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Local photo studios

Posted July. 31, 2017 07:38,   

Updated July. 31, 2017 08:15


A journey to the past while skimming through those long forgotten old albums gives us the feeling that we are time-travelling. Boys are smiling and sitting straight, wearing Korean traditional clothes and even traditional hats inside those faded photos taken during their first birthdays. Girls are also dressed with traditional skirts, jackets and hats. They also took pictures with parents whenever they advanced to middle or high schools. One may be surprised to find out how strikingly they resemble both their parents. And it was the local studios where the images of parents in their youth were long remembered in photos.

These days, photographers at studios render your appearances four to five years younger than your actual age, thanks to their service removing spots, blemishes, and wrinkles. Interviewers are often surprised to see different faces when they compare the photos on their resumes and their actual appearances at job interviews. Again, another byproduct of a cosmetic surgery-like rendering by studio photographers who use programs such as Photoshop. Gone are the days when "original appearances" actually depicted who you really are. Studio owners are now placed in this endless competition where simple shots cannot satisfy their customers.

What's more, studios have been bombarded by the new technology since the early 2000s. Not long after the digital camera made its debut, smartphones with cameras also appeared on the market. As anyone could shoot photos without film restraints, studios merley became a place to print. Moreover, the new consumer injury compensation rule has given ownership of negatives or raw photo files to consumers since 2003. The number of revisits to the studios plummeted, as customers brought back with themselves not only the photos, but also the raw files at their first visits. This is why the number of studios were halved from around 30,000 in 2007 to approximately 14,000 this year.

These local studios will be hit hard, as the government decided to introduce the blind recruitment system to public organizations starting July. Once taken into effect, the new system will roam out their identification photo business which currently takes 70 to 80 percent of studios' total income. This is why around 1,000 members of the Korean Professional Photographer's Association shaved off their heads to defend their right to live at the demonstration held on Friday. No more can we see professional photographers shooting students at entrance or graduation ceremonies. No longer will we be able to recollect our good old days when local studios are constantly closed one by one due to new technology and government policies.