CLICK CLICK—bright lights blind your eyes and all you hear are the snaps of the camera. Your body stiffens, uncomfortable with the amount of attention you are receiving; but as you adjust to the studio’s surroundings and the photographer’s occasional “you’re doing great” remarks, you slowly begin to loosen up. Even though we live in a technological society where we can take hundreds of high-quality photos with a simple flick of our fingers, photo studios continue to thrive in our neighborhoods to remind us of how it feels to be the protagonists of the world, even if it’s just for a few minutes. From becoming the next Victoria’s Secret Angel to making your own rendition of The Matrix, you realize that you can become anything and everything in front of the camera lens. From paparazzi shots to computer generated (CG) effects, meet some of the most eye-catching photo studios that will make your dreams a reality.
“What on earth is going on with all these CG effects?”—would be the first thought that crosses your mind when you take a look at the pictures created by Glamour Shots. From personal renditions of Star Wars to your cat’s face being photoshopped onto the Great Sphinx of Giza, you will see the wildest of your dreams digitized right in front of your eyes in this photo studio.
As one of the “hottest” studios on social media nowadays, Glamour Shots is characterized by its use of CG effects on portrait photos. Famous for their bizarre yet bewitching works, three aspiring photographers—Han Dae-woong, Lee Bora, and Kim Yeon-joong—enrich their photos with retro and comical aesthetics. The photographers credit their nonchalant and unconventional editing processes for their extraordinary works. “We go through stages of trial and error because we don’t work on a portrait with specific visuals in mind,” says Kim. “But it is precisely those mismatches on a blank canvas that we get our final outcomes from; and we truly value that.”
The studio focuses on two types of portraits: family portraits and portraits with pets. Given the bizarre nature of the studio, do not expect a cozy and cuddly picture with your pet, as the outcomes consist mostly of the pet carrying the owner on its paws or the pet looming behind the owner like Big Brother*.
Adding to the unpredictable nature of Glamour Shots, there is no specific location for the studio, as the photographers rent different studios for the shoots without a set schedule. Each shoot costs \180,000 and Glamour Shots takes reservations through its official Instagram account. If you are looking to test your creativity and bring out the ingenuity in you, Glamour Shots is the perfect studio for you.
Photo Café, CharLee Gangmul
As the aroma of maple syrup and coffee envelops you, the faces from dozens of portraits hanging on the walls welcome you to Photo Café, CharLee Gangmul. Relaxing in the cozy bistro, you begin to notice the sounds of consecutive clicks of a camera. Just as you turn your head, your eyes rest upon a photographer discreetly taking pictures of the couple sitting at the table next to you, taking the café’s signature paparazzi shots.
As the name indicates, Photo Café, CharLee Gangmul is a combination of a café and a photo studio, located in the quiet streets of Seocho-gu. This unique photo studio specializes in paparazzi shots, where the studio’s dual purpose as a café comes in handy. The models are invited into the café where the photographer—paparazzi—is able to take pictures of the models in their most comfortable and casual state. The photographs taken in the studio give off soft and cozy vibes, thanks to the photographer’s efforts to be as least intrusive as possible.
The outcomes of these paparazzi shots embody the values that the photographers—CharLee and Gangmul—deem to be the most important: naturalness and spontaneity. “We try to capture our customers in their most natural moments,” says CharLee. “We also focus on drawing out each customer’s story during the shoots.” The photographers use backlight and a monochromatic color scheme to keep the photos as raw and genuine as possible.
During the paparazzi shoots, the photographers secretly photograph you for an hour and the shoot itself costs \55,000. If you are uncomfortable posing in front of a stranger or prefer candid pictures that display your realest self, Photo Café, CharLee Gangmul, will surely not disappoint you.
Mang woo sam lim
The moment you enter the studio, you lock eyes with a portrait of a woman in a flaming red dress on a metallic purple backdrop. The startling yet oddly complementary color combination leaves a striking afterimage as you look around the studio. As your eyes adjust to the vivid lights and the studio’s vintage and vibrant interior, you realize that you’ve set foot into a whole different world—Mang woo sam lim.
As with their interior, the studio’s photographs are marked by their uniquely vibrant colors and the photographer’s innate sense of vintage aesthetics. The color combinations of red and green, purple and neon orange, and silver and dark blue leave a deep impression upon those who take a look at the final outcomes. These color schemes can be found in all the different types of photographs the studio takes.
From developing film photos to taking ID pictures, there is nothing that Mang woo sam lim doesn’t offer in the field of photography. Photographer Yoon Byung-joo explained that he pays the most attention to the interactions with his customers when carrying out a shoot. Thus, he uses his Mang woo sam lim not only as a photo studio, but also as a film laboratory** and a meeting place where Yoon is able to communicate with his models***. Most of the studio shoots are done with film cameras and cost \40,000 per shoot, while developing individual photos cost from \3,000 to \9,000 depending on the quality of the photos. If you enjoy reveling in the vintage sentiments of film cameras and are willing to take risks with bold colors, Mang woo sam lim is your perfect fit.
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Whether it is through vibrant colors or hilarious CG effects, these photoshoots will allow you to take a break from your mundane, everyday life and transform you into a charming hero of the day.
*Character from 1984
**Film laboratory: A shop that develops films from film camera