The Korea Times
Visual sociologist teaches photography
Expat professor offers weekly class
Photographer Michael Hurt is offering a four-part weekly class on photography starting this Sunday.
After a first lesson on the fundamentals, lessons 2 and 3 emphasize strobe theory and using a fill flash, the not-so-secret weapon behind Hurt’s distinctive photographic style that is hard to master.
For the final class, they hit the streets for practical experience in bringing together ambient and portable lighting with “impromptu models.”
A research professor at the University of Seoul, Hurt is known for his fashion street photography, a craft he has been honing for years while also engaging in field research. He contributes his photography with heavy analysis to The Korea Times.
“I now have a name for this style — I call it hypermodern style,” Hurt told The Korea Times.
“All these styles develop with shooting what you need to do to get the best pictures in a situation.”
Hurt, who is currently researching as a visual sociologist, studies “pae-pi” (fashion people) in their natural environment, the street.
“These paepi kids, my argument is they are kind of the marker of hypermodernity,” he explained.
Hypermodernity refers to an object being replaced by the attributes of an object.
“Orange soda, what happens when we get to the point where nobody has tasted an orange?” he also offered. “What’s going to happen is the definition of what’s an orange is going to shift. Pretty soon you’ll be living up here and there’ll be no originals anymore.”
He sees a similar thing happening with Korean street fashion.
“The kids are very comfortable remixing, redefining, breaking down, removing the originals and the referents from the original,” he said.
“Koreans are doing totally new things, remixing retro fashions with new fashions, mixing Western dress codes with Eastern tradition, the whole hanbok thing, remixing male and female, having those codes combined, smashed, ripped apart. So they’re doing lots of unusual things that actually even more liberal or open-minded or progressive cultures, supposedly, aren’t doing.”
His photographic style is characterized by heavy use of portable lighting, low angles, physical exaggeration and bright colors.
“I had to develop an aesthetic that reflects their status as hyperreal,” he said. “So my photo style is a hypermodern style that matches what they’re doing.”
Hurt’s photographic process, which he introduces through his lessons, is intensive on portable lighting. He typically works with an assistant or two who can manage people and adjust the strobes.
“I wanted to set it up so I could shoot my particular kind of way and basically make my own runway by increasing efficiency,” he said.
“So I have basically a little line of people waiting to be shot — all I’m doing is shooting nonstop for 30 minutes at a time.”
Hurt says this class is for people who want to shoot street photography and step up their game by fully utilizing fill flashes and strobes. It costs 275,000 won to participate, but discounts are available.
The first session starts Sunday at noon at Fat Cat Neighborhood Bistro in Haebangchon in Seoul. But the other three lessons are outside or at a studio. Visit fb.com/photoseoul for more information and to register.