Street Photography and Streetstyle with Michael Hurt
Wondering what are the trends on the streets of Seoul now? Where some of the trends come from? As well as the person who captures the real essence of street photos here in Seoul?
I conducted an interview with Michael Hurt, who is a street photographer and professor living in Seoul, South Korea. He has been living in Seoul since 2002 and has been doing street photography since then, as well as street fashion photography since 2006. He got into street fashion when he was doing street photography and was getting more interested in gender. After a certain point, he realized, what people were wearing was interesting as much as what they were doing. At that moment, he started creating a blog, which showed what people were wearing, and people were starting to respond to it.
Hurt started from street photography and from there on he had more of a commercial interest, which people started to pay attention to. So, from there on his street photography evolved into street fashion photography. Especially, after he started to attend Seoul Fashion Week from early 2007. Seoul Fashion Week is an event, which showcases new fashion collections and new designs. The event includes impeccable street fashion from the people, who attend the event also the street photographers, who capture their styles and moments. Hurt says, “People say that to be a street fashion photographer, the way that idea has entered Korea there is a certain image associated with a street fashion photographer. Like, you must look like the subject you are taking pictures of. So, the photographer must be fashionable as well, which is one of the reasons some people do it, so to look cool”.
Hurt’s street photos are different as well as unique. They capture the nitty gritty truth about whatever is happening in the picture. If you see a picture of Hurt you can distinguish it easily from other photographers. You could immediately see that it’s his work.
“My standard is, if I can’t find my picture in a stack of hundred other picture, I’m not doing my job right”.
Hurt says, “People don’t think of these striped slippers as a fashion item, and when I show these to Koreans they think that I made a visual joke. However, it is a fashion item and people wear it off and on”. Hurt also continues by saying, “Paepis like for example Hyeji make these slippers more popular by deciding to play with the slipper concept on purpose. Basically, people like Hyeji, whatever they do, people copy it months later. It is just a mode of fashion, understood as what people actually wear, regardless of whether it’s supposed to be fashionable, hence I think the slippers are a good thing to talk about”, says Hurt.
“Girl with a flowery mini skirt crossing her legs highlighting these slippers”
“I like this shot. I got lucky walking by and saw a girl with a flowery mini skirt crossing her legs highlighting these slipper”, Hurt says of the image above. “This is partial street fashion but it is also pure street”. Hurt describes the photos as a mix of the gritty, the real the non-fashionable hard-edged, I guess not so pretty part of the street fashion culture mixed with the low angle shot. Being one of the, if not the first, street photographers, Hurt has definitely left his mark in the street fashion industry here in Korea. Hurt says, “I always introduce myself to other people by giving them my card and tell them that I am a professor as well as the first street photographer in Korea’’, says Hurt. Most people had their doubts and told him that he doesn’t look like a street fashion photographer at all. However, he made a point on his site, to show his history and credentials as well as he has all the pictures and dates to prove it.
You can see more of Michael Hurt’s photography and blogposts on his Instagram: Kuraeji, Deconstructingkorea.com, and seoulstreetfashionweek.com.
Amiira Ismail – The AsiaN Media Intern