Patience, or How to Catch a Monk

When we think about patience in photography, possibly the first thing that comes to mind is landscape photography; a lone photographer waiting hours for the perfect light. With digital photography, patience has been taken out of the process almost entirely, and more often than not a quick snap is all that is made of a scene. And often times this is enough, but when we are trying to make a longer lasting piece of art rather than a memory, patience often comes into play. The old saying is that patience is a virtue, as the subject of the image below will be able to tell you at length. All good things come to those who wait. And I waited.

Of all the temples here in Seoul, Gisangsa is one of my favourites, and spending time there when the light it right is a treat. Seeing the almost symmetrical nature of this temple building, I instantly saw my frame. Bringing the camera to my eye, I made a quick test. Too much on the top and bottom made me switch to 16:9 crop so I would get a longer, more cinematic frame. The Fujifilm x-t1’s viewfinder automatically applies the crop. It’s a great feature that allows you to see exactly what you will get in situations like this.

That was the simple part. But, like temples all over Korea this one was heavily touristed. I needed an interesting subject to make the photo stand out. A crowd of people taking photos wasn’t going to do that. And so I waited. About 20 minutes later, the orange-robed head monk began his rounds of the temple, preparing it for the evening meditation. I watched him opening each of the doors and checking that it was latched correctly, and ducking in between visitors to the temple as he made sure everything was in order. Those who would join the meditation went inside, and others moved aside as the time drew closer. After one last round, the monk climbed the stairs and I knew I had my frame.

Nothing technical was the key to this photograph. It could have been made with a phone camera. The key here was knowing there was a photograph to be made and waiting it out.

Monk - Seoul Photographer