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The mission to put life into Korea’s wedding snaps

A wedding shot from Romin Lee Johnson’s portfolio. (Romin Lee Johnson)
A wedding shot from Romin Lee Johnson’s portfolio. (Romin Lee Johnson)
Romin Lee Johnson has seen Korea’s wedding photography industry, and he doesn’t like it one bit.

He says wedding photos shouldn’t be about staged poses and costume changes for hours on end, all happening days away from the ceremony.

Now Johnson, who came with his family in December and has been shooting professionally for six years, is on a mission to get Koreans taking photos to show the wedding day itself.

“I’ve come across countless horror stories ― mostly from Western men married to Korean women ― about the ‘pre-wedding shoot,’” he says.

“They are subjected to an average of 8-10 hours of non-stop studio photography before the wedding day itself, as well as multiple wardrobe changes and commands for plastic smiles.”

He points out that Korea is one of the last countries in Asia to turn away from set-pieces at predefined locations and toward the documentary approach.

“The single biggest problem with it is that it is phony. It’s ironic, considering Koreans tend to have very strong and real emotions, and have quite a deep love for story and narrative.”

The first step in his quest is Shift/Tilt, a workshop on Oct. 1-2 to teach photographers some new tricks. The workshop lasts two days, including shoots that will cover the different stages of a wedding.

He has enlisted photographer Fer Juaristi to co-present the two-day event and lead the first day of the workshop.

“Fer is generally regarded as the best wedding photographer in Mexico,” explains Johnson. “He is a destination photographer, and is in very high demand as both a photographer and workshop leader on the international stage.”

Models and a hotel have been hired for the shoots, and the workshop will also feature presentations and cover post production.

Participants will be asked to bring 15-20 of their photos for a session of constructive criticism.

Johnson concedes that the workshop is expensive, but says serious photographers will be used to parting with such sums.

“Most professional camera lenses begin at $1000,” he points out, adding that the number of participants will be limited to 10.

For more information on Shift/Tilt visit

By Paul Kerry (
Korea Herald daum