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Photo taken by PJ Brez, a 28-year-old man who lives in the South Korean countryside. He has experienced depression, loneliness, homesickness, and feelings of isolation. He teaches English conversation at a university in Korea, but photography is his passion.
In his words: “I’ve been living in Korea for about four years. At first it was really exciting to be able to travel, learn a new language and culture, meet new people, experience new things. Yet after some time, I’ve begun to feel alienated. I no longer am current with what’s happening back home (I’m from the States) and I don’t really feel like I’m part of any culture. Yes, I experience Korean culture daily but I do not belong to it. Sure, I’m American but I can’t really relate to what’s happening there currently. Not only do I live in a foreign country, I live in the countryside of one. If I want to visit friends, I have to take a long bus ride up to Seoul or drive to a nearby city about 45 minutes away. My little town is quaint and quiet, and I do find peace living here up on a mountain overlooking the town. Yet, at times I feel very isolated and distant. It’s not easy for me to connect to others. Through living and working here I’ve often felt distant and detached from my family, country, and culture. I suppose I’m having difficulties identifying who I am and where I should be going. Also the longer I stay here, the further I feel from my country. I’m anxious about how to transition to a life back in the States.”
About this photo: “This photograph, ‘Cross Processed Self Portrait 2,’ was created from cross processed slide film in c41. It’s a double exposure.
I shoot everything on film. I don’t use digital at all – either to capture images or to edit them. I like the tangibility of film, and I like how it can be kept and enjoyed forever. Hard drives crash, USB sticks get lost, digital photos seem so temporary. I want to preserve something for generations to come. I figure that if I’m here, that if I’m experiencing life, that what I see and experience deserves to be shot on film – for my negatives will hopefully last for many hundreds of years after I’m gone. I find shooting film is not limiting – it’s liberating. I try to experiment with a number of forms – black and white (which I develop and print in a darkroom), infrared, cross processing, etc. I also shoot with pinhole and toy cameras to give a certain aesthetic. I don’t want to capture perfect, crisp images – for the world is not airbrushed. I want to capture an impression of the world that we inhabit.
I find photography to be really fascinating. It’s like a giant easter egg hunt. It gets me out of the house. It gets me exploring new places. I’m constantly on the hunt to find something odd, intriguing, or aesthetic. Also, using a darkroom is a very soothing experience. Putting on some tunes, turning on those dim red lights, and watching photos appear out of nowhere like magic is absolutely enthralling. Everyone should give it a go.”