Downtown Snapshots

I needed to go downtown to buy some camera batteries at my favourite electronics shop and I thought I may as well practise some documentary photography in the downtown area. I haven’t done much documentary photography and I’m not very good at it yet. I’m naturally shy about taking people’s pictures and my photos are often rushed because I am worried about someone coming out and telling me off. Still, even if the photos I made today aren’t very good, at least you will be able to see something about life in Korea.


This house is unusually by itself on a side road. The wall that surrounds this ‘compound’ is about my height, maybe a little taller. It’s an ugly building but interesting in its own way.


A little farther down the road was this little patch of green onion in a field behind a tour bus operator. This would be nicer without the shadow of the light pole.


A clothes collection box. When the box is full or items are large, people just pile the clothes and blankets on top. The stencilled words say you can put in curtains, old clothes, blankets, shoes, carpets, and bags. As you can see from the houses in the background, it’s one of Gangneung’s poorer neighbourhoods.


This is still on the same road. This truck belongs to a courier company.


A winter treat in Korea is sweet potatoes or chestnuts roasted in wood-burning barrels like this one. Sometimes people buy roasted chestnuts and carry them around in their coat pockets to keep their hands warm.


This is an example of a photo that didn’t come out well because I was rushing due to shyness. I made a photo of this woman and took the camera down too quickly when she looked up, causing blur. It’s hard to see the blur at the size I’ve posted here but it’s embarassingly obvious on the original photograph. When she looked at me I smiled, waved, and hurried on. I look like a tourist because I’m not Korean so she just laughed.


You can find fish hung up to dry just about anywhere in the market area. This aluminium wall separates some shops from a construction area.


Many of the little food shops in this alley look like they should be shut down by a health inspector but the food cooked in them is very delicious. In a few years they will probably be torn down and replaced by yet another coffee shop or ten.


I wanted a photo of the mung bean pancakes and this guy’s hands but he saw me standing in front of his shop and bent down to see who I was.


This is what I wanted but it’s poorly composed because I was shooting and running.


A man and his wife pushing a cart on which they’ve piled cardboard to sell to recyclers. This sort of photo should be made from the side or the front but, again, I don’t have the nerve yet. And I don’t really like taking photos of poor people.


A lost couple visiting Gangneung. Out of focus and you can’t see the map they are looking at, but I like the composition. As you can see from the reflection, I was in a convenience store, which is why the photo is out of focus. Reflections can fool a camera’s autofocus system. I should have switched to manual focus but I was worried they would notice me taking their photo so I just quickly went back to my tin of milky coffee.


A view of my apartment complex. I don’t live in building 104.


I bought this mugwort rice cake in the market. It’s covered in bean powder. I don’t like this kind of rice cake but my wife enjoys it very much.


This is the rice cake I bought for myself. This is a more modern style of rice cake with bright colours and fruit flavours. I wanted to make a photo of the shop where I bought the rice cake but it’s the new year holiday and I was being knocked about by children and old ladies in the very narrow market alleys. I paid for the food and got out as quickly as I could.

These photos won’t win any prizes but I hope they are interesting as a glimpse into what a South Korean city looks like. I enjoyed walking about and making the photos and perhaps next time I won’t be so nervous and I can get some better compositions.


4 thoughts on “Downtown Snapshots”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s