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Haemaru Ryu: I value facial expressions and the emotions reflected in the eyes.

Updated: Sep 3, 2022

To begin, can you please give us a little intro as to what motivated you to become a photographer?

I always had a passion for beautiful images. Being able to capture a microsecond of time is so magical to me, even today when videos are replacing more and more photographs for mass consumption. I became a professional fashion and cosmetic photographer progressively and naturally as my wife is an established makeup artist in Paris, working for some of the major French brands. In the beginning, as a hobbyist landscape photographer, I was simply lending a hand for a session or two for my wife. And I discovered the joy of creating a body of work where a team can put together and control most of the elements, with mesmerizingly beautiful models. The fact that I do most of my work in the studio also gave me artistic empowerment compared to a landscape where I was under the total mercy of Mother Nature.

Haemaru, how would you describe your photography style?

I won’t call it a style per se but I love minimalist studio images. I pursue images where my models are empowered and at the center of my images. I rarely use heavy props or decorations. As I am very keen on cosmetics portraits, I value facial expressions and the emotions reflected in the eyes.

What do you hope people take away from viewing your images?

Of course, as a fashion photographer, I hope the viewers find my images beautiful and original. I work to ensure that the garments and the makeup that my models are wearing are pleasing and intriguing. But the ultimate goal behind it would be to really carry a message or emotion. Unlike journalistic or artistic photographers, the latitude of artistic freedom is narrower. But the challenge of sublimating an underlying message within a fashion photography genre has always intrigued the best of photographers and I hope to reach that level of excellence in the future.

Haemaru, how would you define "beauty"? What does it mean to you?

Beauty for me is original and captivating. The rarity is what makes something “beautiful”, especially from the photographic standpoint. A dumping ground is beautiful just like an amazing natural landscape. And for my personal work, I look for elements that make my subjects rare and original.

What is your retouching philosophy? And what do you think it delivers in the final image?

I do my own retouching and I am against the heavy post-production processes. Of course, we can remove a few skin troubles here and there and even improve slightly the makeup. I also do slight color grading from RAW files to give a more professional look to my images. That has been said, I am lucky to be able to work mostly with highly competent professionals and the areas where I need to intervene in post-production is usually very limited. I do not wish to alter drastically the image as I believe that my team worked as a unit to create something in common. And if I modify them drastically during the retouching process, it is like hijacking the project from them.

Do you have any practical advice to give the photographers who are trying to master retouching for their own photography?

Instead of spending hours on Photoshop, spend the time to actually work on the image on set to have the right image on which you can work. As for retouching, make sure that you take your time. Even with all the new tools available, there is no easy way to reach the goal you expect except to take the time and really work on it.

What fascinates and motivates you most about being a photographer?

When I take 50 images of the same model with the same pose and lighting, there is always one image that stands out. And that is my motivation. Hoping to be able to capture the best version of the artists creating our team conceived together.

What type of project is dearest to your heart? Why?

As a Korean-born photographer living in France, I am working on a few projects that can bridge the two cultures together. And I’m truly honored to be in a position to be able to do so with my French-born wife who fell in love with the Korean culture since our marriage.

What is typically in your camera bag and what is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?

I am a die-hard Fuji shooter. When I work in the studio, my main camera setup is Fuji GFX100S with Fuji GF 110mm F2. As for outdoors, I just acquired Fuji X-H2S for more nimble and quick shootings and I usually use Fuji 56mm F1.2 or 90mm F2. As a studio photographer, my favorite accessory is the foldable poly boards I made myself.

What projects are you working on next, and what are your goals for the future?

We are currently working on an editorial series with more affirmed voice on social and environmental issues. We just finished the series on upcycling. Now we wish to do a series advocating against the environmental issues around fast fashion

Where can we see more of your works and get connected with you?

You can visit my website, and on my personal instagram account on @marunamou

Model: Elodie L De Kasiakoff @elodieldk

Photographer: Haemaru Ryu @marunamou

Creative Director: Maru&gwen @maru_n_gwen

Hair Stylist: Gwendaline Ryu

Fashion Designer: Céline Terrier @etc.vetements


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