Jung Rouk Oh

Evangelical Christian Academy, Colorado Springs

Honorable Mention

Anchell Scholarship for Documentary Photography

I believe that every single object on the earth has a message or its own story with its unique outward appearance. I consider these various messages as the ultimate reason to take pictures.

My interest in photography began from my curiosity in machines and about how the world operates, and my early years of childhood were full of questions. As I spent time on discovering how the world functions and observing the people around me, I began to take pictures at the age of ten. This interest in machines led me to experiment with the camera and its adjustments in order to make pictures look nice. My fascination with objects and materials was perfectly satisfied by taking pictures. Owning my first camera during middle school changed the way I these. An expensive camera for a middle schooler gave me a feeling of pride, but I wanted more, so I began experimenting with the perfect rule of third and open apertures. However, the pictures without real-meaning and depth soon challenged me to explore the reasons and subjects and why I photograph them.

During my middle school years, I took a photography class for an extracurricular activity. Since I had a basic knowledge on how the camera functions, it seemed easy at first. Nevertheless, the teacher initiated his classes by demonstrating the reasons for taking pictures, and explained that it was a means of communication. This was truly shocking to hear because I had never thought about this before. After viewing pictures as a delicate way of communicating, my approach changed 180 degrees.

While practicing new techniques of photograph, my mother (who loves to travel) supported me. My parents and I visited new places almost every weekend, and we went to many different exhibitions. I really enjoyed National Geographic, Life Magazine, and Reuters in terms of conveying the message to others, and their unique insights on people and nature provoked my thoughts.

After graduating from middle school in Korea, my parents decided to send me abroad. I thought I was prepared, but it was a “mega” culture shock. Living in a different country was quite different from just traveling; studying for these past four years in the U.S has given me a new perspective. I now see the world from both an Eastern and Western viewpoint through my lens. My favorite concept remains humanity. Through the viewfinder, I view more than just people. I see them in their place, time, and identity for the moment. Even if I take a picture of nature, I miss the human element. How can people be so abundant in the world and miniscule in the universe?

Photographic communication also leaves an empty space for the person viewing the picture to ponder. This idea stimulates my work. Again, I love taking pictures, and I look forward to continuing to develop my unique concepts as well as expanding my knowledge and artistic horizons.