- Catching Life and Essence
“Dayv Mattt was born in Toronto on April 28, 1977. He is addicted to cursing, simple white dress shirts, and shooting street photography. Dayv is very handsome and currently lives in Seoul with his equally gorgeous wife. There is nothing poignant Dayv wants to say about this photography.”
This is the description that you will be able to find on his website when you want to know more about him. Although there is no statement of him about his photography you will soon find out that this does not apply to his pictures. They are none you would find in an ad- which doesn’t mean that they are less impressive. The opposite is the case.“Dayv Mattt was born in Toronto on April 28, 1977. He is addicted to cursing, simple white dress shirts, and shooting street photography. Dayv is very handsome and currently lives in Seoul with his equally gorgeous wife. There is nothing poignant Dayv wants to say about this photography.”
Moments are banned on film- reflecting the life and essence of the city. Over the years the life on the streets of Seoul has been captured with his camera and a collection from 2008 to 2011 he published in a book called HIGH STREET LOW STREET. When going through his pictures everyone who has been to Seoul will be longing to go back and enthusiasts who have never been to South Korea will be dumbfounded when expecting tourist-y pictures. His pictures will show you a side of Seoul you will not get to see in commercials.
People might like it or not but his pictures do not fail to leave an impression.
K: How would you describe Korea/Seoul in three words?
DM: Convenient, ever-changing, modern
K: You are originally from Toronto, Canada and have been in Korea since 2002. What brought you to Korea?
DM: One of my best friends during University left for Korea a year before I graduated. I got a call from him just after graduating and seven days later I was in Korea. I hadn’t planned on staying very long, to be honest. I didn’t think I’d like it very much. Little did I know?
K: More and more foreigners find their way to Korea. What do you think is the motivation for them to come to Korea?
DM: Honestly, I think the biggest motivation for most foreigners finding their way to Korea is employment and a pay check. Most don’t stay more than a couple of years. I’m not 100% sure on this, but I think migrant workers have a maximum number of years they can stay and work here. They can’t stay longer than that set time even if they wanted to. For non-migrant workers, regulations are much better, but as I said, most head back home after a few years.
K: How has life for a foreigner changed in the last 10 years?
DM: I’m not sure life for a foreigner in Korea has changed very much since I got here. I never really thought it was that hard to begin with. Seoul is incredibly convenient, and if you get off the plane with an open mind and avoid comparing Korea to “the way things are back home” you begin to notice that things are pretty easygoing here.
K: When did you start doing photography? Was it something you were always interested in?
DM: I started shooting in High School and just kept at it. I didn’t become passionate about photography until I started shooting street photography. Before shooting street, I shot a lot at raves, protests, and events. I still like some of those older shots, but I am much fonder of my street stuff.
K: Your pictures are intriguing because they are realistic without any sense of embellishments. What are your favorite motives?
DM: I have had lengthy, often heated, debates about this kind of thing on the internet. I don’t really have a “motive”. I shoot street photography because I want to capture the city. If I lived in the country, I probably wouldn’t shoot that much. Seoul is an amazing city to explore and capture. I guess one motive would be that the fun places to explore are quickly disappearing. Narrow meandering side streets are looked down upon and grid patterned roads surrounding bland rectangular apartment blocks are replacing so much of the older areas. It’s kind of sad. I think a sense of community is lost in apartment complexes. I think people will enjoy looking at my photos much more in ten or twenty years.
K: What do natives think of your photography?
DM: Simply put, most native Koreans don’t like my photography. The vast majority of Koreans who have seen my photography think my pictures are dark and depict Seoul as some sort of ghetto full of poverty and filth. They want everything to be happy, perfect, and shiny. Not all of them think that way, but the vast majority I have encountered do.
K: Anything about Korea you will never be able to understand?
DM: There are, but I don’t feel like getting into them. I find that when I try to explain the things I don’t understand I come off as being a bit intolerant. I’m a pretty easy-going fellow so even the things that frustrate me because I don’t understand them are forgotten after a good night’s sleep. There are things I will never be able to understand about my own family back in Canada, so harping on things I don’t understand about Korea seems rather counterproductive.
© Kim Dinh; Photos: Dayv Mattt