Photographers Who View the World From the Heart

on February 21, 2014
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When Sunghee Lim, a 20-year-old visually impaired student, first heard about the photo trip, she was doubtful. “I didn’t know why we were going on a trip to take photos. We can’t see the pictures we take anyways.”

Last winter, Yongho Kang, a famous Korean photographer, and six visually impaired students from Hanbit School for the Blind in Korea, went on a three-night four-day photo trip to Gangwon province, east of Seoul. Gangwon province is a place where the mountains and sea both exist, so the photographer took the students there to allow them to feel, smell, touch, and hear nature while taking photos.

Despite initial skepticism students had before the trip, the students had a great time, taking thousands of pictures with the Galaxy S4 zoom. Curious to know about the students and their trip, Samsung Tomorrow met up with two of the six students, Sunghee Lim and Nara Shin, at the Samsung Insight Exhibition 2. Both were very bright, energetic, and were so close they seemed like sisters.

(Nara (18, left) and Sunghee (20, right) smiling)

Samsung Tomorrow (ST): How was the photo trip?

Nara: Actually, it was my second time going on a photo trip. But, this time it was a little longer. Hence, I was able to capture more spectacular scenes and experience a lot more than the previous trip. Last time, I took pictures whenever something amazed me. However, this time I took more pictures that represented who I am. So, overall, I had a great time!

SungheeFirst, when I heard that I was going on the photo trip, I had doubts about the purpose of this trip. But since I was going outside of Seoul and was chosen to go on the trip, I felt happy. Although I did not like taking photos before the trip, as I took more and more photos during the trip, I ended up becoming an avid photographer.

ST: How did you feel when you took pictures with the Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom?

Sunghee: Frankly, I did not like to take pictures in the past. I used to be so lazy during classes when we had to take pictures when I was in middle school. However, I got to enjoy taking pictures during the trip, capturing anything that interested me. Thanks to the Talk Back Mode of the smartphone, I was able to take photos easily as the phone told me which features I selected and when I took a shot. Now I know the joy of taking photos. After the trip, I have been taking pictures of subjects around me. I take my camera everywhere I go now.

ST: Seeing the photos on the wall behind you, we can feel the excitement and joy you had through the pictures. How did you take such great pictures? Did photographer Kim teach you anything?

Nara: First, thank you for your compliment. No, he didn’t really teach us any specific skills. He just sometimes gave me advice on how to take the picture better. For instance, when taking a picture of the waves, he told me to move the camera following the sound of the waves. Most of the time, I just took pictures when I felt it was the right time to take them. For instance, while I was walking on the street, I felt the sun shining on me so I just took a picture of the sun and the bright sky. If the object that I was taking was tangible, I first went very close to the object, touched it, then went 3 to 4 steps back, and took a picture. Also, if I was trying to take a photo of a sound, I would take the camera towards the sound and press the shutter.

Sunghee: Photographer Kim told us where things were but did not really teach us any specifics. I guess he wanted us to take pictures freely without any limitations. Most of the time, before I took a picture, I tried to touch and feel the subject first. I also tried to see it with my dim eyesight. However, I mostly depended on my hearing ability.

Nara and Sunghee taking photos of the sheep with the photographer

ST: We saw some pictures of you with the sheep. When you first met the sheep, how did you feel?

Sunghee: I was first so scared because I thought the sheep would bite me. However, when I went inside the sheep ranch and gave food to the sheep, the sheep did not bite me when I touched it. I became very close to the sheep in the end, riding on the back of the sheep, touching the sheep’s face, and taking many pictures. I had so much fun there.

ST: How did you feel when you touched the sheep and how did you take the pictures?

Sunghee: I first believed that the sheep’s fur would be smooth and cozy. However, when I actually touched it, it was, in fact, very rough. I tried to take pictures of the touch that I felt when I gave food to the sheep on my hand and when I touched the sheep’s face and fur, following the bleating sound of the sheep.

ST: What do you remember the most during the trip?

Sunghee: I remember when we were on the luxurious cruise. I felt like an actress when I walked on the carpet. The steak was also so delicious. I also cannot forget the fireworks. Although the sound was incredibly loud, it felt good when the lights got larger and smaller intermittently.

Sunhee smiling when taking her selfie

ST: What is your favorite picture among the ones you took?

Nara: The picture I took of Sunghee is my favorite. Before I touched her face, I knew the shape of her face roughly but not every feature. However, as I touched her face, I knew where and how big her eyes, nose, and mouth were. Not only was it interesting but also she has become much closer to me.

ST: If you had a chance to participate in the next trip with the photographer, where would you like to go?

Sunghee: I would like to go to Paris. I want to eat French cuisine. I also want to go to Australia. I want to touch the kangaroos and even ride on them if I can. I just want to go abroad. 

After our interview, we took a tour around the Samsung Insight Exhibition 2. The exhibition was really a place for all people, regardless of their abilities. First, on every floor, there were three poles in the center, which were covered in wool, white cotton, and bamboo sheaths so that visitors can touch and feel them. Nara could tell the wool was not real since it did not have the unique smell nor was it as curly as the sheep she had felt at the sheep ranch during the trip.

cotton curved poles

Also, there were some pieces made of clay that looked exactly the same as the picture exhibited next to it. It is said that photographer Kim made it so that visually impaired visitors can also know what the pictures look like. Nara and Sunghee knew which photo they were seeing just by touching the clay pieces, without even reading the title written with braille on the wall.

Photos of the sheep and pieces of wool

We could also hear different natural sounds in the background like sheep bleating on the first floor, waves coming in and out the shore on the second floor, and birds chirping on the third floor. It seemed as if we were at the farm, near the sea, and in the forest, which were the places the students went.

Moreover, we were able to touch real nature. On the second floor, there was a short wall filled with different kinds of shells. Nara and Sunghee could not stop touching them. They said that it was their first time touching shells.

shells that were brought from the sea  during the trip

After our tour, we asked Nara and Sunghee what they wanted to tell the visitors of the exhibition.

Sunghee and Nara looking at a picture of pine needles

Nara: I want the visitors to see and accept the way we are, not having any prejudice against us.

Sunghee: I want to tell the visitors that we, visually impaired students, can also take pictures just like normal people. Also, just as Nara said, I want people to have no bias against people like us. I also want to show people that we are living in this society as well; that we are part of the world. I want people to know who I am.

Through the exhibition, Nara and Sunghee both said that they now feel more connected to the world and have more confidence expressing and communicating with people in Korea thanks to the Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom. The Samsung Tomorrow team also hopes that more students and people like Nara and Sunghee continue to communicate with the world, through Samsung products.

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