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

Dell Wasabi Printer – Travel Photographer

As we were planning our trip to South East Asia last year, my wife and I began talking about what we could do during our trip to repay the kindness of strangers that so very often comes your way when traveling. Travel often involves gaining experiences we couldn’t get at home and bringing them back to share with our people. We wanted to leave behind memories that would last and constantly remind the people that we met of our shared experiences, just as our photographs would do for us when we got home. So why not give those photographs to these people then and there?

The Printer

I did some research and came across a lot of different options for printing 4×6 prints on the road, but these printers were just far to bulky and heavy to carry around for the three months we’d be walking around South East Asia. In the end I came across the Polaroid Pogo printer, which led me to the Dell Wasabi. Neither of these produce the quality of a dedicated 4×6 photo printer, but we didn’t need that sort of quality. All we needed was a small printer that would allow us to hand out memories on paper.

We went with the Dell in the end (Wasabi vs. Pogo? The choice was easy.), and took about 200 sheets of paper with us. A couple of hours on charge and this little guy gave us between 10 and 15 prints, depending on the resolution of the files – transfer times tend to drain the battery significantly. This was perfect for a day out traveling. If we made a portrait at any point during the day, we printed it immediately and gave it to the subject then and there. We could not have prepared ourselves for the reaction these prints would get, however.

The First Print

We took the printer out for the first time after making a portrait of the young man who made our breakfast at Indein Market, Inle Lake, Myanmar. He smiled widely as I handed him the print, and ran off across the marketplace and handed it to a woman I guess was his mother. He returned to his duty shortly after and we ordered another bowl of his noodles. As we ate, we noticed that the print was making its way around the market, and people began waving to us from every direction. The print finally made its way to the elderly woman who had been sitting on the other side of the noodle broth tending to the tea that comes with all meals in Myanmar. She regarded the print, returned it to the boy, and gestured me over. She wanted a photograph as well. She was smoking the handmade cigars that seem to be the staple diet for the older generation at Inle Lake, and I made her portrait with the cigar as you see below. After receiving the print, she quickly put it on the table and thanked us with a smile and a nod. We sat down to finish our breakfasts, and once we looked away, she carefully picked up the print and continued to regard it for the duration of our meal before tucking it safely into her breast pocket and waving us goodbye.

Portraits of Myanmar – Travel Photography

Myanmar has a reputation for its beatiful sunrises and sunsets, its never-ending plains of temples, crimson robed monks, and the reflective waters of Inle Lake. But the people, aside from being ridiculously friendly and welcoming, are beautiful. Below you will see a small selection of portraits from Myanmar. These are carvers, cooks, children, market stall owners, weavers, teachers, farmers, seamen and book sellers. From my short time in country, these are the portraits of Myanmar.