Busan

When Paul and I set off for our honeymoon, I didn't expect to photograph much. One of my favorite directors, Michael Haneke, said "the photograph specifically and visual images in general are important parts of the commodification of vacationing." The vacation alone doesn't do it for most people; it's typically the photographs afterward, the packaging of experience, that "makes it real." I didn't want to depreciate such an important and fleeting time in our lives. I wanted our trip—two weeks in the cities and countryside of South Korea—to be pure, just for us and more about experiencing than remembering. No anticipatory nostalgia, no ignoring the scenery just to shoot it.

So, I set some constraints for myself. I would look first, shoot second. I wouldn't take multiple shots of the same scene, wouldn't review images on camera after I shot them. I brought one camera, my D800, one lens, my favorite 50 prime, and just a few memory cards.

I kept up with the constraints but still shot incessantly throughout the trip. I'm lucky to have a partner who doesn't mind sitting on a rock in the light rain while I run up and down the streets of Insadong, chasing after the architecture I couldn't stop thinking about five blocks ago. Who doesn't mind being told to pause during dinner as a particularly desperate live octopus struggles to get out of his mouth. Who races the sunset home so I can capture the little golden valley behind our pension before we leave at dark the next morning. What can I say? I was actually present in those moments, trying to prolong something that was probably gone as soon as I noticed it.

Recently a study came out exploring the connection between photography and memory. When you click to capture a moment and move on, your memory of the moment is possibly impaired. But if you zoom in, find a small detail, the small moment, then memory of everything—what's in or out of frame—is stronger, more visceral. Here's to hoping that these photographs from Busan, our first stop on our trip together, capture something that resonates. Here are some things I remember there: a fireworks show caught from a restaurant balcony; rowdy nights in Soju tents and bars with friends new and old; hiking around a fortress, stopping every few moments to express some noise of awe; finding Elizabeth Browning's famous poem written on the wall of our love motel, a poem often joyfully recited to us by Paul's uncle; the plastic surgery ads everywhere, the heavy white face masks; visiting the world's largest department store in the morning and then, in the afternoon, the tiny street markets where women sat on the street peeling vegetables and hooking fish; legions of hikers in Northface jackets; drinking makgeolli in the morning on Haeundae Beach, Hong Sang-soo style; eating hotteok for the first time; and brushing up against the city borders to visit an idyllic countryside, marveling at the simplistic beauty of clothes drying on a line. I hope the photographs do not become all that's left.

Firework festival in Busan

Night food market

Night food market

Night food market

Night food market

Night food market

Men eating at restaurant

Main street

Market

Bar scene

Bar

Walking

Love motel in the morning

Paul in the street

Smoking outside restaurant

Advertising

Cat

Street market

Young girl and old lady

Subway in Korea

Old lady at market

Fish eye

Market

Woman at market

Hotteuk

Old lady in the corner

Man looking over subway tracks

Businessman

Morning

Morning at beach

Paul

Paul's ring

Me on beach