Patrick Bresnahan is a film photographer based in Korea who has taken brilliant analogue photos over the years. In this exclusive interview with Bresnahan, he talks about his experiences in a foreign land.
Please introduce yourself to Lomography community.
Hello, my name is Patrick Bresnahan. I live, work, and study in South Korea but I’m originally from the United States. I’ve been passionate about film photography since 2011, so roughly three years. I first got interested in analogue photography when I found my friend’s Holga sitting on his shelf. I went out and bought one…been hooked ever since.
How is it like to live in Korea as a foreigner, and to develop your career as a photographer? Were there any cultural / language barriers? How did you overcome them, if any?
Living in Korea has been really fun. I’ve been here for about five years now. It’s definitely challenging, but that’s what makes it so great. Living in the same town, doing the same stuff, can get stale and mundane. Traveling, learning new languages, experiencing new cultures, and meeting new people makes life exciting. In fact, life in Korea is starting to get a bit too predictable. I plan to move on elsewhere within a year or two.
I think living abroad has helped develop myself as a photographer. Everything around me – the people, the sights and sounds, the markets, the signs, the scenery, it was and continues to be new. Since it’s new and interesting, I desire to capture it on film. Film that I can keep forever, that I can take home with me whenever it’s time to go. Being a foreigner here, my eyes pick up on things that Koreans may find commonplace or uninteresting. For example, I’ve seen Korean men ride their bikes while smoking. I haven’t seen that anywhere else, so I’ve decided to take their photos and share them online. Folks from the western world might find those images interesting, along with other snippets or insights of Korean life I’ve captured and shared.
Photography is a form of communication, of expression. It can capture time, moods, atmospheres unlike any other medium. I especially find double exposures and Holga photos to be very communicative and expressive of how I feel or of how a place speaks to me. This sort of language goes beyond cultures and language barriers.
I can’t say that I’ve learned Korean through photography. I’ve learned a different sort of language through photography, a visual language that everyone speaks. As for Korean, I have taken the time to learn it through being curious and being independent. I realized early on that I will never have a better opportunity to learn a language, considering the fact that I was immersed in Korean. It was spoken everywhere around me. I just had to be willing to accept it, soak it up, and ask many, many questions. Once you have a foundation, it gets easier. But curiosity and a sense of independence is a must when learning a new language, I feel.
How do feel about being analogue photographer? Is there any reason you stick with using Analogue instead of Digital?
There are soooo many reasons to shoot film over digital. I wrote an article – Film hasn't expired – on that a few years back. It still holds true to me today.
Also, I love being an analogue photographer! I wouldn’t have it any other way. I will shoot film forever. I love how old cameras feel in my hands. I love the odd looks people give me when they see my cameras. I love Polaroids. I love darkroom chemicals. I love looking at slides. I love all that is tangible. Everything about film photography is better than digital.
We saw your amazing infrared photographs and loved them very much! What do you like best about Infrared Photography and why?
Thanks for liking my IR work. Basically, back in 2011 when I started getting into film photography, I started learning about all the cool experimental things that can be done with film – cross processing, red scale, exposing sprocket holes, pinhole, wet plate, the list goes on and on. When I get passionate about something, I want to learn everything. Film photography was no exception. I soon discovered infrared photography and wanted to learn all about it. So, I saved up my money, bought a few rolls of black and white and “color infrared film”:, did a ton of research online, and started experimenting. I instantly fell in love with the unique look of IR film. At that time, the only medium format camera I had was a Holga, so the photos came out extra dreamy. Beyond just having a unique look, I love infrared photography because it captures something beyond the visible spectrum. Meaning, this film can reveal the world in a way that human eyes cannot see. That, in itself, is the most fascinating thing about infrared photography.
What is the philosophy behind of your infrared photography? Do you have any insider tips that you can share with the beginners?
Hmmm…tips about IR? I know part of the lomo philosophy says don’t think, just shoot. Most of the time, I’d agree with that. However, you might want to put a bit more thought and effort into shooting infrared film. It’s rare and expensive stuff, so I’m sure you’ll want pleasing results. I think the first bit of advice I’d give is to have a plan, know ahead of time what you want to capture. If you just higgledy-piggledy load up some IR film and head out, you might be alright but you might not. If you’re shooting b&w IR, definitely use a tripod. I even used one with all of my Holga black and white IR photos. The filter required when shooting black and white IR is really, really dark. So, even in bright sunshine your exposure time is nearly a full second, making a tripod essential. Other than that, just have fun and get experimental! Also, don’t just take pictures of trees hahah. I know trees look super cool in IR, but we want to see portraits and landscapes and double exposures and all sorts of other good stuff too.
Where do draw inspiration from?
My inspiration come from my surroundings. If I’m up in Seoul, I’ll shoot street photos. If I’m out in the countryside, I’ll shoot landscapes. If I’m with family or friends, I’ll take portraits. I do research about techniques, but I honestly don’t do much research into other photographers. I want my photos to be my vision, not necessarily someone else’s.
Have you had any Lomographic Experience yet? How were they?
I haven’t met too many other lomo heads. At first, I just shared my analogue photos on Facebook. Eventually, after people started showing that they liked what I was doing with photography, I decided to start up a blog and share with a larger audience. I could have shared my photos on the lomo community, but I felt that was kind of like preaching to the choir, you know? I wanted to share analogue photography with the world, not just the analogue community. The support I’ve received has been tremendous, from both people who know nothing of photography, to the die hard digital photographer. I hope to be able to share with the world that analogue photography definitely deserves its place, that it is and should always be an alternative, arguably a better alternative to digital.
have you had the chance to shoot with the LomoChrome Purple yet?
Nope, I haven’t had the chance to shoot LomoChrome Purple just yet. I definitely would love to give it a go, since I’m all about experimenting and getting unique photos. I haven’t thought much about what I’d shoot, although I know I would try some double exposure portraits. Also, I haven’t seen any lomo chrome purple pinhole photos, so I’d probably try that out too!
Thanks so much for learning a bit more about me and my analog photography. I’m pleased to be able to share my work and words with you all!!
Thank you so much for the interview and your sincere answers Patrick! We are in love with your breathtaking photos and endless passion in analogue photography! Lomo on!
See more of Patrick Bresnahan’s incredible images on his blog pj brez photography!