HanType

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In Conversation: Photographer, Alex Finch

So who is Alex Finch? From Garosugil to Seoul Fashion Week, Alex shoots and curates the trendiest looks in Korea. I have talked about the rise of the use of Hangul in another post but I think that Korean fashion and even Korean cosmetics have begun to feel the effects of the Hallyu wave. Alex is at the forefront of showcasing what Korean fashion entails and being a foreigner himself, it has allowed fellow non-Koreans to familiarize themselves with Korean fashion in a more approachable way. Something that could potentially have not been possible with a Korean photographer.

Alex and I touch on Korean trends, culture shock, Creative Folks, and learning Hangul (this is a Hangul site afterall). Importantly, Alex delivers but not in an obnoxious EatYourKimchi type of way and gives us honest documentation of Korean street fashion.

I understand you come from the UK so how did you end up in Korea? 

I do indeed hail from the UK. I’ve been here seven years now and I originally wanted to get out of my comfort bubble and try to deal with my crippling shyness. In the end, I ended up enjoying it so much here and meeting so many great people that I decided to stay.

Crippling shyness? Do you think being a photographer and a foreigner allowed you to overcome that because being a photographer means asking that somewhat personal question, “Can I take your picture?” and conversing with strangers. Has those two roles helped you in that sense?

Being a foreigner means that people aren’t expecting me to speak Korean, and when I do, it’s a little jarring. As for being a photographer, that doesn’t help me to be more confident haha

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Ah well since I run a Hangul site and I know you’re pretty good at Korean, I have to ask the obligatory question: what was the learning process like? 

My Korean is still quite lacking, but other than a few lessons last year (which I had to give up because of my schedule), I’m self taught. I learned the Hangul characters by myself at university one weekend by sticking them all over my noticeboard and looking at them every time I went in and out of the room. The grammar can be difficult to get your head around, but to be honest, I don’t think it is that difficult to become intermediate level in if you’re willing to devote the time and energy to it. Also, using it daily is so important, which I actually find quite difficult with my job and everyone enjoying using me as English practice.

Do you have a favorite Korean word? or Korean slang word that you’ve picked up?

I don’t really have a favourite word, but I like that a lot of Korean adjectives sound like what they describe. Also, the word, ‘babo’ gets thrown around near me a lot and I like how it rolls off the tongue.

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Do you see any growing trends in the Korean fashion scene? 

At the moment, it’s floral prints. Casual trainers/sneakers are also hugely popular at the moment.

What was your correspondence with Irene Kim like?

Irene knows who I am, but I couldn’t get hold of her directly at the moment. I’ve never met her in a relaxed environment which is a shame because I’d love to actually chat with her a little more. Other Esteem models know me and I’m friendly with quite a few of them through my work and English tutoring that I do. I have some friends in the Kplus and DCM model agencies, too.

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You are the model for Creative Folks! How did that happen? How does it feel being on the opposite side of the lens? 

I honestly think that CF only approached me because I am British and that mirrors their brand haha I’m not much of a model, but I enjoy doing it immensely. It gives me an insight that I wouldn’t be able to get if I was shooting in the studio as a photographer. I really hope I can do more in the future for different brands. That said, I would like to work as a photographer for different brands, too, but that’s a whole different problem haha

Did you experience culture shock when you came to Korea that you are used to now? 

Absolutely. It was mostly the fact that there are buildings with different stores/bars/restaurants on each floor. We just don’t have that in the UK and it took a lot of getting used to.

Ah, right. It’s the most frustrating thing for me. It’s impossible for me to find the exact location of a place in Korea cause everything is so compact and hidden. 

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Finally, I want to ask: What does “Korean Fashion” mean to you? What does Korean fashion even look like?

I find a number of people claiming that Koreans merely tag along with trends and don’t come up with anything interesting of their own. I don’t believe this to be so. I think some of the youngsters here are both bold and incredibly smart when it comes to mixing and matching styles into an amalgamation that works for them. That’s where I feel the Koreans are strongest – taking something that’s trending and tinkering with it to work for them.

Funny, I feel like K-pop is the same way.

You can find Alex on:

His website

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