HB Nam: Street Fashion Photography

Street Fashion Photography is one of the most popular photo categories now in South Korea. HB Nam, known as Nam in the international fashion world, is one of the leading photographers in this field. He has worked with Style.com, Grazia.it, Vogue Japan and GQ Japan. Below, he shares his personal thoughts on photography.

Q: Why did you start to use Leica cameras?

A: There were some photos that caught my eye and when I searched for the photographers of those pictures, they were quite old and there was a small camera on their necks. Yes, most of them were with “that” camera. I was sure that there must be something with “that” camera.

Q: Do you shoot in black-and-white in addition to color? What do you prefer more when shooting with Leica?

A: I don’t take black-and-white often. Because in fashion, there are more stories in color, it is not representing only color itself. However, it might sound paradoxical but shooting in black-and-white is more silent and focused. I can concentrate more on the subject and my time and space are subdivided like slow motion.

I usually photos take in colors, but when I want to express the person’s internal charm, it is more intense to take in black-and-white.

Q: I’ve heard you have a Leica M8 and an M9-P, what lenses do you use? Could you tell us the advantages of Leica lenses?

A: I use a Summicron 35 mm f/2 and a Summlilux 75 mm f/1.4, mostly I shoot with the 35 mm lens for quick snap shots. It is fast in focusing and I feel really comfortable with this lens; I never had trouble in focusing. I can figure out distance with the subject with only my fingers. Sure, the quality is awesome. I use the 75 mm for portrait shoots, the quality is splendid, but focusing is quite difficult and very sensitive. I need more practice and concentration with this lens.

Q: Can you tell us about this pictures? Why did you take it?

A: It’s of a top model and an ordinary guy passing by her. I was taking a portrait of the model and noticed the man quickly passing by the gap between the truck and model. I moved the frame a bit to the side and made these two people be the subject of the photo. Perfectly dressed up model and ordinary man, common street with eventful surroundings; I still feel subtle attractiveness with this photo.

Q: What is the story behind the above image?

A: It’s of Bill Cunningham, who has been a street fashion photographer for several decades. Behind him, there is interesting big window. The window reflects transformed color and distortion. This wavy reflection seems like it’s expressing Bill’s past years and somewhat it looks like the wrinkles of his face too.

Q: Best moment shot with Leica?

A: It was in New York during winter 2012, during a crazy blizzard. My camera was totally frozen, wasn’t operating well and the lens was blurry also. Suddenly the wind started blowing to the sides and the snow became wild. The man opened his umbrella to protect himself from the weather and I noticed the image on his umbrella. A few minutes after this shot, my camera was broken.

Q: Why street fashion? Are you interested in photojournalism too?

A: I love documenting something. I think archive of several years, I can see a flow through that and there are connections between this and that photo. It recreates a new meaning to a photo again. Then the photo is not just an interesting shot but with different stories. I don’t sort photos into street fashion or journalism, documenting the subjects I like, that’s what I am doing.

Q: Tell us about your hobby, skateboarding. How is it going these days?

A: Skateboarding is too cold these days! I go for fishing or snowboarding; I like camping too. I visit different places and take many pictures. I have many overseas trips scheduled all year around, so I don’t feel quite comfortable with enjoying my hobbies. I always feel pressed with my schedule. I should check emails every time and there are so many things to take care of. When I want to run-away from all of these, I play Grand Theft Auto V!

Thank you for your time, Nam!

– Leica Internet Team

See more of Nam’s work on his blog.

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