Seung Kye Lee
2008 Photo Contest Honorable Mention

“For me, photography is as much of an inner journey as of an outer experience.”


Mountain Spirit

The Beacon

Seung Kye Lee

Experience a slideshow of Seung Kye Lee's photos from across the globe.

See Lee's Work »

Dedicating much of his life to reflection, spiritual growth and maintaining a humble sense of his place in the natural world, photographer Seung Kye Lee offers a glimpse into the soul of the landscapes he photographs. One sees the balance and harmony that lies within each scene, everything as it was meant to be — fulfilling its destiny. Perhaps Lee is offering the viewer more than a meditative scene, but also a glimpse into his soul, as he works to fulfill his own destiny.

Adopted at age 5, Seung Kye Lee moved from Seoul, South Korea to Norway, his adoptive parents’ homeland. At age 10, he spent a year living on the Faroe Islands, situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. It was here, on these rugged and rocky islands, that Lee first experienced the power of the natural world. “I became aware of the liberating feeling of being outdoors,” he says. “Now I’m 36 years old and still remember the unique moors, vividly saturated green grass and coastlines.”

The Faroe Islands offered up harsher lessons as well. “I also witnessed traditional whale hunting, and that was one of my first real wildlife experiences. I was terrified by the sea colored red as I stood beside one of the whales that had been killed. I remember when I went to bed that night, I cried so much it hurt for a long time,” says Lee. “I do believe that experiences like these in my younger age have had a huge impact on how I feel about our mother nature today and on my lifestyle in general…my view on the environment and our seemingly small, but very important roles as individuals living in harmony with nature will always be firm.”

Lee’s interest in photography began as little more than an escape from boredom, while his efforts were focused on a career as a musician. “At one point, I discovered the reflective, meditative state of mind — the result of viewing the world through a camera,” says Lee. “Observing the light, observing the details opened my mind for subtle impressions….If it were not for the meditative state of mind I get even before I click the shutter, photography would not be of any interest for me."

The inner reflection he found through photography drove him to seek a new path. For six years leading him into his early 30’s, Lee lived in a Buddhist temple and practiced to become a Buddhist monk. “During that time, I did not make a single photograph,” Lee states. “But when I returned to the ordinary world (as we call it) my photography took a certain direction, and I new exactly what I wanted to photograph.”

The landscape of Rondane National Park had first attracted Lee a number of years earlier.

“When you walk on snow in the middle of a hot summer and see mountain peaks kissed by the sun at four in the morning, it is not only the beauty that you remember,” says Lee. “It`s the intense feeling of connection with the earth, understanding of the natural environment and a particular peace of mind that never can be experienced in our busy, daily life."

Though Rodane provides Lee with seemingly endless inspiration, he hopes that one day he can visit the Arctic, Iceland and Argentina.

Dramatic landscapes like these are a universal language. “I want people to taste the nature, feel the light, when they look at my photography,” Lee says. “The subjects of landscape photography can be shared no matter where you live, age or social status."

To learn more about our past Photo Contest honorable mentions, finalists and winners, like Seung Kye Lee — 2008 honorable mention, Steve S. Meyer — 2009 finalist, Billy Dodson — 2007 winner and Carol Grant — 2009 winner check back here next month.

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