Channeling Emotions in Film Photography with Rala Choi


With any creative practice, conveying emotion is an important aspect of the work. Looking at Rala Choi’s photography, we instantly felt the emotions he wanted to get across through his photos. Even viewed on the small screen of a phone, his photography somehow pierces through spectacularly and makes us ponder about themes of love and loss. His work is at times reminiscent of impressionist paintings of the late 19th century, and is also influenced heavily by a mixture of Korean and French artists, as well as classical music.

When it comes to music, Rala has also taken photos of some of Korea’s upcoming and biggest musicians such as Zion.T, Taeyeon, Zico, Younha, and Big Naughty. Today we get the chance to talk to Rala and ask him about some of his work and how he is able to convey his emotions so effectively through his photography.

photos by @ralachoi

Hi Rala, welcome to Lomography Magazine. Can you introduce yourself and tell us about how you started your journey in film photography?

My photography experimentation began after I enlisted in the military in my early 20s. I was part of the coast guard where I would take photos to report accidents and other general stuff. I then spent a few years making commercial and commission-based work with a digital camera, but this never felt quite right. The support of musicians and friends allowed me to immerse myself in more self-directed artworks and I started to use a film camera.

I met other photographers who mainly used film cameras and they would discuss with each other the skills of using and handling these analogue cameras. At that time I could not relate because I had no knowledge of film cameras so this made me want to venture into the world of analogue cameras. I eventually fell in love with film photography since it allows me to stick to my original concept and idea. For me, as a photographer who plans a specific concept or an idea, digital cameras make it difficult to stick to my original idea since you can immediately see the result and if you don't like the outcome, you shoot again.

What gear do you usually use and what is your go-to set up

My main gear is the Nikon FM2 with a 50 mm f1.4 lens. I mostly use natural lighting and no accessories. I like simple compositions of characters and one color background. I have also tried using Lomo films and cameras such as the Lomo LC-A+, Diana F+, Horizon Perfekt, and LomoKino during a trip to Europe in 2016. I really liked the unique sensibility and sentiment.

Photos taken with lomography Products during a European Trip in 2016

I wanted to ask about your "lovers" series. Can you tell us about the concept and what was going on through your mind when you were making these photos?

I am always interested in human feelings. I express my personal experience of relationships. My favorite of the Lovers series is 2021 and 2022 because I really think the outcome is perfectly what I wanted. This couple does not just depend on each other for "Love. It is the “memory” of one of these two after enough time has passed to recall that time. It is my early twenties personal experience.

A lot of your work revolves around introspection and your own feelings. How do you think you're able to convey your own emotions so well through your photography?

I love your question. I'm glad you see through my work well. I usually draw and make notes of my emotions in daily life. It is not fantasy or imagination, it is my emotions and feelings in real life that I think people sympathize with as we are human beings. I just thought it was best to boldly exclude miscellaneous things and simply express the core that I wanted to show in pictures.

Lovers 2021, Lovers 2022 by @ralachoi

Has there ever been a time you weren't able to convey what you felt through photography?

It was like that in the past and it is like that now. There are far more emotions that cannot be conveyed through photography than can be expressed.

Amongst all your works so far, which one is your favorite or has the most meaning and why?

This work is a photo that satisfies both of the questions. Until this photo, I had only used negative film, and this photo is the first positive film among my work photos. At that time, I personally needed a change, and this was the reason I started using positive film

photos by @ralachoi

Is there a photo by another photographer that you wish you could've taken?

This photo by Sarah Moon called Transcendence of Fashion is one of my biggest inspirations.

Can you share any words of wisdom to the rest of the Lomography Community?

Keep constantly looking into yourself and your own taste.

photos by @ralachoi

We thank Rala Choi for sharing his thoughts and his photography. You can check out more of his work on his Instagram and website. What emotions do you like conveying through your photography? Comment and share with us down below.

written by rocket_fries0036 on 2023-03-25 #culture #people #interview #emotions #love #lovers #south-korea #conceptual-photography #rala-choi

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