EK Interview: Nina Ahn

Nina Ahn is a photographer from Seoul, South Korea.  Her photography is great and worldly, having traveled far from South Korea she has a great breadth.  Check out her interview below:

What is your name and how long have you wanted to be a photographer?

NINA AHN.  To be honest, I never expected to be a photographer. I still don’t feel I’m photographer.

art blog - Nina Ahn - Empty Kingdom

What was it like growing up in South Korea?

When I was young, I wanted to do many things at the school.  I especially liked drawing during art class and I loved writing. Since I started elementary school, I began writing a personal journal every night. I was too sensitive and quiet.  Everybody thought I was ideally suited for that work and I was satisfied with spending time alone with book and pencil

art blog - Nina Ahn - Empty Kingdom

How has your eye changed since you first began taking pictures?

I’m quite a changeable person so I wasn’t aware that apparently I had a relatively confident view about a subject or object whilst taking pictures. I just try to capture the beautiful scenes of daily life to me.  I find that reading books constantly impacts upon my perception of reality and the real world from a photographic standpoint.  The only thing I’m aware of is that the meaning of beauty has changed a lot in my mind without any obvious reason. Maybe there are reasons, but I can’t remember right now.

What camera(s)/lens(es) do you use? 

_Minolta x 700 with 50mm lense +28mm lense

_Konica Hexar AF

_Contax T2

art blog - Nina Ahn - Empty Kingdom

What different cameras have you used previously and how did you settle on the camera you use now?

I have used several cameras of different brands such as Nikon F3, Canon eos5, Olympus mu2, yashica t4 super

Every camera has pros and cons. These cameras are simple to operate for beginners. Canon eos5 was my first camera. The F3 is really nice especially as it’s absolutely amazing with b/w film, but terribly heavy to carry for women.  I enjoy snap shot photos, so I needed a bit lighter camera after 3 years, so I started again with small and cheap pos cameras like NikonNW, yashica T4 and Olympus mu2. Unfortunately they all easily broke down after 2 years of use. I think one of the reasons was that I used to abuse only one camera at a time. For example, When I lost my heart for the yashica T4 super I just took snap photographs with only that one, night and day  all the time. I don’t really know the cause, but sadly one day it died. So whenever I need to reluctantly change cameras like in this case, I just consider the previous camera’s weakness. Since I’ve used plenty of cameras (even if those are just cheap) I think T4 suits me best, but now it’s become hard to find in the used market for a reasonable price. Consequently, I decided to try much more durable and strengthened camera with accurate focus in the same price range. Previously, I had considered buying a Hexar AF, as the moment had come for me to choose a new camera, I decided to purchase one. The build quality is very good, but I am yet to process any films so I am unsure of its ability to express colour. Haha~

What is the ratio of photographs that you take to photographs you are proud of?

In the past I would have said I was happy with around half of my photo’s, but now photography has become a habit so I’m less disconcerting about what I shoot. I just take lots of pictures of the same scenes that I’m passionate about.

For example, There is a big tree nearby small tunnel in my town, I can’t stop taking that tree pictures Every time I pass that way. I know thers’s no difference. But that is still adorable and fresh to me. I just waste my films J

What (if any) after-effects do you employ?  How do you decide what to do in post in order to enhance or develop a photograph to get what you want out of it?

I only use the sharpen function and a little bit of curves because I usually fail with my focusing, but I’m usually satisfied with my colours I think I just prefer natural colors.

art blog - Nina Ahn - Empty Kingdom

Where have you travelled?  What are the textures like in different places?

Last year I travelled around a few countries. I lived in Istanbul for 2 months and then moved to England to stay with my boyfriend’s family for 6 months. I am currently staying in Japan.

I found the clouds and sky in England to be amazing, I was always in awe of the way the sky’s landscape could change. After living in Seoul for most of my life it’s been difficult for me to appreciate an unaltered sky as there are always power cable or large buildings blocking your view. Istanbul was a very active city with lots of wild cats, so I fell in love with taking photos of them. Japan has beautiful streets but they seem to be devoid of life most of the day so it’s been difficult to find people in town at the day time. Everybody seems to play hide and seek except me.

Where is your favorite destination from a photographer’s perspective?

Definitely Iceland

art blog - Nina Ahn - Empty Kingdom

Tell us about a location that you stumbled upon and fell in love with.

A small island in Korea called Gulupdo. There are only 10 houses on the island so it is relatively unspoiled with lots of wild deer and insects.

Have you ever gone somewhere you weren’t supposed to be to get a shot that you really wanted?

All the time.

art blog - Nina Ahn - Empty Kingdom

When was the last time you sat down and asked yourself: “how do I become a better photographer”?  What was your conclusion?

When a few influential editors spotted my work. Because Photography was and still is my hobby, l’ve never expected to be treated as proper photographer. but after some people was curious about my photos and started to call me photographer and sometimes they asked me for advice through emails A series of  these funny happenings gave me strange and complicated feelings I can’t explain well. I felt I should take photography more seriously.  But it should be fun for me.

What about a person make them a good subject to photograph?

Girls and Teenagers because I think they’re pure. They don’t try to show only the good aspect of themselves as adults usually do. I just like wandering beings who don’t know who they are.

art blog - Nina Ahn - Empty Kingdom

What is your favorite part of the body to photograph?

From neck to exposed shoulders, skinny back.

How have you manipulated exposure to achieve the emotion you wanted?

I just like to experiment. Depending on my mood I just choose different exposures, there’s no real reason behind it.

art blog - Nina Ahn - Empty Kingdom

If you were a super hero or villain what would your costume look like and what would your name be and who would be your nemesis?

Probably something to do with cats, my nemesis would be my boyfriend.

Tell us about your new book, where were the photos taken, who published it?

I recently quit my job and spent a year traveling with my fiance.  My fiance is British, he was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.  I spent time with his family over 5 months in his dad house.  While I was staying there, I found some interesting culture, it was different than I imagined, Barnsley isn’t popular sightseeing place to foreigners.  It was originally an industrial city for miners in the past so while there isn’t much happening for young people it looked beautiful to me.  I was happy to walk through the wilderness around abandoned pit field with lovely doggies ” George and Alfi” every day at the same time like Kant.  I published a personal visual diary of good memories in Barnsley with through Jayou, a publisher of Labas books.  Labas is a small artistic publication dealing predominantly with travel and travel photographers who have visited interesting locations which was established in 2010 November. it’s not an official and commercial company.  But Jayou loves sharing travel’s personal experience and unusal photos, keeps trying to introduce undiscovered photographers.