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Where ordinary moments are turned into special memories

While it has become second nature for many to snap away with cutting-edge smartphones, trying to find a “special moment” among the hundreds of photos stored is never easy.

Following are four studios in Seoul offering unique ways to remind patrons of their ordinary yet special moments.

(Cafe Charlee-Gangmool)
(Cafe Charlee-Gangmool)

Photo Cafe CharLee-Gangmool

A cafe from not only the outside but also the inside, Cafe Charlee-Gangmool hides two paparazzi who take pictures of lovers, friends and families relaxing at the tables.

Even with the best of phone cameras, many of us still feel uncomfortable and awkward in front of the lens, especially when told to say “cheese.” For these people, cafe owner and main photographer Charlee along with Gangmool (“river water” in Korean) take pictures of the subjects upon request -- whether it be yourself or a companion you have brought -- drinking coffee, reading, chatting or just looking out the window, as in any other cafe.

The two photographers say pictures of people looking into their phones never look so beautiful. Forgetting the presence of the two paparazzi and just being yourself, enjoying the slowness of the cafe is the best, Charlee advises.

The cafe is located in the Banpo district of Seocho, southern Seoul. Paparazzi snapshots of two people are priced at 55,000 won ($47.50).



Everyone has their own unique color that suits them best. Sihyunhada -- meaning “to manifest” -- started from this simple idea. Breaking away from dull backgrounds of gray and blue, ID pictures are turned into portraits that reflect the color of the person.

With a background of the color that best expresses you, matching clothes, accessories, hair and makeup can add to the picture’s perfection.

Reservations are a must, and contemplating “your colors” is a mandatory part of the process before coming to the studio. Thorough discussion with your photographer at Sihyunhada throughout the shoot will aid you in making the picture-perfect portrait.

Although color ID pictures have become more common than before, photographer Kim Si-hyun, 27, was among the first to start specializing in such a medium. Beginning with the main studio in Gangnam, southern Seoul, in 2016, Kim started her own brand, Recorders, last year, and now owns three more branches: in the Yongsan district of central Seoul, Daegu and Gwangju.

Prices range from 30,000 won to 200,000 won according to the type and photographers.

More information can be found at

Lighthouse Tintype Studio
Lighthouse Tintype Studio

Lighthouse Tintype Studio

Retro and analogue is back in trend, and this studio uses a photographic process right out of the 19th century.

Lighthouse Tintype Studio was the first, at least in recent times, to bring back collodion photography, a perfectly manual process of practicing photography. From preparing the wet collodion plates -- coating and sensitizing them -- to exposing them to a flash of light and finally developing them, the whole process takes at least an hour for just one photograph.

While only a single photograph results, the picture can last a century, as the varnish protects it from getting wet or discolored over time.

The studio sits in Ichon-dong of Yongsan, Seoul.

Photography fee ranges from 10,000 won to 500,000 won according to size.

More information can be found via Instagram at

Glamour Shot
Glamour Shot

Glamour Shot

Pictures taken in studios do not have to be boring or stale. In fact, at Glamour Shot, the plain background behind the subject of the picture becomes a space to draw out your imagination.

Through the teamwork of three young artists -- a photographer, an exhibition organizer and an illustrator -- Glamour Shot turns your picture into an artistic masterwork.

In this studio, you can realize your wildest visual dreams -- flying with your bare arms, landing on the moon or even riding atop your pet dog -- at least inside the photograph.

The process requires tight cooperation between the three experts and patrons, as they cooperate throughout the whole process of finding the concept, taking the picture and adding post-production elements.

Glamour Shot is undergoing renovations now and will reopen at a new studio inside at Lotte World Tower in Jamsil, Seoul, on Jan. 30.

Reservations are currently possible through the studio’s Instagram at

Prices range from 220,000 won to 440,000 won.

By Choi Ji-won (