JUNGWOO PARK

For the first installment of our brand-new interview series, Tetenal Talks. We interview Korean based photographer about the fascinating world he creates through his body of work. 

JUNGWOO PARK

For the first installment of our brand-new interview series, Tetenal Talks. We interview Korean based photographer about the fun and fascinating world he creates through his body of work. 

Jungwoo Park prefers to limit himself to a specific style of photography. In fact, he openly details his resistance to classifying himself by any one of the many titles someone in his field may go by today. “My dream is to just become a ‘photographer’ without the preceding modifier” he explains.

Jungwoo’s body of work is united by a striking visual style that he seems to have cultivated through years of experimentation. The photographer has covered an impressive range of photographic genres in his journey so far, including fashion photography, conceptual portraiture and commercial photography. The further you scroll down his Instagram feed, the more blurred these distinctions become, as aspects of still life, fine art, and documentary photography are freuqently incorporated.

The artist’s beginnings in photography started with a portrait of his mother, taken on a Lomo LC-A found at home. Driven by an innate curiosity and love for “observing … recording and collecting” mementos of his surroundings, Jungwoo has continued to develop his creative practice – studying documentary photography at university and spending four years as a photographer’s assistant. These interests and details persist throughout his work today as he incorporates a range of influences into his work, such as human life and expression, culture and music – all of which he highlights as creative influences.

These elements combine with a vibrant, often high-contrast colour palette present in many of the photos Jungwoo takes, lending them a bold, playful energy, and are often complemented by a variety of props, including ornate body adornments, flowers, shapes, items from the environment and objects that often reveal further context.

One series of Jungwoo’s personal photography combines elements of still life and fine art photography, featuring a little expected set of subjects: carrots in the first and tomatoes in the second. Sliced into various segments and meticulously arranged in a way that more resembles a sculpture or art installation than everyday items of food. The third image centres a subject hunched over a large red exercise ball dressed in a red skinsuit and donning a green hair tie. The final image reflects the process used to create the first two, with the shape of a fruit being the final form and not a resource to construct the final image.

Another collection of photos, titled ‘Molecule’ incorporates a fundamental aspect of Chemistry to achieve a fascinating artistic effect. Black spheres – molecules, often linked by thin bonds – occupy space within several conceptual portraits and still life photographs. One pairing presents a composition of these spheres spreading outwards from a single large sphere, but ultimately tied to each other by their molecular bonds. The next places a human subject, curled into a vulnerable position and visibly marked with what seems to be dirt, amongst what seems to be hundreds of these black spheres atop a large black circle. The lighting and layering, along with the pure blacks in both photos creates a profound sense of depth within the images,

An alternate image from the series sees a human form, constructed from the same black spheres. The figure is imprecise and asymmetrical, however the prop styling is precise enough to create an unmistakable silhouette of this figure, seemingly standing hand-on-hips, exuding attitude on the level of a model, or perhaps a dramatic teen.

The same meticulous yet playful approach to creating is applied to the commercial work Jungwoo Park undertakes. When photographing fashion, the photographer incorporates dynamic, unconventional poses and styling like those which appear in his personal pieces; his product photography makes use of saturated colours, and more of the meticulous prop styling that extends throughout his work.

This level of detail, while incredibly impressive in any image, is often not the work of Jungwoo alone. He is open about the fact that he often works with a small army of stylists, set designers, hair and makeup artists and models at the studio he manages in The Republic of Korea. Collaboration is clearly something Jungwoo embraces to elevate his work, when I asked him to name a few of his favourite collaborative projects and collaborators, he provided me with a 28 strong list of names.

I find myself drawing comparisons between Jungwoo Park as an artist, and the work of a video director, which is only strengthened by the fact that the photographer mainly shoots with a film, a medium responsible for so many iconic qualities in past movies that people still aspire to achieve. What’s more, he highlights photographer and videographer Bruce Weber as a someone he would love to be mentored by, I imagine because of the similarities in much of the content they capture and the desire to explore movie direction that Jungwoo expresses in response to me asking him what other creative media he would like to experiment with.

If we go by image quality alone, it seems like he’s progressing quite quickly down his envisioned path, and the qualities he demonstrates in so openly coordinating with other creatives to bring about a great piece of work are sure to propel him forward. Nonetheless, following Jungwoo as he expands his creative universe, whether by still or moving images is sure to be a magical journey for all involved.