Seoul street photography is the focus of this interview and images by Marius Vieth. While as a whole, Korea street photography is pretty much recommended, these images have been shot in the capital city.
Seoul Street Photography
Marius has been to Korea and here is his street photography and words.
Please tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Marius Vieth and I'm a art photographer focused on street photography. I was born and raised in a tiny village in the North of Germany, but I’m currently based in Amsterdam and I travel most of the time.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
I guess photography found me in a way. All my life I was trying to find my creative outlet. It wasn’t until 2011 when I bought my first camera. At the end of 2012 I wanted to quit. I just couldn’t feel it. “Why not go out with a bang?”, I thought. Without much preparation I decided to do a 365 project, which led me to my much desired oasis: street photography. I loved it so much after a couple of months that I quit my job and dedicated my life to it ever since.
Whats inspires your photography?
My deepest inspiration is my eye, heart and soul. My eye is the way I see the world. It’s my very own perspective on it. Colors and minimalist compositions really speak to me. My heart is the motor behind my photography, my passion and my drive.
Think of it as the fuel for my creative engine. My soul is my history and my future, my values, wishes, knowledge, needs, troubles and dreams. All this combined with the world around me is my deepest source of inspiration I’d say.
What does it mean to you?
Honestly, photography is my life. I clearly remember how it happened during my 365 project. At first taking photos after work was just a change of scenery. After months I had the feeling that my job was my change of scenery. A few months later during my “Seoul Searching” project it hit me. People were always asking me what I did for a living. I said “I do marketing research for a living, but I’m living for photography.” I couldn’t lie to myself anymore and quit my job when I got home. The self-portrait “Time Is Running Out” captures that moment for me. I either do it now or never! Ever since that moment photography was my life.
How did you start Seoul street photography?
I took most of my 365 shots in Düsseldorf, Germany. It was time for me to see whether I could apply my style in a completely different setting. Since I always loved traveling to Asia, I decided to go to South-Korea. I expected it to be a lot easier when I decided to go there. In Düsseldorf, all the streets are very wide, clean and not really pulsating. Seoul is alive and kicking. My love for reduction and minimalism were really put to a test there. But that’s what made it so challenging and rewarding for me.
How did you approach the subject matter?
Nowadays, ideas and concepts drive my photo sets. Back then, I simply took my camera, listened to some music and hit the streets. I still do that, but with a certain idea in mind. After doing sightseeing during the day, I always went out at night. I love night street photography! Usually I spend 5-6 hours on the streets every night.
What cameras did you shoot with and why?
For most of my career I was working with a used 5D Mark II and a 35mm lens. I started out with a 50mm lens, but realised soon that it was too narrow for the concept I had in mind. In Korea I already had the 35mm and later moved on to a 24mm lens. Wide sceneries simply attract me.
Any anecdotes you can share?
I will never forget how we went up this insanely beautiful mountain. It was so much fun. The gorgeous red and yellow trees in the Korean autumn, the fresh air and the challenging walk up there. To make it even more fun, we bought a lot of Korean beer, rice wine and Soju. We enjoyed the beautiful sunset up there and killed it all. It was so perfect and peaceful – till we realised we had to walk down again in the dark all drunk without any directions.
What are you looking for in street photography?
To me, street photography is taking self-portraits through strangers. It’s such an intimate, exciting way to connect your eye, heart and soul with the world. Street photography is my way of expressing how much I love life. I’ve tried basically all genres, but capturing strangers on the stage of life is the most rewarding and deep way to embrace the whole world and yourself.
Any closing comments?
Your deepest wish is to live for photography? You can and you will. There is only one factor that determines whether it comes true or not: desire. If you want to do this more than anything in the world, are willing to live below your regular means for a while, leave your comfort zone, educate yourself constantly and pour all your eye, heart and mind into it, you will. I promise. If today were your last day, would you go out and take photos? Yes? Then do it right now. Grab your cam, get out there and take the most amazing photo you’ve ever taken!