Posted on February 20, 2014
Never before or since my short trip to North Korea have I felt so perplexed about the realities of a country. It’s easy to know certain things: it’s a hermit nation, it’s citizens have little to no access to the outside world, it’s been run by a family of despots since the end of the Korean War, and it seemingly revels in its own bad behavior, taunting the world but stopping just short of biting the hands that feed it. But like all things worth exploring, what’s on the surface can be a very shallow reflection of the place as a whole.
During my few days in country, I met some of the nicest, most intelligent people I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with. North Koreans, born and raised. They would talk to me about the US’s foreign policies, about Vietnam’s peculiar brand of communism, and about many other things, but they would never talk about their own country. Except to say how great their Dear & Great Leaders were, or to proclaim how they wanted for nothing in North Korea. Which, well. Obviously. It made for a perplexing read on things. Lines were blurred from the start. I would see the same people over and over again. The man in the park was also the man in the museum. That family over there was having a picnic in the woods the day before. Maybe. I think. I don’t know. In a nation where every piece of reality seems fabricated, where is the final line drawn?
So that’s what I tried to show in the photographs I took. An unreal reality. A constant fog over the eyes. Blurred edges. Shadowy figures. A constant kind of questioning. But even now, so far removed from it, I have no idea what I really saw.
Posted on February 19, 2014
Posted on February 18, 2014
I love forgetting about things. I end up shooting a lot of film on my travels, then putting the spent rolls in strange places, losing them for weeks, months, and years at a time. So it’s always an adventure when I find them and have them developed. My most recent finds are from the middle of last year, while I was traveling in China, North Korea, and Myanmar. The above image is from Chaungtha Beach, about five hours from Yangon, in Myanmar. While walking along the sand one day, I came across a group of nuns collecting shells and enjoying the afternoon sun close to a nearby temple. Simple. Peaceful. And a nice thing to find lying around, waiting to be discovered.
Posted on February 10, 2014
It’s been a great, busy start to the New Year. I’m just back from a short vacation with friends, and currently in Bangkok working on a few stories and hopefully meeting a potential new fixer for future trips. I have a bag full of film that needs processing, and I may even find my way to a record store or two while in town. Who knows.
The above image is from the top of the W Hotel in Kowloon, Hong Kong, where I was just a few months back working on a large story with a very large US company. We were all taking an afternoon break on the roof deck, and someone put their hand on the glass wall overlooking the epic cityscape below. I really like the image. It’s simple and graphic, with just enough strangeness.
Over my short vacation with friends, I updated my main website, Aaron Joel Santos Photography. All of the galleries are side scrolling now, which is something I’ve always loved. I think it gives more context to the images. I’ve also just generally updated all the sections. So take a minute, or five, and have a look.
Posted on January 31, 2014
So I’ve decided to separate my wedding blog posts from the others. Not because they don’t compliment each other, but simply because I seem to be shooting enough weddings these days to merit a unique blog in their honor. And I’m not so sure that people coming here to see editorial, fashion, travel, and fine art work want see the weddings I shoot, and vice versa. More so on the vice versa. Though if you do care to continue seeing that kind of work, kindly make your way over to the new blog: And Then There Were Weddings. It will be updated regularly, and will feature shoots from around Southeast Asia. Hopefully good ones.
Posted on January 18, 2014
I finally found a lab to develop color 4×5 in Bangkok. So hopefully this will push me to shoot more of it. It’s been a slow intro into 2014 for the blog, but that should change soon enough. Lots of interesting things afoot. A few exciting new projects in the works, and hopefully some revisiting of old stories left alone for way too long. For now, here are two recent images for a fashion campaign for Sula Clothing’s SS2014 line.
Posted on December 30, 2013
Just a few test images from a recent fashion shoot in Hanoi, Vietnam. I’ll finish up the job sometime in January, after the new year and a few other jobs in Hoi An and Bangkok. For now though, I’m enjoying the soft lines, warm tones, and inherent faults in the film I’m using. So Yeah. Happy New Year to everyone. May your nights be filled with wine and roses and drunken toasts.