|▲ Hong Jong-hyun is currently working with Graygraphy, a team of photographers who aim to create composed images.|
Creating an image that catches our attention always sounds awesome. Not only when you are standing in front of the camera directly in the spotlight, but also when you work behind the scenes. A former Dankook University (DKU) student stepped into the amazing field of photography and movie making. Hong Jong-hyun, a graduate of the School of Performance Film, joined the production crew of two movies, The Merciless, and Queen of Walking. The Dankook Herald interviewed him to capture a glimpse of his first steps as a professional photographer and videographer.
Q. Which areas have you worked in?
A. I usually work for corporations. In my main field, I shoot photos for fashion brands, but commercials for diverse brands were my main area of focus too. Recently, I have been working on a private project called Hikari Wave, which is inspired by Japanese artwork and artists from the 1980s such as Yamashita Tatsuro, the musician. I was inspired by the urban vibes that Yamashita Tatsuro delivers through his sophisticated sound and how Japanese videographers of the 1980s described female actresses, and singers of the time
Q. What are the key differences between filming as an undergraduate and joining a commercial movie crew?
A. The basic procedure of commercial movies was similar to filming during my college years, but the crew’s attitude toward me was different. As an undergraduate, friendships were developed while filming and everyone was devoted to making a good film. On the commercial side, the devotion to making a great product is also there, but now I have to be stricter because it’s a big project in the business world. Therefore, the fundamental difference is the degree of fun and the ability to work with very friendly crews.
|▲ Hong Jong-hyun joined two movies, The Merciless and Queen of Walking.|
Q. What was your motivation to be a photographer?
A. Since my father is a big fan of Hollywood movies, I watched a lot of classic Hollywood films as compared to other kids my age. When I was a teenage middle school student, my parents and I realized that sitting down at a desk and studying was not an effective way to prepare me for my future because I was really into movies. I applied to the filmmaking department in an art school and was fortunately accepted. That’s where I learnt the basics of photography; which is one of the biggest reasons why I decided to be a photographer.
Q. As a young photographer, what kind of style are you trying to build?
A. Even though photographers build up their own style throughout their lives, if an artist’s style is fixed, it would be fatal to their career. In my opinion, a photographer’s style must be flexible and evolving as it is largely affected by what the photographer is into at the instinctive moment. Inspiration doesn’t come like a bolt of lightning. It comes from what the artist sees, hears, and thinks about in everyday life. I am trying to give slight twists to mine now, too. Although others sometimes tell me my artwork can be categorized under one genre.
Q. Could you pick one project that is most meaningful to you?
A. It is very hard to choose one, but the Hikari Wave series, the project that I am working on now, means so much to me because it is my first individual project where I am taking pictures of people. This project helped me appreciate the importance of lighting. Before the project, I would usually take pictures of objects and I soon came to realize that having a human being as a subject requires extra effort when it comes to lighting, especially when depicting someone in a 1980s Japanese way. I guess this will be a great fertilizer for my future projects because I have had to study a lot about lighting and colors.
Q. What plans do you have as a photographer?
A. First, my personal goal is to have a private exhibition, but I will have to accumulate more pieces through individual photography projects for that. Second, as a member of Graygraphy, I want to promote our motto of taking un-provocative pictures. We believe that contemporary image media is too sensational when describing people. Graygraphy is a team of photographers who want to create images that have staying power on the walls, like furniture in a room. We are working on expanding the ways for more of our subjects to also enjoy their pictures.
Q. Could you give advice to Dankookians (students of DKU) who want to be videographers or photographers?
A. Look around yourselves. If you want to make a good movie, you better listen to good music, go to museums, or dance performances. Keeping a wide pool of interest is likely to give you more inspiration. In my experience, watching only movies is not the best idea for a young filmmaker. But you will also have to dig deep into what you like. When I fell for the Japanese music from their bubble economy, the time when Japanese economy was in a great inflation, for the first time, I flew all the way to Japan to buy albums that I wanted to listen to. Follow your heart so long as it does not stand against common ethics. Furthermore, you should not judge your taste too harshly because studying what you love will only positively affect your artwork.
The entire interview with Mr. Hong can be summed up by one short message: Do what you love. The engine that drove him to this point is his deep well of affection for photography and filmmaking that he dug for years. He was talking about his passions, but this line can be extended to anything that Dankookians want do. It might seem quite obvious, but having your own well is a strong foundation for your own future.