now I have run a small tea shop since 2012.
Actually, photography is my only one hobby and interest, I absolutely love it. Except that I love flowers as you can see. I have to stay almost everyday in my tea shop all day long so I started planting lots of lovely flowers in my little garden in front of my cafe, looking at their growing and blooming is kind of a treatment for me and I also buy a bouquet of flowers once a week and that makes me so happy.
When did you start taking photos?
In early 2000s, I bought a digital camera Nikon coolpix 5000 and loved to play with it. In 2005, I bought a my first film camera Lomo Lc-A and since that photography has dominated my life. At the same year, I bought an old Rolleiflex and a Nikon Fm2 and after that I’ve just fell in love with photography.
I sell some of my pictures on Getty images but I am an amateur photographer. I try to take more pictures but that is not easy because of my job and that’s why I started taking pictures of the flowers in my cafe. Anyway when the sunlight is shining through the windows everything in my cafe is looking so beautiful and emotional even dust and then I always lift the cameras.
What do you think about photography? What does it mean to you?
Photography is my destiny. I have never loved anything as much as photography. Some time ago someone asked my that what I did when I had a spare time, and that question made me just realized that I was looking at other people’s pictures and thinking about photography and taking pictures every time and every day.
When I first time started photography I just loved taking pictures so much but now it always comforts me when I am lonely and got depressed and gives me little happiness and presents too. For me, this interview is also kind of a present from photography.
What do you like shooting most… i.e. what is your key area? Also tell us about your cameras and workflow:
I don’t know what is my key area of photography yet. I only take pictures in given situations. When I am traveling I take travel photographs, and I am with my friends or family I take pictures of people. Now I have to stay in my cafe all day long so I take pictures of all the little things here in my cafe including the flowers. I try to take pictures of every single beautiful and memorable moments, just don’t want to miss it!
I have eight cameras Which are Hasselblad 503cx, Rolleiflex Automat X, Lomo LC-A, Nikon FM2, Yashca FX-2, Pentacon Six TL, Polaroid SX-70, and I use standard lenses, I’m not really interested in collecting lenses. I also have a digital camera(Leica D-lux 3) but I rarely use it. I don’t even remember when was the last time I used it.
I really love nostalgic and serene feelings that only the film has so maybe all my photographs are quiet and lyrical. Last year I read that some people were talking about my photography and they said my photography was the limits of the film photography. Of course, I was not really happy with their opinions, on the other hand, there are some points that I have to agree with them because I just prefer taking pictures of my ordinary life and lovely moments than dynamic and experimental photos.
My workflow is simple. I take pictures with film and use a service for processing, scanning because I don’t want to give up the quality. I sometimes do self scanning for B/W and slide films with my Epson V600. I don’t edit too much because it could make film photos own feelings disaster so I use Photoshop to only adjust the tones and the brightness.
Tell us about your achievements, etc:
I don’t think I have had any major achievements in my photography yet. Just… I’ve got several pictures that I really like and am satisfied with them for ten years time and there are a lot of followers and friends (I never expected before:)) who always cheer for my work on my Flickr, and my work has been featured on several web sites like this, and someone buys my photos… that’s all, nothing special :) I should work harder until I publish my own photography books and exhibit somewhere in the world and I also dream of working with my favourite magazine Kinfolk :)
Your flower photography is amazing and brings deep satisfaction to the viewer. How do you manage to shoot such images?
Thanks for your compliment. I just like taking pictures under the beautiful light and I try to express my emotions in my photos well and love to emphasize the light. Except that I don’t prepare for really special things for my photos, just like catching the natural light.
Don’t you do any outdoor photography? Which places do you like most?
Even though I like traveling a lot I haven’t been to many countries. Just China, Japan, Taiwan, Hongkong, Macau, UK, France, Italy, and a little island of Indonesia. My favourite place is England. I stayed in Bath in England to learn English for six months in 2008. While staying there I spread a map of the UK and chose a place to go and went on a trip to take pictures by train on my own almost every week. I remember that I especially liked walking around small old villages near Bath, like Bradford on Avon, Lacock, Cotswold with my Rolleiflex.
The most memorable moment was my journey for Torquey. At that time I liked someone but it was unrequited, and I suddenly wanted to see the ocean so I went to railway station and when the train into Devon it was across by the blue sea for a long time, and it was absolutely fantastic and beautiful as much as my heart ache so I was wondering if the train was going to the heaven :)
Has photography brought any significant changes in your life and personality?
Since I started photography my life has changed a lot. At first, I really love photography so I resigned the company and went to the UK and while staying there I liked going to tea shops and eating cream tea a lot, loved that culture so much and that is the reason why I started my own tea shop in Korea now.
Secondly, I am not afraid of going to strange places alone any more. Photography made me enjoy and love to experience new world and like to find joy of every little thing. I am sure that I will take pictures until I die :)
So it be… Now, say something to our readers:
Thanks for finding my photos and reading my stories :) I have learned a lot of things since I started doing Flickr. Looking at other people’s work around the world, I realized that how much my perspective was narrow first time I started it, so I was really surprised and shocked. I believed that if you take more pictures and watch more pictures you can find your own style of photography!