K Food

Photographing the traditional markets of South Korea has become one of my long-term personal projects. The narrow streets, the smoke and shadow and light, the faces and hands of the shop owners…all of these elements make the markets a kind of photographic treasure trove, and a challenge that keeps me coming back for more.


Gwangjang Market, Seoul. © Ben Weller /www.wellerpix.com/ All rights reserved

Last year, Octopus Publishing in the UK contacted me about a book project. The authors, Da-hae and Gareth West, run Busan BBQ, a food truck at London’s Street Feast. They had seen my market work, and they were interested in having me shoot photographs for their cookbook of Korean street food and homestyle cooking. The assignment was to spend a day in Seoul with Da-hae and Gareth as they ate and shopped their way through the city’s traditional markets and famous street food areas. I jumped at the opportunity.

I had a fantastic time seeing the Korean food scene through these chefs’ eyes, and of course, eating some great food. Now, a year later, I’ve received my advance copy of the book and I am ready to start cooking. From sauces and soups to bulgogi burgers and pajeon, this book has a ton of great recipes. If you love Korean food like I do, it’s a great way to learn to cook your favorite dishes like beokumbap (fried rice) and doenjang jjigae (soybean stew). But Da-hae and Gareth are super creative, too, so don’t expect just your standard fare. There’s Mango Kimchi and Korean Chilli Crab, Ramyun Chicken Buns and Gochujang Meatloaf. There’s also a drinking section, including a Kimchi Bloody Mary and something they call a “Grown-up Yakult”, featuring the ubiquitous sweet yogurt and soju (plus some other ingredients–but you’ll have to buy the book to find out). K Food comes out May 5, and you can pre-order your copy at Amazon.

View the gallery below for more pictures from my day with Da-hae and Gareth:

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Ben Weller is a photographer in Nagoya, Japan. All images by Ben Weller /www.wellerpix.com © 2016

Shooting Industry in Ulsan, South Korea


I had the pleasure last Sunday of going up to Ulsan with a great bunch of photographers to shoot some of the industrial zones around the city. The Ulsan Industrial District is home to many of South Korea’s largest industrial projects, including Hyundai Heavy Industries and the third largest oil refinery in the world, operated by SK Energy.

If you’ve looked at my work, you know I’m first and foremost a people photographer. I like people even in my industrial shots to add scale, movement, and a human connection.Image

As we were shooting on a Sunday evening, there weren’t a lot of people around, so I mostly had to rely on light, detail, and composition to get the dynamic images I wanted. In the lead picture in this post, I was waiting for a car to come around the bend in the road to give the image a little more energy. I was pleasantly surprised when instead of a car, I got a bus, giving me two parallel tracks of red light moving through the picture.

Here are few more shots from the day:






A little about our group:

Photographer Keith Homan kindly offered a group of us from Busan a ride, and once in Ulsan, we met up with one of my favorite landscape/cityscape photographers working in Korea, Jason Teale. Jason has a lot of insights into shooting industry, and he was gracious enough to show us some of his “secret” vantage points from which to photograph the area. Also along on the trip with us was my friend Pete DeMarco from The Nomad Within, and Nathan, Dana, and Scott. I’ve covered enough red carpets and press conferences in Korea to be comfortable working with a large group of pushy and highly competitive photographers. This group, however, was friendly, supportive, and willing to share tips. I look forward to working with everyone again soon!

Here’s a shot of Pete DeMarco hard at work:


And some more of the guys. As you can see, it was cold up there on the rooftop:


Click here for more of my industrial images of South Korea and the US.