When I got asked to shoot Beomosa Temple for an upcoming article in Seoul Magazine, I was really excited. Mostly because I love Beomosa and the other reason was that I really wanted to see what goes on at a temple stay which was the focus of the article. Temple stay programs are a unique way to experience temple life. However, most of the people that I asked about these programs either hated them or did them as a one off thing.
I think mostly it is because temple life is not as laid back and relaxing as it appears to be. Early mornings and hikes are a part of the program and not to mention the 108 bows that are performed during the prayer bead making part. When I went, I quite enjoyed the time and was really thinking about coming back. For 70,000 won for 2 days, it is not too bad.
Getting to photograph the monks and the temple with their permission was something that I really enjoyed. I have shot this temple a lot since I started working BUFS down the road. I normally tread lightly and try not to really be noticed. This was a chance to really see what goes on and not get yelled at. Overall, I found the people who run the temple stay program and the head monks to really be kind and quite open about having a photographer around.
The best part of the evening was when the drumming started. It was an incredible experience and one that I think that everyone would enjoy. The second great thing was being about to shoot inside the main hall. Normally these places are off-limits to photography but that evening they opened up the doors for me. I felt honoured to be given the privilege to photograph inside this sacred and old temple hall.
The evening ended for me as the guests of the temple stay prepared to make their prayer beads. A group of German tourists joined the group at that point. They were not too thrilled to have me photographing them and I took the hint when a large German lady shouted at me. I thanked the temple stay organizers for letting me get some shots and then went down the road for a much needed coffee at my favourite cafe Route Coffee.