Year in Review – Part 1 – Seoul, Korea Photographer

Yet another year has passed here in Seoul. It was a big one for me as a photographer and it seems to have gone by particularly quickly. Maybe it’s the amount of work I’ve been doing, maybe it’s the trips I’ve taken for Tattoos of Asia, or maybe I’m just starting to get old. Whatever it is, this has been a whirlwind year at WelkinLight Photography and I’d like to share some of it with you today. As always, I’ll start with highlights from the Seoul winter in January and February, followed by the beginning of spring in March. Somewhere in between, I’ll take a few trips to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

 

January – Family and Travel Photographer

The year started, quite literally, with a family photography session out on Nami Island. January 1st is not often a date I get asked for in Seoul. For most, it’s just too cold and, for many others, too painful. Not for Gloria and her family! We all made our way out to Nami Island and spent an hour running, jumping, hiding, playing, laughing, and of course, sipping warm beverages. A couple of my favourites from that session are below.

Family Photographer - Seoul, Korea

Family Photographer - Seoul, Korea

Next up was a session that had been in the works for a while. These two lovely ladies were in Seoul for a week or so and we managed to schedule a couple of hours to take in some of Seoul’s urbanity, tradition, and nature together. With Seoul being a fairly conservative place, I don’t get to do a lot of LGBT sessions and this was a great breath of fresh air from my usual sessions. We took to the back streets of Jongno and Euljiro for some urban grit and then headed over to Gyeongbokgung to use the gorgeous architecture and evergreen pines. One of the benefits of having your session in the holiday week and freezing cold is that there are very few other people around. Thanks again for an awesome session!

Couple Photographer LGBT - Seoul, Korea

Couple Photographer LGBT - Seoul, Korea

Couple Photographer LGBT - Seoul, Korea

What would a couple of weeks back in Seoul before heading out on winter holiday be without some Jongno Gentlemen. Marco and I headed out to track down and make portraits of these fixtures of the Seoul landscape again. Despite the cold, we managed to stop several dapper gents for portraits in the streets of Jongno. Check out the rest of the series on Facebook.

Seoul, Korea Editorial Photographer

Then, well, let’s be honest, the winter got to be too much. My youngest brother was about to start his final year of secondary school as well, so we decided to go on a trip together. We picked Cambodia and Vietnam for our adventure and started with the city of Angkor. As usual, the smiles and warmth of the Cambodian people were a joy to be around and we could have stayed a lot longer than we did. But alas, we had to go and meet Jeehe over in Vietnam to enjoy yet another country full of warm smiles and, well, some of the best food in Asia.

Angkor - Cambodia Travel Photographer

Hoi An

Hoi An - Vietnam Travel Photographer

 

February – Travel, Band, and Couple Photographer

While I was away, we had worked on finalising the placement for my intern Jonne to fly into Seoul from the Netherlands. At the last minute, we confirmed everything and she would be flying in on the 7th of February. As we had confirmed this so late in the game, I had already booked my flights to Laos for my Tattoos of Asia project. I would be leaving just 4 days after Jonne’s arrival, so I asked if she would like to come. We ended up meeting in Seoul and then flying straight to Laos a couple of days later for a week-long ride through the countryside in search of the Brao people. It was a pretty good introduction to the way things go around here, I think. We also took my book with us, which was a hit. The similarity in facial structure and the fact that another people have facial tattoos led to the question, “Are they also Brao?” a lot.

Tattoos of Asia - Laos Travel Photographer

Tattoos of Asia - Laos Travel Photographer

Tattoos of Asia - Laos Travel Photographer

The day after I flew back into Seoul, I met up with a local band, Wooden Lucy, to shoot some promo work for their album release. It’s always a good time when you can shoot gritty black and white for a change. We had a great time and pulled off some fun images of the band in a few different locations. After that, there was another last-minute confirmation that took us out into the streets of Seoul for a surprise proposal and then some braving the winter with Albert and Logan. After being in South East Asia for a few weeks, this day was even cold for me, but I don’t know how everyone else did it. None of them were ready for the cold of a Seoul winter.

Band Photography in Seoul

Band Photography in Seoul

Proposal Photographer - Seoul, Korea

Couple Photographer - Seoul, Korea

 

March – Food, Hotel, and Family Photographer

I had the pleasure of working with Chef Ryu at Ryunique on some clean and simple dish shots for his social media presence after this. It’s been great to see those used over and over again in magazines and websites. His beautiful plating makes the job easy, that’s for sure! After that, I found some time to do one more thing I love before the busy season kicked in – I hit the streets to document some more of Seoul before the gentrification makes every street corner look the same.

Ryunique - Seoul, Korea Food Photographer


Seoul documentary photography

Seoul documentary photography

Seoul documentary photography

Then it was time for the busy season to start again. March is when everything ramps up. To really get things rolling were a couple of families I have worked with in the past. The Visingards were back to visit their son’s foster family and spend some more time exploring Seoul. I got to spend a few hours with them as they reconnected with the foster family again. The Tsongs were up next. I was with them when they took custody of Daniel as well, and this time we scheduled a session of fun in Seoul’s Changgyeonggung during their short visit.

Visingard Family - Seoul, Korea Photographer

Visingard Family - Seoul, Korea Photographer

Tsong Family - Seoul, Korea Photographer

Then I had the pleasure of working with the Bolenders as they prepared to leave Seoul. We met just about a year prior when their son was born for some photos with the whole family, and this time we got together for a Day in the Life documentary session as they were leaving Seoul. We had an absolute blast eating several breakfasts, playing in the washing basket, and eventually heading out for a walk around the city. Lots of fun to be had. To wrap up March, I worked with the Italian Chamber of Commerce for their AGM and work with the New Seoul Hotel on their new promotional shots.

Italian Chamber of Commerce - Event Photographer

The Bolenders - Family Photographer

The Bolenders - Family Photographer

New Seoul Hotel - Commercial Photographer

New Seoul Hotel - Commercial Photographer

That’s all for the first quarter of the year. Come back next week for plenty of families, couples, a ball, and some time with the BBC. Until then, have a great week!

Couple Photographer – Leah and Preston

I had the pleasure of spending the day with Leah and Preston back in May before they left Korea this time around. After a couple of years give-or-take on their tour of the peninsula, they were regretfully finished with their time here, and wanted to capture some photographs of themselves that would remind them of it. We chatted over coffee and came up with a style that would work for an already married couple; one that would not include standing at the palace gates in the rain with an umbrella at any point, we decided. Leah shared with me a collection of photos of the areas of Korea they both liked, and we worked out a schedule to squeeze everything in to a single day.

Somewhere between excessive neon lights and houses made without nails lies the Korea we know and love, and we set out to capture images with a well rounded look at the various aspects of Seoul. Leah and Preston’s journey up to the capital was always a long one and usually made on the subway, so we started there and took ourselves through Samcheong-dong, Bukchon, and some back streets in Jongno. We even managed to get in the We Are Young art that has become such a draw in the Samcheong-dong area.

Had a blast working with these guys. I hope everyone enjoys the photos!

 

Korea Pre Wedding Photographer

Korea Pre Wedding Photographer

Korea Pre Wedding Photographer

Korea Pre Wedding Photographer

Seoul Pre Wedding Photographer

Seoul Pre Wedding Photographer

Seoul Pre Wedding Photographer

Seoul Pre Wedding Photographer

Seoul Couple Photographer

Seoul Couple Photographer

Seoul Couple Photographer

Seoul Couple Photographer

Seoul Couple Photographer Seoul Couple Photographer

Seoul Couple Photographer

Jeju Island Pre Wedding – Sook & Maui

Jeju Island; what an idyllic location for a pre wedding shoot. Rolling mountains, vast oceans, clear blue skies. Certainly some of Korea’s most beautiful landscapes. Sook was also notably excited about the prospect. She contacted me a year out to book this shoot. Sook and Maui, being fans of natural scenery, were keen to include a lot of Jeju Island’s picturesque landscapes in their frames. We set to work planning an afternoon on Udo, a small island off the Seongsan coast.

I arrived two days in advance to scout the island and get my bearings again after a couple of years not visiting Jeju. Two wheels being my preferred mode of transport, I booked a scooter with ample room for my equipment and headed down to Jeju.

As luck would have it, the day I arrived, so did the rains. Droplets the size of marbles greeted me as I pulled out of the rental shop. Never mind, it should let up by tomorrow, Mr. Lee told me. The rains eased by morning, but the howling winds kept the ocean turbulent and all ferries to Udo were canceled that day. I spent the evening in Google street-view instead.

Come the following morning, while our makeup artist Natasha and Sook were working on makeup, Maui and I took a drive down to the port to check on the ferry situation. I inquired with the ticket salesman about the number of cars, and he said that on most days he could give an estimate of when we’d be able to get a ferry. But, with the cancellations the previous day, he wasn’t even sure we’d be able to get a ferry before late afternoon. We decided somewhat reluctantly that our time would be better spent on the main island of Jeju. I had somewhat expected this after the ferry cancellations and had scouted several locations close by our hotels as a backup.

And so we began. Sook and Maui were a great couple to work with; playful, fun, and willing to work with me on my whims – like standing in the ocean for a shot. Being from Malaysia, the cool spring winds were a little much at times, and I think they were glad for the respite of the car when we changed locations.

As no Korean experience would be truly complete without coffee at one of the chain stores (and we all needed a coffee!), we started in an empty cafe, then moved to the seaside the catch some of the early afternoon sun. With a view of Seongsan Sunrise Peak in the background, we started to really show Jeju’s beautiful scenery.

From there we drove back to Sunrise Peak and made use of the cove next to the Haenyeo House, and the setting sun with Hallasan. We could not have been luckier at sunset. Two days of rain had cleared the air, giving us perfect visibility of Hallasan and the Oreum, leaving us with some great final shots at Sunrise Peak.

Thanks again for a great day out, Sook & Maui! All the best with your wedding!

Please take a look at more of my pre wedding sessions, and if you’re looking to have your own pre wedding or engagement photographed, get in touch!

Korea Pre Wedding Photographer

Korea Pre Wedding Photographer

Korea Pre Wedding Photographer

Jeju Island Pre Wedding Photography

Jeju Island Pre Wedding Photography

Jeju Island Pre Wedding Photography

Jeju Island Pre Wedding Photographer

Jeju Island Pre Wedding Photographer

Korea Island Pre Wedding Photography

Jeju Island Pre Wedding Photographer

Jeju Island Pre Wedding Photographer

Vanessa and JR – Seoul Lifestyle Photographer

Vanessa and JR recently visited Seoul from Singapore. Vanessa had been here before on exchange, but it was her and JR’s first trip to Seoul as a couple. They wanted to make some lifestyle portraits that would showcase their love for each other and their trip to Seoul. Vanessa told me straight up that they were a fun and outgoing couple and that they wanted to have that shine through in the pictures. We picked an afternoon during their short visit to Seoul to capture their date in Samcheong-dong and Bukchon Hanok Village. The looming weather worried us all week, but the rains stopped minutes before we met and we were free to put our umbrellas away for the evening. We did get out our panda hoodies, though!

Colin and Sara – Seoul Wedding Photographer

In the winter of 2011, Colin and Sara got in touch with me about doing some post wedding photography to add to their album made by their previous wedding photographer back in the United States, and commemorate their time in Seoul, Korea as it came to an end.

Colin is also an excellent photographer (you can see his work on his website), and had a location in mind that he and Sara would like to use for their shoot – Seoul Arts Center. I had 20 or  so ideas scribbled in my notebook from my scouting session. I had planned all sorts of crazy situations to put these two in, but they had ideas of their own, and we ended up weaving the session together as it went along. Like an engagement photography session, the focus was to be on these two enjoying their time together, and that’s what we did.

The weather was cold, and the bureau had said it wasn’t likely to break before Colin and Sara left Korea. So we picked a day that looked like it would be above freezing and set out to shoot. Korean weather is always full of surprises, and our surprise today was 15 centimetres of snow and -2 degrees. But, we powered on and stopped for coffee too thaw our extremities from time to time.

One of the great things about being a photographer is the people you meet – Colin and Sara have become two of my best friends despite the fact that we now live more than 10,000 kilometres apart!