10 Korean products I would export to the U.S. (if I had an export business) #8, Photography Studios.
(Edit: I realize that this isn’t a product, it’s a service, but I’d export that service to the U.S. if I could. Some places I am sure are already doing it this way, but I have never had the fortune to find those places at an affordable price.)
When was the last time you took a picture for an passport and were pleased with the way it turned out? In my case, it was in 2010, when I renewed my passport! It’s one of those things that I can be thankful for, because I live in Korea!
I can remember that when I lived in the U.S., I would always dread getting a passport photo. Usually the process involved either finding my own photography studio with less than energetic employees who just wanted to get the task over and done with, or taking the photo myself. All of these would result in horrible pictures.
I think the very WORST photo studio I ever went to, the “photographer” (if you can call him that) had me stand in front of a big metal door, and took my picture with a polaroid camera! He then told me to remain absolutely still, as he was going to take a second picture and they needed to be identical! The studio was at least nice enough to cut the picture for me, but the picture was so bad, I ended up just going to another studio to get another picture. What a waste of $20.
Even in the good studios though, they take the picture, print it, cut it to the right size, and get you out the door as soon as they can, without any emphasis on making the best possible picture for you. The result is a picture that you are stuck with for 10 years until you get your next passport. I was almost still a teenager when I got my last passport, so from 2000-2010, I had a poorly lit picture of myself with a gigantic zit on my face in there. Isn’t that awesome?
So, how is the situation in Korea?
Koreans need to submit photos of themselves for far more than the average American does. Sure, there are all the different ID cards and passports, but it’s even necessary to submit a photo for resumes, credit cards, work badges, and the like. Needless to say, it’s very important that people have a good looking photo of themselves.
There are photo studios everywhere, and they are relatively cheap. Earlier this year when I got my photo taken for my passport, it cost only 12000 won, and considering the amount of labor that went into it, and the photo that resulted, that’s awesome!
When I went to the studio, the nice lady informed me that I can’t take a passport photo wearing a white shirt in front of a white background. The studio had a jacket for me to wear. How convenient. The photographer set up the camera, taking plenty of time to adjust it, telling me to sit up straight, tilt my head a little to the left, and asked me to smile. After smiling she told me that it would be better not to show any teeth, as it makes me look less “serious”. She took about 10 different photos, and told me to come back in an hour.
One hour later I got my photos and sure, they look like me, but if I really looked that handsome in real life, I’d be a professional model, actor, singer, or at least be eye candy for someone, somewhere.
Take a look at these before/after pics that I found online from one of the studios. You can see the work that they do to make you look better than you actually are!