Hanseo Language Center, Seosan Korea: On December 20th I entered Hanseo Language Center this time as a teacher, photographer and friend. I’ve been teaching the kids there once a week for the past two years and have grown close to many of them. The center needed a photographer for the planned Christmas festivities and these days I’m their go to guy. I like to think I showed a little Christmas spirit shooting pro bono on my HOLIDAY but the truth is, I got just as much out of it as the kids, maybe even more. Ever since covering the Dulwich College Christmas Ball and First Tank’s Dining Out Event I’ve been infatuated with the idea of photo-booths and onsite printing. It takes a lot of work to get the booth and workflow just right and this was another opportunity, without any of the pressure of paid gig, to gain more experience.
I stopped by Daiso (Korean Dollar Store) and picked up a few rolls of green wrapping paper and a stocking for the backdrop along with some Santa hats, earmuffs and a scarf to use as props. At the center. my colleagues dug some more Christmas-y goodies out of a box: snowflakes, ribbon and a fake gift. We pinned and taped all of it to the wall creating the festive look I was after. The lighting consisted of two large diffused umbrellas on either side and an Orbis ring-light on camera to get those awesome catch lights in the eyes. I went for as much separation between the backdrop and subject as possible which was key for getting background out of focus. In post production I brightened everything up a notch and added some cheesy white vignetting which seemed rather fitting for these Christmas portraits.
I feel I captured some really natural smiles this time and I attribute that to three main things:
1. Shooting from my tripod – not having to look through the viewfinder allowed me to interact on a much more personal level with the kids
2. Knowing the kids – although I didn’t teach these particular kids most of them were familiar with me
3. My insanely funny jokes – “Say Kimchee… Say Kimchee-chige… Say Kimchee-bokumbap…” it never got old 😉