Two months ago I began a new series of photographs of musicians when I photographed Jazzmin and Nahrae as a violinist and a cellist at Jebu Island off the west coast of Korea. I have been wanting to continue this series for a while and decided that Korean traditional instruments would be my next addition. Through a friend of my wife’s, I got in touch with Kim Young Jae. Mr. Kim has been playing Korean traditional instruments (including geomungo and haegeum) for just over 50 years, and has been a professor of Korean traditional music for 40 years. I honestly couldn’t believe my ears when he responded with a resounding “yes” to my request to photograph him.
My original idea revolved around another composite and making a larger than life image of him (this one is still in the works), but he preferred to stay in his own performance hall. Understanding, of course, that he was giving up his time to allow me to make the photographs, I made my way to the location at the time and date he suggested. I had not seen the place and had no idea how this was going to end up. I took my D800 and 85mm lens, as I guessed I would still be doing the composite work later and didn’t want any distortion at all. I had a couple of lights in my bag, my Westcott Apollo Orb and a couple of Westcott Medium Apollos.
When I arrived and saw the gorgeous traditional stage setup, I immediately realigned my goals for the shoot. Mr. Kim offered me a cup of tea before we began, and as we chatted and got to know each other I let my imagination run wild and came up with this frame. I decided to keep with the panoramic series I had been working on, and the dramatic feel of the other images. So I used my orb as the key light coming in from camera right, feathered to just skim the instrument and light his face. Then I added a Medium Apollo to rear camera right as a separation light. This second light was fairly low power, but give his hanbok some more light around the edge. Below is the final image and the lighting diagram.