If you have read this blog for a while then you might have noticed that I didn’t post all that much in 2016. The truth was that I was busy and if you read my last post, you would have found out that I was not really in the best state of mind for much of the year. However, that does not mean that the year was all bad. There was actually quite a lot of good stuff that happened. This is what I am going to focus on here as this is the end of the year here in Korea and I am looking forward to a better and more happy 2017.
The year started with me coming to terms with the passing of my best friends and mentor, Dave Harvey. I wrote about him near to the end of 2015 but it really started to hit me throughout 2016. I felt that this was one of my key struggles in 2016 as the sadness felt like an anchor to everything that I wanted to achieve. However, as time passed I knew that Dave would not want me to throw it all away and I had to push on.
I did a lot of work with different magazines around the country and a few outside of Korea as well. This to me was where I felt more alive. These “missions” that I was sent on allowed me to push my photography into new places. It also forced me out of the conventional landscape modes that I fall into sometimes. From going to Pohang to the alleys of Jagalchi Market in Busan, I covered a lot of ground in order to make some pretty pictures.
The biggest lesson that I learned from this work was not to give up. In one of my last assignments for Seoul Magazine, I was sent to cover the Eonyang area. They really wanted a picture of the silver grass or eoksae fields. Although I had photos they wanted ones from a different spot. I set out early in the morning and proceed to make a HUGE mistake. Which was taking a shortcut over one of the most dangerous peaks that I have seen in over a decade.
The sad part was that by the time I got up to the peak it was too late to take the easy way down but worst of all, my camera recorded nothing! It malfunctioned and I left with only the pictures that I took on the way up. Thankfully with a few edits the magazine was satisfied with what I sent them.
In a rather surprising twist, I was contacted by Ulsan MBC who were interested in doing a documentary about the foreign community in Ulsan. We gathered at the studio to discuss the project. It was unclear what the final result was but it was an interesting experience. It kickstarted my interest into making more videos and doing live broadcasts of my photographic outings.
One of the most surprising things was seeing myself on tv for the first time in a way that made me realize how much image and charisma play a part in today’s photography celebrities. I realized that I am far from any celebrity and that I certainly lack the on-camera poise that people like Chase Jarvis or Trey Ratcliff have.
At any rate, it was a fun project to have been a part of and there were certainly some nice exposure from it. I like the fact that many of my students saw it and realized that I was not just an English teacher. I was happy to have them “report back” to me that they saw the show and that they liked my pictures that were shown in the documentary.
Working with the City of Ulsan
I have been in Ulsan for many years. I first arrived in July of 2003 and was in love with the lifestyle and freedom that I had here. Over a decade later, I am one of the last long-term expats here. Many of my old friends have long since moved away and only vague memories of their time here. For me, the time spent here paid off when the city of Ulsan contacted me about my photos. They had admired my style for a long time and wanted to put them up around the city to celebrate the new “12 scenic sights of Ulsan” project that they started.
They chose two of my photos for signs to commemorate the scenic spots and then they commissioned an interview with a leading travel magazine in Korea. It was a huge leap for me, especially doing the interview alone and in Korean. At any rate, my wife was able to make sure that I sounded alright and that were were not any misunderstandings or things lost in translation.
The interview appeared in not only a major travel magazine but in the Jeju Air inflight magazine as well. It was huge exposure for me and no doubt help solidify my standing as a professional photographer in Ulsan, if not the rest of Korea.
Cinemagraphs and Tutorials
As many of you know, I have been working with the fine people over at Flixel and creating some cool cinemagraphs with their amazing app. I can’t say enough good things about these wonderful people. Over the year, I took some interesting chances with my creations. I reached out to DeathWish Coffee to see if they’d be interested in helping with a project. The cinemagraphs were a hit and Flixel even used the footage in some of their training material.
Following that, I decided to started my own online tutorial site Learn.Jasonteale.com which is where you can learn how I make cinemagraphs and (in a few weeks) learn beginner lightroom techniques as well. The start of the tutorials were a huge high point for me and I made it on F-stoppers, a popular photography site thanks to Dylan Goldby for interviewing me.
The tutorials allowed me a glimpse into a world that I have grown to love. I am a teacher and in 2016 I completed my Masters of Education as well. However, after spending over a decade battling the nagging feeling that maybe ESL is not what I should be teaching, I realized that online courses are what I should be doing. 2017 will have more courses added to the learn.jasonteale.com site.
5 Day Deal
One of the high points of 2016 was getting to know Griffin and Valerie Stewart who are the co-owners of the amazing 5 Day Deal better. They taught me so much about the business side of being a creator that I am forever in their debt. By working with them, I saw my own strengths and weaknesses. Being a part of their team showed me how much drive and productivity I have to have in order to create a successful online business. Their passion and drive is inspiring. To be honest, now that I got a glimpse of how they have put together as well as run the 5 day deal made me realize that those two are nothing short of geniuses.
Gallery Exhibitions and National Geographic
I was lucky to have had my photos exhibited in a number of places throughout the year. Most notably in Seoul as part of the National Geographic “Through a Lens” exhibition. I was one of only a few photographers chosen, which completely shocked me as there were tons of talented photographers who were a part of the photowalk. I showed my work in Busan as well as most recently in Ulsan City Hall.
Getting to meet an Editor from National Geographic during a two-day event was also a high point of 2016. Making an honest connection with a person like that was a great experience. I was lucky enough to sit down with Jeanne Modderman who is a photo editor for National Geographic and their “Your Shot” site in particular. Having coffee with a person like that awesome and gave me a lot of insight into the world of National Geographic.
Onward to 2017
With that being said and time quickly running out for 2016, I just wanted to say that I am going to make 2017 the best year ever! There are going to be a few changes in store for the coming year and I will elaborate more on that in a few days. The short version is that the Sajin blog is going to be a center for learning. Rather than focussing so much on my photos, it will teach you how to make your own. Learn.jasonteale.com will be stocked with the best tutorials from lightroom to Aurora HDR and more.
With that being said, I wish you a happy new year!