An eccentric preoccupation with what is not beautiful   4 comments


I’d prefer to be fascinated and surprised, rather than lulled and tranquilized.

And pretty things are not real, you know.     


 It’s right about 14 months since I took a short vacation outside of Korea. I won’t show you any photos today of Fukuoka Prefecture, Kyushu, because I’ve done so in the past, but in the 4 days and 5 nights we spent there I snapped several hundred photos and most of them look quite nice. Part of it was that it was a new place, and my eye was fresh to every bit of it, and that’s not true here in Korea.



Generally speaking, though, Japan looks quite nice. Japanese people work hard every day to make it look nice. There’s a lot of social pressure not to let others form a poor opinion of you in Japan, so the very least one is expected to do is keep appearances up. I don’t think this happens so much in other parts of Asia. Some, but not so much.


 Korea, on the other hand … let’s just say you will need to look around for beautiful places and nice things, and you may also need to get lucky. Yes, you can visit Insadong in Seoul, Pulguk Temple down in Cholla, or snap a shot of the sunset over the Han River, or the skyline at Busan. You can take pictures of those things, and a lot of people do.




Dare I say it, though? Cliché idea or not, there is more than one kind of beauty. There is randomness and clutter, and sometimes surfaces that could really use a wipe-down. Darkness, punctuated by sudden bright lights. Noises, unexpected and from indiscernible sources.

And sometimes something goes so far over to ugly that it pokes out on the other side of pretty. Or at least, interesting.



I find I’m not very interested in taking pretty pictures. They are too calming, and I guess prefer to be disturbed. Say what you like, ugly things are real. They are true.


Posted February 8, 2013 by thebobster in Bobsternation!, Photoblogging, Such and Such

4 responses to “An eccentric preoccupation with what is not beautiful

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  1. Yes Korea is a fantastic subject for taking pictures or things which are not pretty. But they are certainly interesting and require much more hard work by the viewer to understand them. That’s kind of why I like taking photos in Korea a lot.

    • I’m sure I’ve got the quote wrong, but who was it who said that happy families are all happy in the same way, but unhappy families are unique in the forms their unhappiness takes on … I think the same can be said about ‘pretty’ pictures – in fact, I linked to one of my own photos of Pulguksa, and when I took it I was standing next to a sign that told people where to stand to take the shot. Even though the picture I got was not all that bad, obviously it was near-indistinguishable from tens of thousands of other photos taken of the same thing.

      • I didn’t pick up on that link.

        I’ve seen those photo points before. I think I’m going yo have to come with some creative way of documenting how ridiculous they are, such as photographing the sign or pointing the camera in the opposite direction – there’s a spot at Hwaseing that this would suit perfectly.

      • Hwaseong!

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