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May 24, 2008

VOGUE 2008: The Dark Angel Pictorial
Source: VOGUE Korea / PlanetBH0712 / Fiona / midnight sun / summer0323 / k-popped.com

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The Korean photographer who did this VOGUE photoshoot with Byunghun-ssi.. is the one who calls him "Oppa" so affectionately. ^^

October 10, 2008

HERALD INTERVIEW: Incomplete without photography
By Song Woong-ki (kws@heraldm.com) koreaherald.co.kr

At first glance, Zo Sunhi, the widely praised photographer of pretty much everything, looks like the archetypal artist.

She appears relaxed and very bohemian. Usually terms like avant-garde or bohemian carry an image of pretentiousness. But she seems content to be who she wants to be - an unpretentious woman in an industry known for characters who put up an facade of hauteur.

Known for bringing out the truth in her subjects, she has spent two decades photographing celebrities, advertisements and album covers as well as places around the world - most notably India, where she plans to "try and travel there every year for the next 10 years."

Her recently-penned instructional book for aspiring photographers, "Shoot however you want to shoot," lays bare her philosophies toward her craft. She hopes people can look at the world in different perspectives using the power of photography.

With no formal education in the art form, she spent two decades honing her expertise and has garnered widespread acclaim, most notably her work with celebrities and public figures.

A firm believer in preserving photography in its purest form, she wants to make one thing clear - "great photography should be achieved the second you press the shutter of your camera and not as a result of crafty editing," she said.

"As far as determining color tones, texture, and the mood, editing is indeed an important part of the process, but as far as the impact of the imagery that a photo would have at first sight, the editorial process needn't be applied."

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Zo Sunhi [Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald]

In her newest book, she tells aspiring photographers to "get lonely." By self-inducing solitude, the capacity to view objects, landscapes and scenes becomes easier. "Around 2000 and 2001, I backpacked in India for 15 days. It was the first time in my life I'd traveled alone and because I didn't know the language aside from basic English phrases to get around, communication with people was sparse and I felt lonely," she said.

"But because there wasn't anybody to interact with, I saw things that I wouldn't have if I was busy chatting away with someone through my entire stay. So I found myself conversing with myself and going through a bit of self-reflection. That really helped me see the world in a different light - no pun intended."

Having begun her love for photography in college, it was initially the "calming" sound of the camera shutter that attracted her. "The first time I was attracted to photography was the instant I pressed the shutter of a camera. I loved the sound it made just before that feeling of excitement and tension of capturing the exact moment I wanted to capture," she said.

Taking a drag from her cigarette, she looked up at the loft of her photography studio with a sentimental expression on her face. "I thought to myself, spending the rest of my life experiencing these collection of emotions and the anticipation of hearing the shutter would be something I could devote myself to as long as I live."

She cannot imagine life without photography. She feels that without it, she is not complete. In the 20 years Zo has devoted her life to photography, she says, "there almost hasn't been a single day that I didn't have my camera with me at all times."

Her obsession was even more so when she took a seven-month sabbatical after giving birth to her son, Ki-hwee. It was then that she realized she could not live without her passion. Without it, she, and by extent her family, would become miserable.

But even passion can become stale. "I've felt jaded and exhausted many times from photography. But you really just have to keep shooting even if you are feeling a bit unmotivated or just out of ideas, because by constantly taking photographs, new inspirations will form and when that happens, all of the negativity that had been festering about is tossed out of the window and you feel revitalized," she said.

As previously mentioned, Zo is considered the most sought after celebrity portrait photographer in the nation. Actors, actresses and singers all want their pictures snapped by her.

"I try to catch the single most dominating attribute the subject has and magnify it. Everyone has that one thing that can best represent who they are and what they stand for," she said. "The way my subject stares into the viewfinder is also an important factor in determining how I'm going to approach shooting."

Throughout her career photographing all types of celebrities, she considers method actor, Ryu Seung-beom, to be her favorite subject.

"He's someone who has shown his soul in front of the camera. He's the one person who wasn't inhibited or concerned with how amazing he should look, nor did he try to hide anything in front of the lens," she said. "There was no false pretenses or superficiality to him. He was an open book. Truly a free-spirit. And because he didn't care how he looked, there was truth in his photographs."

Asked who she would photograph if she had the choice of anyone living or dead, she said, "I was in middle school when my father passed away and I would have liked to have photographed him. Which brings me to Song Gang-ho, who is someone I would like to photography as well. Snap him in a way that would give him a father-like aura," she said.

"As far as historical figures, I would like to have a session with Park Chung-hee. I think my characteristic in the way I view things when I take pictures comes from significant memories from the past and the environment I was in and when he was assassinated, I was still in elementary school. I was only in second-grade but I felt this impending doom that my country would go up in flames.

"Marilyn Monroe is also another I would like to photograph, but not in the cliche way of how she had always been photographed. I would want to deviate from her iconic image and capture her for who she really was. I'm sure there was sadness in her life and I would have liked to have captured that side of her."

IMAGE by Zo Sunhi



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