Fansite masters may be amateur photographers, but there’s no doubt that they’ve taken some of the best photos of your favorite idol. But if fansite photographers are so good, what’s the need for professionals? Veteran idol photographers Han Manhee and Bae Gangwoo weighed in with their opinions in a new YouTube video with AYO.
Known as “home masters” or “homma” in Korean, fansite masters are fans who attend idols’ schedules to take photos of them. They then usually post the images for everyone to view on their “fansites” (often social media pages) free of charge.
While some fansite masters have been called out for stalker-like behavior in the past, they’ve been an integral part of K-Pop fandoms for as long as most fans can remember. Of course, they’re not the only ones who take photos of idols.
Agencies also employ professional photographers like Han Manhee and Bae Gangwoo to take photos of their artists at concerts and events. Han has snapped artists like BTS and BLACKPINK’s Lisa, while Bae has worked with Wanna One, IU, and more.
But according to one AYO viewer, “home masters’ pictures are much better”, and professional photographers just get in the way. Naturally, Han Manhee and Bae Gangwoo had to weigh in with their opinions.
Isn’t this an attack?
— Han Manhee
Bae Gangwoo explained that the reason professional photographers are hired for concerts is to produce imagery that can later be used for advertisement and marketing. Such photos may later be used in everything from articles to photobooks.
But while some fans may argue that K-Pop companies could negotiate with fansite masters to buy their photos, Han Manhee said that there’s a big difference between professional photos and fansite pictures.
Fansite masters usually only take photos of their bias. The majority of fansites are dedicated to a single idol, so the owners of those fansites are dedicated to snapping the best pictures of that artist.
Professional photographers, on the other hand, capture “everything”. From the entire group to the stage itself, Han Manhee explained that he has to get photos of the whole concert experience.
In response to another viewer remark which insinuated that professional photographers and non-professionals like fansite masters are pretty much the same, Han Manhee said there’s actually a “big” difference.
I think the difference is you copy concepts by other people or you create it when you work on it.
— Han Manhee
Bae Gangwoo elaborated on how professionals and amateurs differ. While a fansite master is working with a subject that’s already been given to them, professional photographers often need to create everything from scratch—from the initial planning to the photoshoot. According to him, few non-professionals can do that perfectly.
When we take a picture, we have to consider where you get to look at first and make people think ‘I wanna have it too’ just from a picture.
— Bae Gangwoo
Of course, when it comes to concert photography, both professionals and fansite masters are often dealing with a predetermined scene. Professionals, however, have the freedom to move across the venue as needed to get the perfect angle. However, despite their best efforts to stay out of the way of fans, Bae revealed professionals are often sworn at and insulted if they spend too long blocking the audience’s view.
Ultimately, while it may be a nuisance to fans, professional photographers at concerts are simple doing their job. So, Bae Gangwoo pleaded for fans to cut them a little slack when they accidental block someone’s view for a moment.
We try hard not to be seen, and if we got in the way nonetheless… please give us a break!
— Bae Gangwoo