Friday, January 3, 2014

John Steele -- The Man with Heart and Soul

I'm excited to begin 2014 by featuring the photographer John Steele.  He is from Virginia in the United States, and he currently resides in Seoul with his four year old Boston Terrier, Holly.  Holly happens to be his best model.  The man who cares for dogs is a good man.  He is a man who has heart and soul.

Best Assistant Ever - Anbandeok, Korea
Best Assistant Ever
© John Steele

John Steele has that certain something that many other photographers lack.  

Sure, the others are technically competent when processing their photographs, and they serve up photographs that look...competent.  Yet, the competent images have all the enthusiasm and fervor of those fast food french fries that have been sitting too long under the lights at the franchise hamburger place.  And those same fries can be found in every fast food joint all around the globe regardless the brand preferred.

It is important to note that John is technically competent behind the camera and in the dry darkroom, but he brings something special to the table with his photographic work:  emotion.  

Temple with a View
Temple with a View
© John Steele

An artist who believes in a subject, who relates to a subject, who is moved by the subject, can express emotions felt and seen.  In an image, there might be details, or there might not be.  It might portray hope, or it might not.  The emotions can be bright, or the emotions can be dark.  There can be warmth, or there can be a chilling coldness in the heart.  It is the connection an artist has with the subject that allows another viewer to experience the feelings also.  John Steele is not afraid to express his feelings and emotions for other people to see and feel. 

State of Bliss - Gosam Reservoir, Anseong Korea (고삼저수지)
State of Bliss
© John Steele

John became interested in photography around 1999-2000.  Prior to departing for South Korea, he bought a Canon ELPH point and shoot camera.  It was just four years ago after a special friend gave him a Nikon D40 that he began to further explore and learn more about the art of photography.  He studies about light and composition every day, and he will review and analyze older images to learn how to improve the composition.

I made it a point to tell John that his photographs present many emotions that resonate well.  I will share how he responded to me by using his own words:

"Thank you for noticing that in my work, and I couldn’t agree more that emotion is a key aspect in art. This might sound funny but going for long walks without my camera and just observing what is going on has helped me a lot. Even before I was a photographer, I was into going for long walks, but I was in my own little world at that time. Since I have studied and practiced the art, I have become more aware of my surroundings. When I go for walks without my camera and I miss a moment, I don’t regret it. It helps me by being able to predict and be more prepared in future situations. In addition, when I am cameraless, I am constantly thinking about the technical side as well – what focal length would work here, what shutter speed, aperture, ISO would best work in this situation. From time to time we get photographer’s block, and for me it’s best to put the camera aside and observe."

After a shoot, John uploads the photographs into Lightroom.  His detailed workflow organization allows him to select those images that inspire him at that specific time.  Wisely, he then will leave the images in his collections only to revisit them at a later time, even months later, before processing them.  The time away allows him to look at the work differently, and by looking at the work at a different time he has been able " find some real diamonds in the rough..." 

After the Rain - Mt. Inwang, Seoul
After the Rain
© John Steele

Currently, John is a regular contributor to PIK (Photographers in Korea).  Elsewhere, recent publications include Yearning for Yangsuri, which was published in the November 2013 edition of Groove Magazine as well as Romantic Sunsets, which was published in the December 2013 edition of SEOUL Magazine. 

He recently participated in an exhibition and competition hosted by Trazy, located in Seoul, and he earned a second place award for his entry.

To see more of his photographic art, and to contact the artist, visit his sites listed below:

1)  To purchase prints, take a look at his SmugMug gallery:  John Steele Photo

2)  His website:  John Steele Photo

3)  For those who Facebook, take a look at his page that is usually updated daily:  John Steele Photo

Just a reminder:  all the images posted in this article about the photographer John Steele are © John Steele.