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Meryl Olah

Chicago Center for Literature and Photography Photographer Feature, 2/13/2014 Editor: Rebecca Vipond Brink

Location: Seoul, South Korea

Meryl Olah is a California-native recently transplanted to Seoul, South Korea. She studied Fine Art with an emphasis in Photography at Mills College in California and has had exhibitions in Los Angeles and San Francisco as well as being featured in many print and online publications.

Where have your travels taken you and why have they taken you there? I’ve traveled throughout the U.S., Europe, and in the more recent years through Southeast and Eastern Asia. Just under two years ago I transplanted from California to Seoul, South Korea where I live with my boyfriend. In that time, we have embarked on journeys through Korea, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Macau and we’re about to pack our bags again for a trip to Malaysia.

I think I’m a bit of a romantic when it comes to traveling. I want to seek out these incredibly romantic situations; those magical moments, stories, and nostalgia when thinking back to them, are worth all the trivial things in between that make up the reality of travel. I think that the movement creates a really satisfying and refreshing energy that makes me feel more alive and fulfilled, thus fueling a creativity akin to romance.

Tell me about the friends you photograph: how do you feel about photographing your friends rather than strangers and how do they feel about being photographed?

I’m definitely not a shutter happy photographer. With that said, I do always carry my camera, but wait for moments where time slows and I feel a sense of intimacy with my subject matter, whether it be scenic, figurative, or simply the way light plays within a composition. I think that because I refrain from photographing every second, that when I do photograph people close to me, they also feel the magnitude of the moment and the interaction between photographer and subject becomes one of collaboration rather than voyeurism. I think it’s the photographer’s role to ensure that artist-subject reciprocation is in balance. It also helps that most of my friends are artists and musicians who have a knack for enhancing everydayness.

What do you look forward to in your career as a photographer?

My current situation has me more in the field, but I’m always traversing between taking and making images, so I guess I look forward to the day when I have a more studio-focused practice. I’m also interested in the tactile potential of images and how a body of work can be viewed, specifically in the form of a book. I think publishing has gotten to an amazing place where artists are able to control the platform for experiencing the images as well as developing another element conceptually. I’ve been working on some small print projects and I’m hoping to expand it into an opportunity to collaborate with other artists.

CCLaP Photo Feature: Meryl Olah  

This week's photographer feature from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography highlights the work of Californian artist Meryl Olah...