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Breda Portrait Shoot

Breda’s a friend of mine and just needed some resume photos. I think I got a little carried away.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted some music. Here’s an oldie, because I’m missing San Diego at the moment.

Frou Frou – Let Go

Shot with Nikon D700 + 35mm/1.4 + 85mm/2.8 + Nikon SB800 through a softbox. Post processed with Lightroom and VSCO.


Sarah + Eric Engagement

Sarah and Eric came over to Seoul from the Philippines for a little vacation and engagement photography. I had a blast with them. Like everyone I’ve met from the Philippines, they were warm, amiable, and had easy laughs. We walked around for a bit, and took pictures when we weren’t being taunted by the rain. Sarah was brave enough to wear her dress despite it being nearly freezing. Actually, even though we shot this in mid April, it snowed for about 5 minutes that day.

Congrats guys!  Come back to Korea soon!



Marie Claire Magazine Photo Shoot – Now on My Way to Meet You

I recently had a chance to shoot for Marie Claire Australia here in Seoul. This story was published this Month (May) about an unlikely popular TV show here called Now on my Way to Meet You, featuring glamorous North Korean defectors. So much news on North Korea centers on politics and security, it’s easy to forget that North Korea’s society eerily resembles Orwell’s creepy social vision in 1984. This show is awesome because it introduces South Koreans to North Koreans in a real, tangible way. After 60 years of separation South Korea seems to have forgotten that the North is part of Korea. Technically South Korea still claims sovereignty over the North, but very few South Koreans hope for reunification. Some do, but almost no one wants to pay for it.

If you’re also looking for more stories of normal North Koreans, I highly recommend Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy.

We also got lucky because we went on a day featuring mini Psy. I’ve forgotten his name already, Kang Min Ho I think. Anyhow, it was super easy, a lot of fun, and the women were beautiful. Story is written by Leslie Patrick. The article isn’t up on the web yet, but I’ll update this post when it is.

By the way, I have no idea what’s up with the terrible photoshop job on this front cover. I liked the photo as it was originally, shown below. I guess Marie Claire didn’t.

Me with Mini Psy!!

Interpreter John Kim, and writer Leslie Patrick.

This kid loves the camera.


[…] While the television show itself undoubtedly provides the platform for storytelling, the ability for the stories to be shared online gives powerful support to the heartfelt appeals of those featured on the show. Indeed Russo and Watkins in their article Digital Cultural Communication:
 Enabling new media and co­-creation in South­ East Asia discuss how ‘convergent information and communication technology has promised the delivery of multi­ channel, multi­-platform content where choice is in the hands of the consumer’ (Russo and Watkins, 2005). This describes a shifting of consumption patterns and empowers audiences by enabling access to content on their own terms. There are sites that allow you to download and/or stream episodes, such as Hanbeat and a number of episodes on YouTube that can be viewed (though most are entirely in Korean). In addition, the ‘Now On my Way To Meet You’ cast have been catapulted into the blogosphere: here voted number one in the ’10 Most Amazing North Korean Defectors’, and here in a Marie Claire Australia photo shoot.  […]

Philippines – Home Away from Home, part 1 Fujifilm x100s

I was recently invited to tour the Philippines with some other Korean bloggers. Actually Dan Gray from Seoul Eats was invited, but thankfully couldn’t make it, so sent me instead. Koreans are the number one tourists over there and the Philippine Department of Tourism invited us to try to lure some more Koreans over. A free trip? Free tour? Top rate hotels and restaurants? Hell yes I’m in. I am horrible at planning vacations – year ago I spent 10 days in Vietnam and literally never left Ho Chi Minh City. My friend and I barely left our hotel rooms. We beelined to French bistros and then back home to safety. So, having a tour all planned out let me turn my mind off, my audiobook up, and zone the f out.

I loved the Philippines. It stole a part of my heart. It was beautiful, relaxing, and all that stuff that tropical islands are. But most importantly, the people were warm and welcoming. I think I miss a culture where strangers can talk to each other, smile for no reason, and be loving to a complete stranger. Before the Philippines adopted their current slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines”, it used to be “Your Home Away From Home”. I wish they never changed it – the latter is much more fitting. “It’s more fun in the Philippines” implies a wild lifestyle to me, like Vegas or something. But the Philippines isn’t like that. It’s just homey. I’ve already half decided to move there.

I will be posting detailed information of each day over at Seoul Eats in the coming weeks (as per our contract), but wanted to get some pictures up here for now.

For this trip I left my Nikon set at home and took only my new Fujifilm x100s.

Typically for a trip like this I’d bring my Nikon D700, 3-4 lenses, 2 flashes, and a tripod. I even considered taking my softboxes. I actually had all my batteries charged and all the gear organized, but the day before leaving I decided to leave it all behind and just take the Fuji. I’m glad I did. The Fuji was perfect for 90% of the trip. The only time I really wanted my Nikon kit was during action shots, and those were few. The fuji just isn’t built to capture action. The autofocus is slow and it doesn’t let you recompose without refocusing. It’s quite annoying actually. But other than that the camera was/is perfect. It’s small, silent, and damnnnnnnn sexy.

Day 1 and 2. Banaue and the Mountain Province. 

After a grueling, torturous, neck-breaking 13 hour bus ride north from Manila we arrived at our hotel at 1am. We crawled into bed, nursing our possibly terminally damaged necks, but were pleasantly surprised to wake up the next day to this view from our rooms:

We took a jeepney about an hour into the mountain to begin a trek to see the Banaue Rice Terraces. Jeepneys are the Philippine equivalent of busses and can be seen everywhere.

Our adorable Department of Tourism correspondent Alessa.

Along the way we reached a rough spot in the road. Luckily a road crew gave that jeepney a push and then plowed the road for ours.

Had to stop for a beer before the long trek. We drank copious amounts of San Miguel and a light 25% brandy that cost about $3 for a 1L bottle.

To get to the Banaue Rice Terraces the jeepney drops you at the top of the mountain, and then you trek 2 hours down the back. Along the way some kids might melt your heart, and an old lady will probably try to get you hooked on Betel Nut. Contrary to the woman’s promises, the betel nut did not make me high or irresistible to women.

Just a bird, chillin.

Banaue Rice Terraces

Traveling is all about who you’re with, and I lucked out. Our group members were all either bloggers or youtube personalities (except our 4 tour guides) and each brought a vibrant and unique character. Check out their pages.

In order – left to right.

Jin Seok JinYoutube extraordinaire. And member of Talk to me in Korean.
Kei Cho – From
Julia – Korean tour guide.
Alessa Mae Entienza – The group baby and our representative from the Philippine Toursim Department.
Harry – Korean tour guide.
Javi Maldonado – Owner of Somos in Hongdae, Youtube genius, and blogger at Todo Corea. He’s basically the guy you follow if you speak Spanish and are interested in Korea. Also a professional at splitting his pants. He managed to ruin two pairs. He also loves to eat crickets, as we’ll see in part 2.
Jasmine Bae – Blogger at Also winner of most clothes worn down a water slide prize. 
Wonsup Kim  – Travel photographer genius, my personal hero, and also my roommate throughout the trip. Blog at He pretty much had the same photo kit I left back in Korea and so I unendingly envied his gear and cursed myself for leaving mine at home.
Darwin – Our tour guide at the Bananue Rice Fields. After 3 hours of trekking he barely broke a sweat. I, on the other hand, was burned and continuously self-showering. I have no idea how he’s chubby, he does that hike 3-4 times a week.
Hyojin Ahn – Talk to Me in Korean rep and the only one who didn’t eat any rice or bring a camera on the trip. She’s in the next picture, blowing Javi to pieces. She’s also a spongebob fanatic and pretend-eater.

We did several of these “levitation photos”. In the next one after this Javi split his pants from crotch to knee down the inner right thigh. He had to do a 3 hour walk of shame.

On the way down the mountain this guy with terrifically distinctive feet jumped on the back of our jeepney for a kilometer or so.

In another region of the mountain provinces. It can’t be overstated or overimagined how prevalent these rice terraces are. They are all built by hand, stone by stone, and they are everywhere.

Wait, this looks familiar… Oh.. 1,000 peso note… equivalent to about $25.

A traditional Ifugao gentleman.

This guy pulled an amazing photobomb. Considering my shutter was at 1/250 of a second, this guy timed it perfectly. Well done sir. I doubt you’ll ever be beat.

Day three and four. Sagada.

Julia modeling for me in the attic of our hotel. 

Hanging coffins in Echo Valley, Sagada. Apparently the tradition is still practiced and the latest body was hung in 2010.

Old church ceiling.

Our Philippine tour guide throughout the whole trip, Omar. Always up for a joke and laugh. Thank God he was there, the trip wouldn’t have been the same without him.

1 hour trek down to a waterfall near Sagada.

Jin and Wonsup went for a dive.

Julia modeling for me again. Thanks Julia!

Sumaguing Caves, Sagada

These caves were amazing. It’s about a 1 hour trek down to the bottom where there are crystal clear pools. The trip is a bit treacherous though and not for the faint of heart. The rocks are extremely slippery. But it’s well worth it.

When leaving Sagada I saw this majestic dog just chillin. Had to snap a picture.

Unedited photo of morning mist in the mountains near Sagada.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in about a week!

Sunny ColeApril 23, 2013 - 2:49 PM

Wow! Beautiful, Dustin! Looking forward to your part 2.

Mon TarucJuly 24, 2013 - 12:38 AM


Becoming Bruce Lee with Emil Lewis

A couple months back I had an opportunity to meet Emil Lewis and write a piece on him for Groove Magazine. Emil took on a self made challenge to become as much like Bruce Lee as possible within 60 days. Considering Bruce Lee was sexiness personified, this was a lofty goal. I had a really great time and we did a photoshoot on the roof of my apartment in Haebangchon. I never bothered to read the story in the magazine, but I hear Groove highly edits them. Anyway, I’ve posted my original version down below if you’re interested in his story.


Becoming Bruce Lee

Story and photos by Dustin Cole


Emil Lewis stared at his 5’8”, 190lb, 31-year-old image in the mirror. A familiar face with an unfamiliar body stared back. For the first time in his life, Lewis was overweight and out of shape. Slow, incremental lifestyle choices had caused Lewis to steadily gain weight, culminating in a check up where a doctor exclaimed that Lewis “had the lungs of a six year old”. It’s a familiar story. First, a sedentary job, then a kind wife, then the bulging stomach with what men prefer to call love handles. It escalates quickly. Staring in the mirror that day Lewis did something many people do every morning, he decided to do something about it. Unlike the majority however, he stuck with it. Now, seven months after the mirror encounter, Lewis boasts the best shape of his life. He’s down 45lbs and accomplishing feats such as one-handed two-finger push ups and kicking his own shoulder.

After an initial four month diet, losing 40lbs in four months through dieting and exercise, Lewis began a project he calls Becoming Bruce Lee: an experiment and challenge to get as close as possible to Bruce Lee’s physical fitness within two months. During the two months Lewis followed Bruce Lee’s exercise routines, dietary guidelines, and worked towards Lee’s famous physical feats. To understand the extent of this commitment it is necessary to understand both the normalcy of Lewis and the extremity of Bruce Lee.

Emil Lewis is a fairly normal chap. Born and raised in California, he met and married his Korean wife several years after joining the Air Force at age 18. He is not extreme or uncompromising, has an easy laugh, lacks affected airs, and has a mannered demeanor well past his 31 years. During email correspondence he uses the formal “Mr. _____” long after being called by his first name. His day job as a translator in the Air Force has a low fitness requirement and he doesn’t work out at a gym, preferring body weight exercises at home and a nearby school. Unlike most fitness fanatics who seem to use fitness as compensation for other shortcomings, Lewis is easy going, confident, and doesn’t seem to need to show off. During our interview, rather than an unnecessarily tight shirt (the uniform of insecure fitness types), Lewis opted for a clean loose-fitted t-shirt. He did however wear iconic, loose-fitting, well-worn martial-arts pants.

— —

Bruce Lee was (and still is) the epitome of asian male masculinity. He dominated the martial arts industry, both on stage and in the ring. Through a severe regimen of exercise and nutrition, and a philosophy of adaptation, Bruce Lee became, indisputably, one of the most influential martial artists of all time.

Bruce Lee was not only skilled technically in martial arts, but he believed martial artists of his time didn’t emphasize physical conditioning enough. Lee practiced all kinds of fitness including cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, and muscular endurance. He could perform such feats as 50 one-armed chin ups and could extend, with one arm, a 75lb barbell from his chest, straight out, to a perpendicular position with his body, and hold it for several seconds. When asked who would win in a fight between them, even the omnipotent Chuck Norris hastily replied, “Bruce of course. Nobody can beat him.”

Lee also focused on “the correct fuel”, avoiding refined flour, dairy, overeating, and empty calories. He preferred Chinese food, fruits and vegetables, and took copious amounts of dietary supplements and protein drinks. Bruce Lee famously said, “It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

— —

Like a child looking up from the base of Mt. Everest, Emil Lewis could not have chosen a loftier goal. Lewis had had no formal martial arts background. But of course the goal was not to actually become Bruce Lee in two months, but to use Bruce Lee as a muse. Lee was not only a severe fighter, but a teacher and philosopher and is an ongoing fountain of inspiration. Lewis has long looked up to Bruce Lee as a mentor and guide and has studied many of Lee’s books and films. While Lewis isn’t a fighter, one doesn’t have to be to appreciate and envy Bruce Lee’s physical prowess.

Lewis’s exercise and nutrition regimen was extreme. He cut out most carbs and meats, and even experimented with a noxious smoothie of steak, peanut butter, and milk. Daily, after one hour of stretching, he worked extensively with a punching bag, performing at least 1000 punches and 200 kicks. He performed weight training several days a week, ran two to four miles a day, and practiced with nunchaku. Just as Bruce Lee advocated an adaptable approach to learning, or “the style of no style”, Lewis both practiced Bruce Lee’s exercises and developed his own. Near the end he even started experimenting with gymnastics.

Throughout the project Lewis faced some setbacks. As with any drastic lifestyle change, friends and family were initially confused and concerned. Lewis normally enjoys a social drink, but throughout the challenge was forced to cut back on socializing to maintain his nutrition and exercise. Most often he simply declined requests to go out. (As stated earlier however, Lewis is not a completely uncompromising man and broke his diet on one occasion for a visiting friend.) He also suffered from the problem of plateau. In any improvement, progress seems to come in spurts, and the plateaus can be depressing places. Without any direction but the films and books of a 40 years-deceased instructor, Lewis often questioned his techniques and wondered if he were making the correct improvements.

What did he accomplish? As he says, he is “by far the most fit I’ve ever been”. Now Lewis alternates jogging and sprinting miles on his four mile runs, can easily perform two-finger one-handed push ups, and has to be careful not to kick himself in his head. As he progressed through the challenge, not only did his skills and fitness increase, but his desire to increased as well. After one particularly grueling period that he called Bruce Lee Boot Camp, he stated, “Strangely enough, the result of the boot camp series actually made me want to work out more… I feel greater than ever.” Lewis admits the program is not sustainable in the long run, but is committed to maintaining a healthy lifestyle with exercise and proper nutrition.

— —

With martial arts having no part in his day job, the concept of going to work in an office and coming home to train for four or more hours a day almost has a Fight Club essence to it. In Fight Club, Edward Norton plays a discontent office worker who forms a fight club to escape from his daily monotonous prison-life. Some people start fight clubs. Some people fight digital dragons. Emil Lewis trains with nunchaku. Lewis won’t win any martial arts competitions for a while, but that’s not the point. It’s easy to lose sight of goals amidst the day to day inertia of a comfortable routine. Lewis got mired in it for a bit, but unlike most, he sprinted, four miles a day, out of it.

Around midway through the challenge Lewis found himself at a local sports store, staring at a kung fu uniform. He wondered what place it might have in his modern lifestyle: “Will I be laughed at? Will this help anything? ” His wife wondered: “Why is it so expensive?” After some consideration he bought it, and never regretted it. “You look good”, Lewis’s wife said as he first tried it on. But not only did it look good, It kept Lewis from having to go through two changes of clothes a day, and felt great when stretching and exercising. “I felt good,” said Lewis when he first put it on, “I felt motivated. I felt like I had a purpose.”

To read more and see home videos about Emil Lewis’s Becoming Bruce Lee challenge go to