Some people become crazy about one thing or another. If you have never experienced this, you are an unlucky person. Some people love their jobs, other people do work they don’t want. Which person feels satisfaction or self-confident in his or her work? Maybe the former person can feel these feelings more than the latter person. Now, do you really enjoy your work? Do you feel satisfaction or self-confident in your work? If you don’t feel this way, this person who can be a guide for forming your aptitude. The Sookmyung Times (SMT) met someone who has passion for her work like few others posess, Kang Le-Ah, a mountain photographer.
SMT: When is the first time that you climbed a mountain?
Kang: When I was 20 years old, my friend worked at a company, she asked me to go to the mountain with the climbing club in her company. The first time I climbed Mt. Gaya in Hapcheon, I saw the sunrise from this mountain. The sunrise landscape was the most I’d ever seen. I have gone to many mountains since that time. I started rock-climbing at the age of 29.
SMT: Why did you decide take mountain pictures?
Kang: Actually, I majored Fashion Design but I didn’t work for a company because if I did, I wouldn’t be able to go the mountains often. I worked part-time at a wedding studio, but I didn’t want to do this work so I entered Shingu College, Department of Photography & Image Media. After three semesters finished, I set up a photo studio before graduating. Then one day, my husband told me that I had a degree in photography, but there are many people who are expert photographers. He suggested I take pictures in the mountains. There aren’t many mountain or rock climbers who can take good pictures.
In other words, I would make a great mountain photographer. If I decide take a pictures, I should do work that only I can do. There is an old saying A Genius can’t catch a hard worker, but a hard worker can’t catch a person who loves his work. I think this is true. I love mountains very much, even on my moving day, I went to the mountain. I think mountains lead my life, my life is connected to the mountains.
SMT: I heard that being a mountain photographer is a very hard job for a woman, have you ever suffered difficulties as a woman mountain photographer?
Kang: I know that there are few women mountain photographers in the world, but there is no prejudice on the mountain other than common sense. Climbers don’t divide between men and women’s rolls. Actually when I climbed mountains with other climbers, we ate, climbed, and slept together. That means we went through a lot together. Climbers have a saying, 'Bind the navel string.'
Because we share our life during a climb. I think there is a special bond that connects climbers, making them more like a family. Climbing is similar to sports. Sports don’t have sex barriers in that its success needs struggle. The industry climber can climb mountain. Anyway, I have suffered physical pain, but I have never suffered a spiritual slump. Maybe it will happen that as long as I take pictures, I’ll never suffer slump while climbing a mountain.
SMT: What is fascinating about mountains?
Kang: I want to talk about the charm of nature instead of the charm of mountains. When I was in my twenties, I had trouble with my mother and was not well-adapted to society. Then I went to the mountains because I climbed mountains, I could forget every complication. In those days, climbing is the driving force of my social activity. But when I was in my thirties my thinking changed a little.
Have you heard what the famous musician, Brahms’ said? He said that when you walk in the mountains, you will be careful because there are many notes in the mountain. This means that nature is the breeze, the scent of a flower, and the sound of a brook. When I climb a mountain, I often feel nature and realize that nature is alive. I like this feeling very much. It is as if I communicate with nature.
SMT: For yourself, what is your favorite mountain?
Kang: I used to like Mt. Jiri, so I went there for five or six years. But lately, I’ve been going to Mt. Bukhan. I take kindly to Mt. Bukhan in that I go to this mountain once a week, but Mt. Bukhan gives me peace, that is the reason why I like Mt. Bukhan. Most climbers want to go to high and steep mountains, but I don’t have this greed. How I communicate with the mountain is more important than how I climb the mountain.
SMT: What do you want to do the future?
Kang: I will hold my first exhibition on November 18. I think this exhibition is not the end of a photographer, but start point. There is unique family-like culture among climbers. I want to record this aspect of the climber’s life. Actually people think that photographers take pictures of special people. But every photo I take gives me a different feeling. I want to record every moment of my colleagues’ lives. I will look at my photos and sympathize with them.
We don’t decide what is best for you. Sometimes money is on the front burner when you choose a job, sometimes celebrity is the best thing. But it is certain that a person who loves their work looks happier than anyone else. Kang Le-Ah chose what her favorite work is, and she is proud of her work. Maybe, she is one of the happiest people in the world.