Bronze 2016 / Editorial / Personality

Portrait Of A Premonition: Our Last Afternoon With Nainai

  • Prizes
    Bronze in Editorial/Personality
  • Photographer
    Argus Paul Estabrook

The memory haunts me. And for that I feel fortunate.It had been one year since my wife and her grandmother had seen each other. While visiting her family in China, we were able to meet briefly days prior, but this afternoon had been set aside for them to reconnect. Nainai expressed great joy in seeing her favorite granddaughter again but I also noticed how her mood would fluctuate. She’d wander to various parts of her home, only to end up in the verandas to look over her town. I always imagined Nainai to be Wendy from Peter Pan; part of her youth frozen in time while Wendy’s body grew old. But now surrounded by mirrors and looking at her own reflection, she seemed preoccupied with thought. She then told me she’d become increasingly nervous about her health and worried this was the last time we’d all be together.I assured her that she was fine- but I never got to photograph or see her again. I realize now five months later that I’d shot a portrait of a premonition: Our last afternoon with Nainai.

I’m an emerging photographer currently based in Seoul, South Korea. As a Korean-American who grew up in a rural area of Virginia, I have a unique perspective of Korean identity and its relationship to both global and regional communities. I studied photography as an undergraduate, but set it aside during my MFA program at James Madison University to concentrate on intermedia. After moving to South Korea I rediscovered photography, using it as a means to document and share my experiences.