Discovering a new way to explore the city

I have been lucky enough to study in South Korea for 4 months, last year, from September to December.

At the end of September, I suddenly had the urge to learn about photography. After spending hours on YouTube to discover this new world I knew nothing about, I ran into my local tech store and awkwardly asked a clerk in Korean that I wanted to get a camera.

I did some research online beforehand ended up buying the Nikon D3500, the brand’s cheapest DSLR. After a few weeks, I was frustrated by my kit lens and I bought two new lenses: the 35mm and 50mm f1/8, the cheap plastic ones. I don’t regret buying cheap gear, because even though I was on a tight budget, I was able to get amazing shots out of it.

I started posting pictures on my Instagram, every day, for more than 90 days straight. I had a lot of trouble “finding my own style” as they say, but after about a month I finally grasped what I enjoyed taking pictures of… somewhat.

Street photography, or candid photography, can be awkward and stressful, especially if you’re a bit shy or introverted. You rely on strangers to make a good scene, and everything happens so fast. Not all of my pictures have people in it, I’ll admit, but people really do add life to pictures, in my opinion.

Doing this allowed me to wander around Seoul and discover places I would never have gone to otherwise. It’s an excellent way of discovering a city. In 4 months, I have walked more than 800 000 steps according to Google Fit, which is insane. And now I’m contained at home in France…

It was also a great way to reflect on myself. You don’t have much to do when you’re walking alone in a city with people that don’t speak the same language as you.

Getting into street photography is definitely one of the highlights of my journey in South Korea. I also took some pictures of Tokyo, and now that I’m back in France I try to continue the challenge in Paris, although it does feel very, very different.

I was also lucky enough to meet James Lucianand Tai, two amazing street photographers. I learned a lot from them, and it feels good to connect with people I would probably never have met otherwise.

I wanted to share these pictures somewhere other than Instagram, but I don’t really feel like creating yet another website. Maybe another day. For now, let’s take a break from technical articles on this blog, and enjoy the beauty of the outdoor life.

I made a selection of about 60 pictures, most of them being on my Instagram already. I hope you’ll enjoy them!

Night photography and cyberpunk vibes

I was greatly influenced by Noe Alonzo, a photographer well-known for his cyberpunk/neon-style night pictures. I was really trying hard to do night photography for the first few days/weeks. It turns out it wasn’t what I enjoyed the most, so I kind of stopped trying for the rest of my journey.

Here are some pictures that I took a few days after getting my camera.

A pub in Gangnam

A pub in Gangnam

A long exposure of Dongdaemun

A long exposure of Dongdaemun

Neon couple

Neon couple

The National Assembly of South Korea

The National Assembly of South Korea

My favorite neon picture, in Euljiro

My favorite neon picture, in Euljiro

Cool light installation next to the Sewoon Arcade in Jongno

Cool light installation next to the Sewoon Arcade in Jongno

Some bridge over the Han River

Some bridge over the Han River

Night life

Night life

Street markets

Streets markets are one of the best thing in Korea. The food is amazing. I recommend episode 6 of the Street Food series on Netflix, to learn more about street food in Korea.

Gimbap at Gwangjang Market

Gimbap at Gwangjang Market

Let’s chat after work at Gwangjang Market

Let’s chat after work at Gwangjang Market

Gwangjang Market (this is not tasty though)

Gwangjang Market (this is not tasty though)

A market not far from where I lived

A market not far from where I lived

Gwangjang Market. Be ready for the spicy food!

Gwangjang Market. Be ready for the spicy food!

Keeping things in order

Keeping things in order

Trying to make a living

Trying to make a living

Let’s bargain

Let’s bargain

Street Markets - Elderly - Poverty. These three are tied together and define most of the streets of Seoul

Street Markets - Elderly - Poverty. These three are tied together and define most of the streets of Seoul

Feels like a movie?

Feels like a movie?

On a (very) cold day, some Soju heals your heart

On a (very) cold day, some Soju heals your heart

Gwangjang Market

Gwangjang Market

Encounters

When people walk into my lens.

Wannabe idols doing a performance in Hongdae

Wannabe idols doing a performance in Hongdae

Going home

Going home

The cat of my University

The cat of my University

Koreans are stylish people.

Koreans are stylish people.

What will happen?

What will happen?

When elderly are in financial distress and abandoned by their children, they find revenue by gathering and selling cardboard. This man seemed OK, but I encountered grandmas so old they could barely stand on their feet. It’s a heartbreaking reality.

When elderly are in financial distress and abandoned by their children, they find revenue by gathering and selling cardboard. This man seemed OK, but I encountered grandmas so old they could barely stand on their feet. It’s a heartbreaking reality.

Couple.

Couple.

Two worlds

Two worlds

Let’s make someone happy

Let’s make someone happy

Always with style

Always with style

An amazing view from the National Museum of Korea

An amazing view from the National Museum of Korea

I think they spotted me.

I think they spotted me.

Couple, again.

Couple, again.

Autumn

Autumn was very short. The summer was long and intense, and the winter was extremely cold. I wish Autumn lasted longer.

A bridge over the road near the Seoul Forest

A bridge over the road near the Seoul Forest

Coming from the Seoul Forest to the Han River

Coming from the Seoul Forest to the Han River

Taking a step back

Let’s get a break from the action. Probably the part I enjoyed the most during my photography sessions.

Chilling in Seoul’s Olympic Parc - couples and family, as usual. This picture has a Korean Drama vibe to it, that’s why I like it.

Chilling in Seoul’s Olympic Parc - couples and family, as usual. This picture has a Korean Drama vibe to it, that’s why I like it.

A bridge over the Han River. The River is more than 1 km wide!

A bridge over the Han River. The River is more than 1 km wide!

The heights of Seoul: Haebangchon. It’s one of the oldest neighborhood in Seoul - nothing like Gangnam.

The heights of Seoul: Haebangchon. It’s one of the oldest neighborhood in Seoul - nothing like Gangnam.

A gloomy day in Haebangchon

A gloomy day in Haebangchon

Saying farewell

Saying farewell

Tiny shops on the side streets

Tiny shops on the side streets

The streets are clean… I wish I could say the same of Paris

The streets are clean… I wish I could say the same of Paris

Cable management… 🤓

Cable management… 🤓

The city feels large and tight at the same times. It’s kind of weird.

The city feels large and tight at the same times. It’s kind of weird.

Some district look a bit like a mess at first, but it’s actually pretty charming.

Some district look a bit like a mess at first, but it’s actually pretty charming.

The tiny backstreets

The tiny backstreets

A tiny lake alongside the National Museum

A tiny lake alongside the National Museum

Some flower shop at night

Some flower shop at night

Feeling home?

Feeling home?

The day of the first snow at the Cheonggyecheon stream

The day of the first snow at the Cheonggyecheon stream

A street near a market, I don’t really remember where

A street near a market, I don’t really remember where

From above

Seoul is a very large city, 6 times as large as Paris. Taking a look from above can help put things in perspective.

A part of Seoul from the Bukhansan mountain. What a view! And what a hike. (800+ meters)

A part of Seoul from the Bukhansan mountain. What a view! And what a hike. (800+ meters)

The view from Seoullo 7017, an elevated, linear park in Seoul, built atop a former highway overpass.

The view from Seoullo 7017, an elevated, linear park in Seoul, built atop a former highway overpass.

The city itself feels like a hill. I nearly had to hike to go to my University’s campu.

The city itself feels like a hill. I nearly had to hike to go to my University’s campu.

The view from the top of Naksan park, along the old fortress.

The view from the top of Naksan park, along the old fortress.

This is just a tiny bit of what Seoul has to offer. I hope these pictures made you travel for a little bit, and I hope you’ll visit South Korea!

Note: These pictures, unlike this blog, are not under a CC license. You may not reuse them without my consent