South Korea As You've Never Seen It Before

Photographer David Brandon Geeting takes us on a journey to South Korea with an exclusive look at his new book.

Photographer David Brandon Geeting is best known for work that makes you look twice: His thoroughly modern still lifes feature quotidian items like Q-tips, Pringles chips, and packs of gum cast against vibrant, patterned backgrounds.

His latest body of work, a series of landscapes taken around South Korea in places including Seoul, Jeju Island, and Mt. Bukhansan, took him outside the studio. "I started to ask myself what the difference is between things that are natural and unnatural," Geeting says, referring to working outside versus in the studio. "Korea is really excessive—there are a lot of things for sale, a lot of fake things—but the city is surrounded by nature. The lines are blurred."

Geeting's new book.


The new series, out now in the form of a self-published book, South Korean Nature Photography, investigates his interest between the pure and the manufactured. Some images are close-ups of tour buses or industrial areas that give the impression of urban settings, but are actually taken in nature, while others are of street scenes or shop windows in the city center. Reflecting on how his landscape photos relate to his studio practice, Geeting says: "It's just stuff. It's just the world."

Below, Geeting gives us a look inside his new book.


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"This was taken at the border of North and South Korea—there's tons of barbed wire there because security is high. Despite its connotations, I love the wild shapes the wires are making."

"This is in a botanical garden on Jeju Island. In the book, it's paired with the barbed wire image, because the visual similarities are so strong."

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"This was also taken at the border. I'm not sure what the ribbons are for—my guess is that they are some form of memorial, or an exaggerated I was here. The excessive amount of them is what I was drawn to; I knew the camera would flatten them, making the image seem more like a painting than a photograph."

"From my perspective, walking past this area in Seoul, everything seemed to fit together nicely—like a puzzle. Something about the situation felt sinister to me, regardless of her smile."

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"This was shot in an underground train station in Seoul. For the most part, the train stations there are like little malls, filled with stores selling anything you can think of. I thought the ties looked alive in this store window."

"This is a dude frying crabs and squid on the street in Myeong-dong, a huge shopping district in Seoul. What some might call a technical flaw—the flash hitting the out-of-focus heads in the front—is my favorite part of the image, and adds to the cramped feeling of walking around this crowded street fair."

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"This is on Jeju Island. It's a photo of a photo of the bridge I was standing on. The context is what makes this image important for me: the real sky, the fake sky, the real bridge, the fake bridge, etc."

"This is a bus next to a mountain somewhere on Jeju Island. There are tourist buses all over the place in Jeju. It's a popular vacation destination, even in the winter. There are palm trees blowing in the wind and an excess of indigenous citrus fruits."

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"This is in Gangnam, which is a hip area in Seoul. I have no idea what this image is advertising. I was drawn to the double layers of privacy: the hands and the blinds. I also like the idea of taking a voyeuristic image of a poster."

"This was taken on Mt. Bukhansan after climbing to one of the peaks. It was midday in the middle of a light snowstorm and I had just taken a break from climbing. It was a gorgeous moment for me, where the sun looked like the moon."



South Korean Nature Photography, $25, dbg.nyc. Geeting will have a book launch and signing at New York's Printed Matter on April 8 from 6-8 pm. Details at printedmatter.org.

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