Duran Levinson, digital cinematographer from South Africa, made a trip through five Asian countries within two months for his analog project “I’m fine today”, a self-published book that will be out early next year. Within that bigger project, we can discover this set of photos featuring street snaps from some well-known locations in Seoul mixed with fashion photography and some of Seoul’s more interesting and alternative models. Levinson describes this city as one with an advanced mixture of culture, traditions, fashion, self-expressionism and amazing food, along with a crazy party and drinking culture. As he says, he learned on his first night out that “everyday is Friday in Korea”.
Which were the feelings you wanted for the viewers with this collection?
These photos were all taken in Seoul, South-Korea, while I was on a 3 month photography trip in Asia. I wanted to capture portraits of interesting people in Korea. I shot with some models I discovered through Instagram along with some of the friends I made on the way. This project is obviously more fashion and style orientated and I wanted to capture the mood I was in while in Korea, which was a peep inside the life of the beautiful people of Korea, shot in a unique way from the perspective of an outsider.
Which are the things that transform Asia in such an interesting point for you and your projects?
I love learning about each country I visit with their culture and traditions. Every place is obviously so different but some countries like South-Korea have such amazing scenes in terms of art and tradition that I was very drawn to it. I like to experience new things and document them in a way that the viewer can make up their own story in their head to go with the images.
Where and how do you find your models? How do you make them feel confortable in front of your lenses to acquire that intimate sense your images have?
Most of the models I shoot with when I travel are people I find on Instagram or through mutual friends, that live in the country I visit. All my work is very spontaneous and inquisitive, meaning that pretty much everyone I shoot with is not really planned even the locations, it usually comes together on the day and I just have fun with it. Too much planning isn’t really an option when you are on the road trying to shoot as much as possible. I suppose being spontaneous and experiencing things for the first time behind my camera is a style I’ve adapted and embraced with my photography.
Which was the most shocking thing you learned about Korea with this series?
Not so shocking, but Koreans are just generally the coolest people I’ve ever partied with. They know how to drink and take care of foreigners, and the only shocking experience I had were really bad hangovers, I blame the Soju!
Why do you choose analogue over digital?
I am a digital cinematographer and visual effects artist which means I work with digital equipment for my job. I prefer to shoot all my personal projects on film as I enjoy the whole process and overall look and feel of the final images. I like experimenting with different techniques and scanning my final selected images and seeing them in print. I’m a full film believer and will continue to shoot my work on 35mm.
How was your workflow developing these images? What gear did you use?
I kept the rolls of film from Korea until I returned to Cape Town, South Africa where I live. I developed the film here and am given back hi-res jpeg files. I then check them out on Lightroom and make selects. I then get the best images from each roll scanned on an Imacon scanner as a tiff file.
I shoot mainly on point & shoot cameras but this project was shot entirely on a Contax T2 and a Contax G2, which are my favorite cameras I own.
Your favorite picture from this project? Why? Could you tell us the story behind it?
Between the hangovers and heat waves I was able to link up with some photographers and crews such as ‘Places + Faces’ from London. I got to work with some really cool people and snap a couple of photos of the P+F crews clothing and models, which ended up being super fun.