Photos of a gentle Korean summer with Min Hyun-woo
The photographer’s tenderhearted photos are a welcome, and timely, escape to nature.
Photography Min Hyun-woo
In times like this, it’s easy to feel like the world is small and closed off. The desire to escape from cities and run away to the quiet solitude of the countryside is on a lot of minds right now. It’s one reason why the work of Korean photographer Min Hyun-woo feels particularly arresting at the moment. His gentle, colour-soaked photos feature old and new friends tenderly contemplative while surrounded by nature and bodies of water.
Hyun-woo’s work explored nature and its effect on us long before the world’s current problems made us feel small and locked away. The 32-year-old photographer grew up in the Korean village of Samcheok before moving to Seoul at 20, and the difference between urban and rural settings is one of many influences in his work. “I like to see nature. Being born in the country might not be the only reason," he explains. "There are few good things just as they are, but nature is. The city reminds me of a strange sense of inferiority. But in nature I feel free and capable of anything I want.”
Hyun-woo first experimented with photography around the time digital cameras rose to prominence. “My neighbours liked to take pictures. There was a brother I always followed and everything he did looked cool. I started to take pictures with my brother,” he says. It became a hobby and then a job, despite a brief foray into studying fashion. “I just like to watch fashion. I don't have the talent to make it myself,” he jokes.
The use of colour in his work is a particular standout, even though Hyun-woo feels like he’s yet to reach his potential with it. “It’s still incomplete. I have an imaginary colour in my head and I am still immature in expressing it,” he says. In his series We Are Going To Live This Summer he uses colour to add a sense of longing — a golden-tinged nostalgia that might be starting to turn sour.
Generally in profiles this is the moment where a list of the photographer's past credits would be mentioned. Magazine names and fashion campaigns that they’d accumulated in their career would be spelled out, as if to add authority to their talent. Instead Hyun-woo would like to focus on his work for its own merit and politely declines to list his publishing history. “I don't want to borrow another name to prove what I'm doing… I hope you understand,” he explains. And who can blame him — the work speaks for itself.
Photography by Min Hyun-woo