This week on Photo Stories, we shine the spotlight on the works of our great friend and collaborator, Seoul-based photographer Sharon Heit, who recently shared with us her wonderful collection of shots! By effectively blending floral elements with her ongoing explorations of femininity, she created an astonishing portrait set filled with both strength and vulnerability.
Elegant and affecting, these shots might have been less tasteful in less capable hands; but, in the adept and assured hands of such a skilled artist, female portraiture has never been so beautifully expressive.
Eager to look closer into this body of work and the artist behind it, we caught up with Sharon recently and were lucky she could grant us a quick interview:
Please tell us a little about yourself; where are you from and what do you do?
I relocated from Chicago to Seoul in 2012. By day, I work at a top marketing agency in Seoul, currently leading the digital content strategy and production of a major brand launch in Korea. I also write, edit and produce digital content for Korean brands marketing globally. By night, I’m a certified yoga instructor, soon to join a new studio opening next month.
Please tell us about these shots: How did this project start? Where did you take these shots? Any specific reasons to why you took them?
With my work schedule, I make a commitment to myself that I will reserve time to shoot once per month. So, I’m different maybe in that my shoots are not project-based. This set was taken in a studio. Oddly enough, most of my work is shot in a studio, but I would not consider myself a “studio” photographer. During the summer, I scout locations, but Seoul winters keep me indoors for a large part of the year. I started shooting with flowers recently, which is a little different for me. Up until now, I’ve always been a very non-conceptual shooter, usually not having a clear image in my mind, going into the shoot. I want to just capture people naturally, as they are. I think I became drawn to the flowers after changes in my personal life, a symbol of rebirth. Flowers are also fragile, yet resilient. They represent so much, just like the women I photograph.
Your shots successfully combine nature and plant elements with your reoccurring theme of female figures: How much of this was planned and is there an inherent message that you’re trying to convey?
The planning I did to prep is more about deciding the mood, but leaving room for that to change, depending on the model. I did have some inspirational images on hand, just in case. This is actually the first time I had reference shots with me. No shot was planned exactly prior; no flower arrangement was planned prior, either. I didn’t have a story in mind when I shot this. But what I feel now is the desire to hold on to something, maybe even fear it is already gone (yellow flowers), and that the things we give life can bring our end (the ones on back). My overall message is always the same, and that is what I keep in mind when I shoot.
Can you recall any interesting moments or funny stories during this project?
Two! I used a bath prop (for a different model, same project) and did not consider how much water it takes to fill a bathtub. Or that the water would be icy. I also purchased smoke bombs, and having never set off smoke bombs didn’t realize they cannot be set off indoors. So I had to scrap that and improvise that whole set.
Why is this collection of shots special to you? If you had to select a favorite shot, which would it be and why?
This collection is special because it is part of the next progression of my photographic journey. I chose the shot below because as I was going through the film, it was the first one that jumped out at me. The coloring does not pop like the others that are similar, but even still the model captivates you. You immediately want to know what she’s thinking.
Are there any new projects and plans you can share with us and our readers?
Honestly, I’ve been so busy these days, just getting in once a month to shoot is an accomplishment! I already have my next two shoots fully booked up, so look out for that. Other things on my list are printing a photo book and exhibiting. There is no rush on the photo book, but I know I should get moving on looking into exhibition space. I’ll be satisfied if I can do that in the latter half of the year. I’ve also got a few features coming up, so check out my website for more details!
To see more Sharon’s amazing work, please follow the links below:
Camera – Olympus OM-1n
Film – Kodak Ultra Max 400
Model – Meg Cozen, South Africa