Expats in Korea: Seoulcialites
Being an expat in Korea, we’re often pigeon-holed into 2 categories: Teacher or Military. There are so many people doing original and interesting things in Seoul! In this new series, I’d like to introduce you to some creative people I’ve been lucky to meet. They may have started their professional journeys as teachers (or even military), but have explored so much more in the land of morning calm: Korea.
Expat in Korea: Anuj Madan, Photographer
I met Anuj while on the set of a sci-fi movie produced by Jackie Chan in Busan. It’s called “Reset: Fatal Countdown”, and I’m not sure if it’s ever going to see the light of day. It was a long shoot from early in the morning until long past nightfall. We got to jump through explosions. I got to scream my head off. I also met Expat in Korea, Anuj Madan!
What originally brought you to Korea?
I came to Korea to get away from corporate life for a while (almost 8 years ago) and have a more balanced lifestyle with time to travel around Asia and to think about and work on personal projects. At first life was good as a University professor with plenty of vacation time and a flexible schedule. With all that extra time on my hands, I eventually satisfied my yearning for travel and socializing, and picked up photography as a hobby…and before I knew it, it turned into a viable career.
What’s your favourite thing about living in Korea?
Honestly, living in Korea as a foreigner has it’s perks, I don’t have to deal with the social and family pressures Koreans have to deal with, or even I would have had to if I was back “home”. First, I feel I have freedom to take chances and explore myself and second, given Korea’s infrastructure, it’s easy to move about and stay connected. The awesome food and diverse expat community are big pluses too.
What’s your favourite thing about Seoul in particular?
Being in Seoul means you’re in the middle of the action. I like Seoul for it’s variety of events and the diversity of it’s expat population. There are so many entrepreneurs and artists here that one can’t help but be inspired by all the unique perspectives people bring into the community.
Tell us a little about your services…
Well, I am a full time working freelance photographer. I am trying to blur the line between artist and photographer within me as I try to bring a distinct look to my work which, although is ever evolving, I hope is still not too mainstream. I work with a lot of F&B entrepreneurs and chefs, shooting portraits and interiors, as well as food photos. I also dabble in editorial and fashion portraits just to keep me on my toes.
My schedule? I freelance, so typically I am available 7 days a week, but usually I end up working 3-4 days a week (shooting) and the rest is meetings and editing. But really, awake or dreaming, there are images being created in my mind almost 24/7, specially because of some personal projects I am currently contemplating.
What makes you stand out from anyone else doing this in Korea?
I’d say my background in business combined with my passion for the art helps me balance the client’s business needs with my own as an artist. When I am working for a client, I am acutely aware of the business reason for capturing the images, I try to make sure the client gets a good return on their investment. I’m certainly not and don’t want to be the cheapest option, but I strive to be the one providing the most value in terms of quality, speed, and impact of images. There are a few good photographers out there, and they all have their strengths, I am just playing to the best of mine.
Tell us about the packages you offer as Anuj Madan, Photographer
Well, now that I seemed to have established myself in some small way in the community I shoot in, I am looking for longer term projects. I would rather shoot a marketing campaign or cover the product, interiors, and corporate portraits of a new business than a one time afternoon of shooting. Essentially, I prefer to work with brands to capture their story.
So for example, I offer retainer packages like 10-15-20 projects over 3-6 months instead of per hour rates.
How much lead time do people need to book Anuj Madan?
I would prefer to have a few face to face meetings with potential clients before jumping into a project – so a couple of weeks is best. Planning a project well, and working with people with whom I can create a unified creative vision with has worked well for me.
On what kind of projects would you prefer to work?
Honestly, this early in my photography career i’d love to try everything. I wish I could cover anti-war journalistic assignments just as much as capturing high end intimate portraits (which I am currently very interested in). And to be honest money ISN’T an issue – which is not to say I work for free.. But I do collaborate with other artists, I do offer my services pro-bono for good causes, and I expect businesses to pay me for the work I produce. My camera gear is the most expensive things I own, other than that I live quite simply… so if you have an interesting project no matter if it makes us $50,000 or costs me money to execute, I’m up for a coffee (on me) to discuss it.
A Favourite Memory:
Almost all my projects have left me delighted at the results, and I am proud to have worked with so many amazing people over the years. A simple example would be when I am told by clients or people in my photos that it’s the best photo of them they have ever seen. I sleep especially well those nights.