Photographer Uses Vibrant Color to Explore the Energy of Seoul at Night

Seoul Glow by Xavier Portela

Photographer Xavier Portela is back with a new addition to his Glow series. For years, Portela has been wandering city streets at night and capturing their energy through a series of stunning photographs. Often focusing on the neon-soaked atmosphere of Asian cities, he's now added Seoul to his list. For Seoul Glow, Portela spent four nights in the South Korean capital and transformed it into his playground.

As is typical with his Glow series, color is a key component. Interestingly, Portela uses color as a way to highlight the full sensory experience he had while in each city. “The colors help me to get back all the variables like the sound, the temperature, the noise, the atmosphere, and the vibe of the location,” Portela tells My Modern Met. “Glow is about how your brain remembers the place instead of how your eyes see it. The idea itself is about producing more vibrant visuals rather than just playing with colors.”

Portela used his short time in Seoul wisely. He scouted locations by day and then set out into the cold night to get the images that he was after. Unfortunately, what he wasn't expecting were the low temperatures. Glow is composed of multiple frames taken in one location that are then later merged together. Due to the freezing weather, Portela found it a challenge to take long exposures. While he was still able to capture some stunning scenes, he'd like to return again during a different season.

Still, his photos are a fascinating look at nightlife in the city. The buzz and energy of Seoul come alive through his work, and he's been encouraged by the positive feedback he's gotten from locals, which pushes him forward to explore even more cities.

Xavier Portela is known for his neon-soaked images of Asian cities.

People Walking in Seoul South KoreaEvening in Seoul, South KoreaHeadlights Streaking Down Highway in SeoulSeoul Glow by Xavier Portela

Seoul Glow by Xavier Portela
During a recent trip to South Korea, he spent several nights photographing Seoul.

South Korea at NightWoman in a Doorway in Seoul, South KoreaSeoul Glow by Xavier PortelaEvening in Seoul, South KoreaKiosk at Night in South Korea

His Seoul Glow portfolio uses vibrant color to express the energy of the city.

Cars Buzzing by Crosswalk in SeoulCar Light Streaks in SeoulEvening in Seoul, South KoreaCars Buzzing by Crosswalk in SeoulSeoul Glow by Xavier PortelaHeadlights Streaking Down Highway in SeoulPeople Walking in Seoul at Night

Xavier Portela: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Xavier Portela.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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