I have to respond to the harsh criticism directed at landscape photography in Jeju in the review of Brian Miller’s book (“The Village Across the Sea,” Issue 40).
In his review, Alpha Newberry states: “The reality of photography on Jeju ... is that of “tripod holes.” In other words, photographers know where to place their tripods because the holes of their predecessors are already there. One need only to look at the winners and runner-ups of the Jeju World Heritage Photo Competition to come face to face with this sad fact ... photography becomes a game of chance where the winner is ... lucky enough to be in a spot when the clouds are perfect and the light is just warm or cold enough.”
I think its extremely unfair to denigrate landscape photography as a whole, and the great work of many excellent photographers on the island in particular, in this way. As any talented landscape photographer will tell you, it can often take days and sometimes weeks, months or even years of failed attempts to find that “perfect” light, weather, positioning, composition, and color that makes a truly great landscape photograph.
I won a “Fine Arts” prize in the 2010 Jeju UN Heritage Photo Contest for my image “The Mouth of Halla.” I spent years and did more than two dozen early morning trips up to the top of Mt. Halla before I was able to get just the right light and weather conditions for that picture. While not perfect, its uniqueness has put it on display at Jeju International Airport for several months.
So, maybe the writer should put his computer down, get up early and spend a day with one of the many talented photographers in Jeju and learn what it takes to capture a really great landscape photograph. Watch out for those tripod holes!
(Douglas MacDonald is a longtime Jeju resident, photographer and English teacher from Canada.)
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