The Long Journey

Johan Chomet is a French photographer born in Paris. In 2013, he set out on The Long Journey, a series of travels that led him overland through Europe, Russia, Mongolia, China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and Nepal. Most recently, Johan’s journey took him to Seoul, South Korea, where he captured a series of images that present his perspective of the city. Johan tells Neocha more about his work and his travels below.


Johan Chomet是来自法国巴黎的摄影师。2013年,他上了《The Long Journey》,进行了一场跨越欧洲、俄罗斯、蒙古、中国、日本、越南、泰国、缅甸和尼泊尔的漫长旅程。最近,Johan又去了韩国的首尔,在那里,他拍摄了许多照片,记录下他眼中的这座城市。Johan跟Neocha分享了许多关于他的作品与旅行的故事。

Neocha: What’s your process for planning your travels?

Johan: I never have a plan or route. I don’t try to organize anything in advance. I usually get transportation and visa sorted to my first destination and then take it from there. It gives me a lot more freedom as I don’t have to be somewhere at any specific time and can change my plans at the last minute if I feel like it. I also try not to have any time constraints.

Traveling overland is a totally different experience. You have to endure every kilometer of your trip, you have to find your way, and you have to deal with uneasy, sometimes unpleasant, situations. But you also get to live and share so much more. You see the landscapes changing and get to meet people along the way. To me, travel means freedom. It means adventures, meeting people, seeing things from a different perspective, and obviously photography! Travel and photography can hardly be separated for me.


Neocha: 你是怎样计划你的旅行的?

Johan: 我从来不会做计划或设计路线,我不喜欢提前计划好任何事情。我一般只会先把第一个目的地的交通和签证办好,然后就出发。这样我可以有更多的自由,因为我不需要在特定的时间到达某个特定的地方,也可以随时改变计划。我也尽量不给自己时间上的限制。

横越大陆的旅游是完全不同的体验。你不得不忍受旅行时每一公里的路途,你必须找到方向,你要处理一些不安,甚至令人不愉快的情况。但你也能够有丰富的生活体验,可以分享更多。你可以看到沿途风景的变化,一路认识新的朋友。对我来说,旅行意味着自由、冒险和结交朋友,从不同的角度来看待事物,当然还有摄影!对我来说,旅行和摄影是密不可分的。

Neocha: How did your trip to Seoul come about?

Johan: I really had no idea about what to expect when I decided to go to Seoul. I had been in Japan for a few months and my visa was expiring, meaning that I had to leave the country for a while. South Korea had always been on my list, and I was really looking forward to seeing it for myself, as for some reason I never got to see many images of the country. When I got to Seoul, it took me about 24 hours and a lot of walking around the city to take my first photo. Things were a lot less accessible and obvious than in Japan, and it felt like I had to soak it all in before I could start taking any photographs.


Neocha: 为什么会想要去首尔?

Johan: 我一开始决定去首尔的时候,我真的没有带着什么特别的期望。当时我已经在日本呆了几个月,签证快要过期,所以我要离开日本一会儿。韩国一直是我想要去的国家之一,我也很期待去这个国家,但不知道为什么,我一直很少机会看到关于这个国家的图片。刚到首尔的时候,我在这座城市里逛了很久,过了快24小时才拍下第一张照片。比起日本,这里的一切更难以接触,更隐晦,感觉就像我必须要深入其中,才能拍到想要的照片。

Neocha: What were some of your first impressions of the city?

Johan: Seoul had been very confusing for me at first, as I could see very little related to its past and history, and what I could see did not always feel coherent. Architecture in many parts of the city made me feel like I was in some sort of communist country with all these identical concrete buildings shaping the landscape, and just a few kilometers away you’d find yourself walking on huge avenues filled with hundreds of high-end shops, and you’d be reminded that you were in a country that’s embraced capitalism like no other.

Another thing that struck me was the overabundance of churches everywhere. Every direction you look, you’d see them – red neon crosses that have invaded Seoul’s skyline. Talking about neon, it’s something I’ve been shooting a lot of lately. I love the light and the atmosphere that it creates. Neon definitely feels a little bit retro, but at the same time, it keeps us fantasizing about these futuristic vertical metropolises.


Neocha: 你对这座城市的第一印象是什么?

Johan: 一开始,首尔让我感到很困惑,我很难看到这座城市与其过去和历史的关联,我所看到的事物也总是感觉不是很一致。很多地方的建筑让我感觉这是一个共产主义国家,一模一样的凝土建筑物,组成了这座城市的景观,然后仅几公里之外,就是宽阔的商业大道,充满数以百计间高端商店,这时你才会意识到,这也是个不折不扣的资本主义国家。

另一件我最难忘的事是,这里的教堂无处不在。不论在哪里,你都能看到那些红色的霓虹灯十字架,占据着首尔的城市天际线。说到霓虹灯,这是我最近很喜欢拍摄的东西。我很喜欢这种灯光,以及它所创造的氛围。霓虹灯确实有点复古的味道,但同时又会令人幻想到未来的垂直化大都市。

Neocha: As a film photographer, what are your thoughts on the film versus digital debate?

Johan: There shouldn’t be any final conclusion about film or digital – they both have their pros and cons. Digital is easy to use, convenient, accessible to everyone, and gives flawless results. Unlike film, the processing is instantaneous, costless, and allows for endless post-processing modification. As always, industries deliver what consumers are asking for.

Film is expensive and frustrating. There’s no insane post-processing to make dull images look great in the end. You can’t take hundreds of photos in a day, hoping to have a good one in the end or take the same photo over and over again until it looks good on-screen. You have to get it right the first time, and this is without a doubt the best way to learn. Shooting mechanical cameras and film gives me the feeling that I’m part of the process, that I’m in control, and that I’m actually making the photo. Working with film, I realized that I was spending a lot more time on framing and working on composition, and more importantly, I would not rely solely on the camera for the result. If your photos are not good enough, you can’t blame the autofocus or justify it by the fact that you didn’t have the money for that ISO 204800 camera. If your photos aren’t good, it’s simply because you’re not a good photographer. Technology in photography doesn’t make things better. It just makes things more convenient.


Neocha: 作为一名用胶片拍摄的摄影师,你对于胶片摄影与数码摄影之间的争论有什么看法?

Johan: 对于胶片摄影与数码摄影之间的争论,应该永远也不会有最后结论,这两者都有各自的优点和弊处。数码摄影更容易、更方便,所有人都可以使用,拍出来的照片也很不错。与胶片摄影不同,数码摄影即时显像,不需要成本,也可以有无休止的后期修改。每个行业都会努力提供消费者所需要的产品,这一点向来如此。

而胶片摄影的成本更高,也往往容易令人沮丧,你不可以疯狂地进行后期处理,将一张原本平庸的照片变成一幅棒极了的照片;你也不能一天拍好几百张照片,然后指望其中会有一张好照片;或是一遍又一遍地拍同一张照片,直到在你屏幕上的照片看起来不错。你必须在第一次按快门就拍好,所以这无疑是学习摄影的最佳途径。用机械胶片相机和胶片拍摄,让我感觉自己成为了这个创作过程的一部分,我有控制权,我感觉这才是真正地在创作一张照片。用胶片拍摄时,我发现自己会花更多时间思考构图,更重要的是,我不会全然依赖相机。如果你的照片不够好,你不能说是自动对焦的问题,也没有藉口说是因为你没有足够的钱,买一台ISO 204800的相机。如果你的照片不够好,只是因为你不是一个好的摄影师。在摄影方面,科技不会让照片拍得更好。它只会让拍照变得更方便。

Neocha: How would you summarize your approach to photography, and what are some recurring themes in your work?

Johan: I used to take a lot of photos of people in busy places, mostly cities, of people in motion, people that would catch my attention. I’ve never tried to make any specific statement with my photos. I just want my photographs to be a reflection of a time and place. They’re just snapshots. I usually go out walking with a camera in my hand and take photos of the things that I react to. I don’t believe photography should be too cerebral, and I try not to overthink my shots. I like spontaneous things.

As I mentioned, film photography changed my approach a little. It forced me to take my time. It helped me to be more patient, and so I started to photograph things differently – more still images, pictures with no people, empty spaces. I also started paying more attention to colors and geometry. When I’m traveling, things are also a bit different. I try to build a series rather than taking a bunch of candid shots without any specific theme.


Neocha: 你如何描述自己的摄影方式,你的作品中的常见主题有哪些?

Johan: 我曾经拍过很多人们在繁忙地方的照片,大多是在城市,拍摄一些行动中的人们,拍摄那些会引起我注意的人。我从来没有试图在我的照片中表达某种特定的态度。我只想通过自己的照片记录某个时刻和地方……它们只是一张张快照。我通常拿着相机就出门散步,看到想拍的事物就拍下来。我认为摄影的时候不需要思考太多的事情,我在拍摄时尽量不去考虑太多。我喜欢自然而然的东西。

正如我前面所说,胶片摄影也影响了我的摄影方法。它让我在拍摄时放慢速度、更有耐心,也因为这样,我开始拍摄不同的对象,更多的是静止的图像,没有人,空荡的场所。我也开始更多地关注颜色和几何形状。当我去旅行时,拍摄的方法也会有点不同。我会试着创作一个系列,而不是没有任何特定的主题,直接拍一堆照片。

Neocha: Are there any particular themes or lasting impressions from your series in Seoul?

Johan: Culturally, It feels like there’s this huge gap with massive differences of interests and lifestyle between generations. South Korea, and Seoul probably even more, has been changing so much and in such a short period of time. Because so many younger generations of South Koreans are able to travel and study abroad, I guess many came back with a different idea of what they wanted for their country and for their lives. South Korea has been heavily impacted by Western culture, but it feels like its people managed to adapt and blend it to their own culture, making it theirs. I definitely want to go back to South Korea and focus more on the youth next time.


Neocha:这一次在首尔摄影的作品中,有没有什么特别的主题或比较深的印象?

Johan:从文化上来说,我觉得韩国不同世代的人们之间在兴趣和生活方式方面有很大的差异。在韩国,尤其是首尔,在很短的时间内,这里发生了翻天覆地的变化。很多年轻一代的韩国人出国旅游和留学,我想,他们中很多人回来后对于自己的国家和生活都会有了不同的想法。韩国受到很多西方文化的影响,但似乎韩国人们将这种影响成功融入到他们自己的文化中,将其变成韩国的特色文化。我还想再去一次韩国,下一次会把目光更多地放在年轻人身上。

Neocha: What is your personal philosophy towards photography? What does photography mean to you?

Johan: To me, photography is about accurately remembering and capturing real life for future generations. Photographers are witnesses of time, documenting life. Some photographers are talented enough to add emotions and beauty to their images, to get reactions out of their viewers. I hope that people can see my photographs in 30, 40, 50 years in a different context. Who knows what will have become of photography and the world in general by then.

My relation to photography is very personal – it’s almost a kind of therapy for me. Walking with a camera in my hands is one of the rare moments when I manage to completely focus my mind on what I’m doing. It forces me to be in the moment, and it stimulates me. It keeps me curious and gives me the motivation to make new projects, or even just to simply go outside and do something.


Neocha: 关于摄影,你的个人理念是什么?摄影对你来说意味着什么?

Johan: 对我来说,摄影是要准确地记录和捕捉当下的现实生活,留给未来的人们看。摄影师是时间的证人,生活的记录者。一些才华横溢的摄影师能把情感和美融入到他们的照片中,引起观众的情感共鸣。我希望在30、40或50年后,不同时代的人们可以看到我的照片。谁知道到时候,摄影和世界会变成怎么样呢?

对我来说,摄影是挺个人的事情,几乎可以说是一种治疗。拿着相机散步是很弥足珍贵的时刻,因为我可以完全专注其中。它迫使我融入那一时刻,刺激着我。让我保持好奇,给我动力去进行新的项目,甚至只是简单地到外面去,做点什么。

Websitejohanchomet.com
Instagram@johan_chomet
VSCO~/thelongjourney

 

Contributor: George Zhi Zhao


网站johanchomet.com
Instagram@johan_chomet
VSCO~/thelongjourney

 

供稿人: George Zhi Zhao