2016 Year in Review Part 1 – Seoul Photographer

This year has been a roller coaster ride in every respect, and a wonderful one at that. Last year was my busiest to date, and I was glad to be scheduling some time at the beginning of 2016 to work on a personal project again. Despite 2016 being a little quieter than 2015, there was still plenty happening and a lot of changes. As per usual, this blog will be set out into 4 parts, covering the four quarters of the year to give some breathing room to the pictures. So, without further delay…

Before taking off on my personal project with Wesley Chang, I had a few families flying in that I would be working with. The very first family I ever worked with on an adoption, the Sharp family, were flying in to take custody of their second wonderful boy, Sam. It was so wonderful to see them, and to spend time with Jae, their first son. It was the Sharps’ decision to reach out and work with me on that first visit to Korea that shaped the direction for my photography from then on. They opened my eyes to something I didn’t even know was possible, and I fell in love with the process right away. A big thanks to Kala and Gary for that, and I look forward to seeing you and the boys again next year!

Family Photographer in Seoul

Family Photographer in Seoul

Family Photographer in Seoul

Family Photographer in Seoul

I also had the chance to work with another family I had met through their first adoption as well, the Andersons. The cheeky little ball of sweetness that is Ezra was coming back to meet his sister this time, and we would spend quite some time together during their long visit. This job that I do does not only get me access to the most intimate times in a family’s journey, but introduces me to friend after friend during the process. Dan and Ester have been such a blessing to meet, and I hope that it’s not too long before our paths cross again.

Family Photographer in Korea

Family Photographer in Korea

That was the beginning of January, then I was off to New Zealand for a friend’s wedding for a few days before flying to Myanmar to begin my personal project. This was something that came about during my visit to Mrauk U last year, and grew and changed in my mind until it was ready to be realised. I set out to create a book that would be able to sustainably assist in providing primary education and drinking water for a group of people called the Lai Tu in Rakhine State. I mentioned the project to Wesley Chang, who decided he would come along to make video during the journey. He in turn introduced me to Pablo Fuentes Gomez, who would come to design the final book and promotional materials for the project.

We set off on a 3 week journey up and down the Lemro River and its tributaries in Rakhine State. Somewhere between 20cm long centipedes, feral dogs, military and police escorts, and a few cases of food poisoning, we managed to make our way back home with around 500gb of footage and stills to work into this huge project. After three months of solid work, we launched our Kickstarter campaign with an exhibition in Seoul. The turnout was more than we could have expected, and the level of support humbled us completely. Below are a few images from the journey and the book, which is available from my personal site.

Fine Art Photographer - Myanmar

Fine Art Photographer - Myanmar

Lai Tu Chin Fine Art Photographer - Myanmar

Behind the scenes by Wesley Chang Photo

Lai Tu Chin Fine Art Photographer - Myanmar

Lai Tu Chin Fine Art Photographer - Myanmar

Lai Tu Chin Fine Art Photographer - Myanmar

Lai Tu Chin Fine Art Photographer - Myanmar

Behind the Scenes by Wesley Chang Photo

Lai Tu Chin Fine Art Photographer - Myanmar

Lai Tu Chin Fine Art Photographer - Myanmar

Returning from this journey was quite a shock, but I had a few days to get my head back into city life before a few more family sessions and a menu update for Mi Casa in Itaewon. First up was the Delk family. We spent a short while in their hotel room before heading out to play on the grass at Changgyeonggung for a while. It was a fun session with this cute little lady, who was super brave and embraced the day with us.

Seoul Family Photographer

Then, I had a short session with the Maisami family as they were preparing to leave Seoul. We had a great day out in the park riding our bikes, chasing birds, and getting dad on all the children’s rides. I feel like the below image really sums up the outing we had in its closeness and silliness. What a wonderful day.

Seoul Family Photographer

Of course, then came that time of year when Mi Casa updates their menu and we come up with a new concept to display their food in all its glory. Not to mention, everyone takes their belts off at the beginning of the day, as it would be a crime to let this wonderful food go to waste. This time around, we decided to make the menu a lot more visual by laying all the dishes out together with their ingredients. With this in mind, we had a huge background custom made, and set up the scene to show the food as graphically as possible. If you haven’t been there, head over to Mi Casa for some of the finest Spanish food around.

Seoul Editorial Food Photographer

My final session for this quarter was with the Foote family. We began our Day in the Life session as the sun was coming up, and worked all the way through the day. The golden light of sunset was when I got a couple of my favourite frames from this year. Here they are.

Seoul Family Photographer

Seoul Family Photographer

Personal Work: Fine Art Portrait

As a working photographer it is all too easy to get caught up in working on jobs and forget to nurture the creative side. As much as we love to create for others and complete jobs to the highest standard we are capable of, every job needs professional development from time to time. For us that comes in the form of personal work. Creating for the sake of creating is a great way to remind ourselves why we are in this craft we love so much. It also gives us the opportunity to learn new techniques or play with a new piece of gear.

This shoot came to me one morning last week as I was sipping my coffee and finishing a chapter of my book. I didn’t live in Seoul at that time, I lived in a forest filled with magic and dreams. I decided then and there to make an image of that feeling. Three days later, I had organised to shoot with Jaymie and my good friend Andy.

We met at Olympic Park in Seoul with a rough idea of what we were going to do, a camera, a tripod, a book, a lantern, and a cup of coffee each. From here we set about piecing together the image you see below. Sitting Jaymie on the picnic rug, I began collecting vines and leaves to place all around her. We then decided to tie up her hair using a piece of twine I had with me. Two guys attempting to achieve this must have been quite comical to any onlooker, but in the end Andy brought out his inner hair-stylist.

From here it was a case of lighting Jaymie and the lantern. The lantern is lit by an SB800 powered to 1/128 sitting behind it with a full CTO gel attached. Jaymie is lit by another SB800 at 1/16 power in an SMDV Diffuser 70 to camera right. I have been wanting to try the new Diffuser 70 for a while and learned quite a lot about it from this shoot – review pending! We then took Jaymie out of the frame and tossed leaves and pages all around to be composited into the frame in post.

This shoot gave me the freedom to put together each piece of the puzzle as I saw fit and create the image I had in my mind. It was a great excercise that I think we all need to do more often.

Seoul Fine Art Photographer: Personal Work