I met Lononder Teni Backare, aka Teni the Abstract, in Seoul, South Korea, where we both earned our bread and visa status as English teachers. We’d connected through social media and met up in the grungy yet rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood of Hongdae. Her passion outside of the classroom was spending her weekends on the streets of Daegu, documenting emerging Korean street styles by stopping strangers on the street and taking their portrait.
With plenty of style herself, and model looks, I wanted to do a shoot with Teni in the rusting alleyways of Chungmuro – host to a wild variety of available light in the evening . Unfortunately we didn’t have time and the stroll around Hongdae was our one and only meeting in Korea.
I met Teni again recently back in the UK on the final day of three exploring the capital by foot. I believe we briefly discussed our lives, before the rest of the fifty minutes we had together was spent conversing in the language of portraiture – ‘look left’, ‘turn that way’, ‘you’re a tiger!’. Actually, Teni didn’t need much instruction at all.
London Bridge gave the Chungmuro alleyways a serious run for their money in the available light stakes – at least during Christmas. I look forward to returning to London this year with a 24mm wide angle lens now in the armada (these shots are with 50mm and 85mm primes) and a little more time to collaborate again with photogenic fashionista Teni.