Written and photographed by Marco Clarkson
The dictionary defines charm as “the power or quality of giving delight or arousing admiration.” I’m fairly comfortable with using this word to describe the city of Gwangju. I had 20 hours to spend in Gwangju before moving on again. I had had a fairly eventful and physically strenuous day by the time this image was created. Allow me a moment to explain how I arrived at the creation of this image.
I journeyed from Seoul to Gwangju at the crack of dawn and was greeted with a city that operated at a pace I’d almost forgotten. I had a great brunch at a place with no crowd in sight. Catching up pleasantly with a friend was easily achieved at which point I was then shown around. I got a good feel for my surroundings when I had an opportunity to walk around for a few hours on my own. Within those few hours, I was able to explore a traditional market, stumble upon a temple, and patiently wait for a monk to exit and walk into a frame I’d prepositioned myself in front of – it was a success.
Dinner arrangements involved chicken and beer in a park, which I was eagerly enthusiastic about. It was Buddha’s Birthday, which meant there were lanterns everywhere. I have a very childish curiosity for lanterns as they remind me of Christmas in my house when I was growing up. I loved the colors. Finally, no interference from other artificial light sources and great leading lines, too. I thought this was the perfect scene to make something because of the way the shadows, lanterns, and bench were engaged in something of a dance together. I once again waited for a human element to add a bit of mystery to the image. It would have been a bit dull or lifeless without it. It came together nicely, and I’m glad I was patient.