Kekhriezalie Keretsu went all the way to Seoul from Nagaland, to learn Korean language – a pursuit he is most passionate about. While living in the city as a student, the beautiful landscape and the people of Seoul inspired him to take up photography – which interestingly, also helps him get some extra pocket money to manage his expenses. As a personal style and preference, his photography mostly bends towards street and fashion photography – which compliments his curiosity for learning more about people, culture, fashion, current trends and more.
The thing that stands out from most of his photographs is the way he captures the raw essence of people and their surroundings in their barest format. He says he finds beauty in capturing everyday moments that are random and occurs naturally around us. What interests him is the way he is able to capture the beauty of such random events and portray the same to an audience. “My focus tends to shift more towards people who are less distracted by objects. Especially the elderly people, mainly because I feel like they are truly living in the moment – unlike the younger generation folks, who are mostly absorbed and distracted by the world around them on social media.”
We had a chat with Kekhriezalie Keretsu from Nagaland, who is based in South-Korea. He talks about his passion for street and fashion photography, how it got started and many more!
Please introduce a little about yourself.
Hi, my name is Kekhriezalie Keretsu. I was born and brought up in Kohima Village, Nagaland (India) and currently based in Seoul, South Korea. I’ve been here since March, 2018 studying Korean language at a small Language institute and after classes, work part time at a salad restaurant located in the bustling streets of Hongdae.
What initially sparked your interest in photography?
Photography has somewhat been a passion I discovered only after coming here. I honestly had zero interest in Photography, not to mention I was quite terrible at it, (oh, the horrendous photos I use to take of family and friends!!) until I picked up a camera here for my family back home and used it for a few days. I learned some basics along with some technical stuff off YouTube and after playing with it for a while, it’s such a cliché to say this but I realized there was much more to it than simply just taking a ‘picture’. It’s only been a few months (8 months to be precise) but since then, I have completely submerged myself into using this tool as a creative outlet, to express myself and to deal with the terrible social anxiety that I have.
Street photography taken by Kekhriezalie Keretsu
Street photography of a model at Seoul’s fashion week | by Kekhriezalie Keretsu
How has your upbringing influenced your working style?
I am fortunate enough to say that I was raised in a family who gave me all the love and support to pursue anything I believed in and offering me advice on the choices that I make and even the mistakes that I commit, thus, leaving me with the freedom and confidence to never hesitate on doing anything that peaks my interests. Experience wise, I am still very new to this as to go and say that I have a style of my own. That will come later on as I experiment with different settings and subjects. For now, I’m working towards understanding the broad spectrum of colors used in cinematography in my pictures, colors that evokes certain responses, emotions or feelings of the viewer.
What do you do full-time? If part-time, how do you manage?
As a language trainee, I have classes every day and I work part time at a restaurant, after. From dish-washing to making salads, supervising the kitchen and also taking on assignments to take pictures of our salads (food photography) from time to time. I can’t be thankful enough to God for all these blessings and to my friend, Areni Humtsoe, for introducing me to the restaurant owners. By doing this alone, I have been able to fully support myself here.
Spicy Thai prawn salad | Food Photography by Kekhriezalie Keretsu
Breakfast food Photography by Kekhriezalie Keretsu
What is your creative philosophy and tell us where do you draw inspirations from?
As far as my short photography journey is concerned, I have shot mostly street and fashion. Although I am interested in both genres, I could say that my heart belongs to the streets. It definitely is challenging because it requires a lot of patience, and luck.
As I dive deeper into the world of street photography, I am starting to see things differently. I have become interested in documenting the ‘grey’ part of daily life, the details that human beings turn a blind eye to. As Ernst Hass quoted, “I am not interested in shooting new things, I am interested to see things new”, it may be a simple gesture – a person completely lost in thought, people reacting over each other’s stories after work, a certain color that pops out of the crowd , an interesting light shining over a subject, etc.
I learned that there’s a lot of story to tell if you just look around and ‘see’. It is about capturing those moments in its rawest essence that I find some sort of beauty in. Everything around us is constantly changing. We can never be certain about people, places or things to remain as they are today then tomorrow. So, to me, it’s all about preserving those moments. As for inspirations, I like to refer to works mostly of contemporary street photographers like Sean tucker, Shane Taylor and Joshua K. Jackson, all of them having different styles and approaches to street photography with extensive knowledge in their own line of work.
Seoul’s Street photography by Kekhriezalie Keretsu
Photography of a model during Seoul’s fashion week by Kekhriezalie Keretsu
What do you hope people take away from your Photographs?
Like I mentioned, I am still a complete beginner at this and I have a lot to learn but if it’s something I want my viewers to take away from my pictures, I would say, there are countless moments happening around us, some of which may not always be beautiful at times, but all we need to do is observe, sympathize, and appreciate this short yet beautiful thing called life.
What gets you particularly excited about pursuing photography?
Being an introverted person with a very high case of anxiety, it was always difficult for me to do something which required me to step out of my comfort zone, it still is. And street photography literally demands that from you. Due to tight classes and work schedules, I barely get time to shoot outside of my daily route so I mainly shoot on the subway on my way to and from work. On my off days and holidays, I go on photo walks mostly around the busy streets of Hongdae and Myeongdong, just because it’s easier to find subjects unaware and hurrying off to certain destinations.
My focus tends to shift more towards people who are less distracted by objects. Especially the elderly people, mainly because I feel like they are more into – living the moment than the present generation, who are mostly absorbed and distracted by electronic devices.
Photography of an old man taking a subway ride | shot by Kekhriezalie Keretsu
A photography of a father giving his son a piggy-back ride in the Subway| by Kekhriezalie Keretsu
At times, I get confronted by people who notice me taking their pictures to which, I had to delete them on their request. The whole experience may sound uncomfortable to most people but it definitely helped me in dealing with people in certain situations, so in a way it has also become a therapeutic process for me. Some may view it negatively as to why someone should invade another’s privacy but to me, it’s all about being respectful to your subject and doing it in a tasteful manner.
Now, coming to fashion photography, last year, just out of curiosity, I attended the Hera Seoul Fashion Week and found the opportunity to shoot some few models which, to this day, has been the best experience. It was a completely new experience for me and I got to know a lot of people and models as well. I think that’s the best thing about photography. The opportunity to meet new people from different countries, backgrounds, ethnicities, etc., you don’t only learn about them but you also get to learn a bit more about yourself as a person.
Photography of a model during Seoul’s fashion week taken by Kekhriezalie Keretsu
Photography of a model during Seoul’s fashion week by Kekhriezalie Keretsu
Photography of a young model during Seoul’s fashion week| shot by Kekhriezalie Keretsu
What was your most memorable photoshoot so far?
My most memorable photo yet was the very first ‘street’ picture I made of a kid who was nagging his parents to play with a claw machine (where you get to pick dolls/goodies) but was dragged away just because they didn’t know how to operate the machine. Once I got back home and looked at it, I immediately knew I wanted to share such simple stories through pictures, even if it may seem insignificant to others. This very picture got me into street photography.
Street photography of a kid who was nagging his parents to play with a claw machine but was dragged away because they didn’t know how to operate the machine | by Kekhriezalie Keretsu
Follow Kekhriezalie Keretsu on Instagram to see more of his street photography and more!
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