Of all the work I do, custody photography sessions with families are still the ones that give me the most trepidation beforehand. There is so much to capture, so many emotions, and so little that can be predicted or prepared for. Nothing is as difficult to photograph or as easy to immerse myself in than one of these sessions. Working with the Ramseys for their custody day was a really rewarding experience.
Poor Gage had a bad cold and his little nose would not stop running for the whole day, but that wasn’t going to stop us from having a great time. Alisa and Beau worked hard to make sure Gage was happy and ready for his transition. This little guy was just fearless. He explored everything and played with everyone. He even loved his doctor’s visit and chomped down on the tongue depressor as she put it into his mouth, refusing to release it! He insisted on carrying his own medicine after the prescription was filled and riding in the plastic car until everyone had worked up a sweat. He showed so much love for his family and his foster family the whole time we were there, constantly jumping back and forth to play with everyone.
On the way home, a short few tears were followed by a deep sleep that got us the rest of the way to the hotel. There we explored our new surroundings and played with drums and trumpets as the family got to know each other in their new surroundings. Watching Gage’s parents work so hard to make his transition as easy as possible was special to be a part of, and we had a day-in-the-life session to come that would be an extension of this.
Thanks for stopping by to meet the Ramsey family. Join me next week for the other half of their story. Please enquire about having your own family photography session with me above.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Zebra Technologies held their APAC Summit and Partner Event at the Grand Hyatt Incheon Airport in 2016. It was a three-day affair including everything from presentations and workshops to a visit to the BMW Experience Centre for a few laps around the track. The goal of the event was to educate and entertain Zebra’s partners in the APAC region. They certainly did a great job of it. This was a really great event.
Arriving early on day one, I headed out to the golf course with the Zebra executives for a few minutes to capture the tee-off before heading over to the BMW Experience Centre to jump in the passenger seat. Although looking through the viewfinder with a wide angle lens on may not have been great for my stomach at over 200 kilometres per hour, it was great fun for all and we got some fun shots. We then headed back over to the Grand Hyatt Incheon for the welcoming dinner.
Then it was back to my hotel to edit the day’s images for a slideshow the following morning. The morning consisted of several introductions to new products and technologies before a break to get coffee and hands on time with the new products. The foyer was filled to the brim with all manner of picking and sorting systems for every industry. Demonstrations of scanners that could not only count inventory but detect if a product was facing the wrong way on a shelf. For someone outside the industry, it was really quite impressive to see what goes into these sorts of operations. Then it was time for lunch, seminars, and, of course, dinner and drinks at the end of the day.
One thing you can say about corporate event photography is that no two events are the same. This one was no exception. On day three, I was asked to make a group photo of everyone in attendance – approximately 300 people. We set this up in the foyer and chose the vantage point very early in the morning. To get this many people in, I would have to be above the crowd, so I would be perched on the spiral staircase you see above. On top of this, the are was unevenly lit and the mixed light would mean that it would be difficult to get correct colour. In the end, I opted to break out two flash heads and pop them into the white ceiling. This created an even wash of white light over the crowd and allowed me to get the shot you see below. Then we had to scoot around and get shots of each of the booths before the morning’s presentations and wrapping up the photography at lunch time.
Thanks to Lyn at Jeannetic Koncepts and Zebra Technologies for having me along again this year. It was a blast and I look forward to working with you all again soon.
As I sit here writing, it is pouring rain outside as our monsoon season begins. The rising humidity has reached its peak and now is getting an injection from the downpour that opened up a few hours ago. My balcony is ankle deep in water and I feel a longing for the nicer times of the year. So, today we’ll journey back to spring and meet the Wiesner family.
Taylor, Jeremy, and their son Parker were here during some of the most pleasant days we’ve had all year. It wasn’t too cool or too hot and the air was clear. One such day, we headed out to Changgyeong-gung together to get some family pictures to remember their time here.
Parker was all giggles and energy for our whole session. His affectionate and fun-loving personality shone through on and off camera. So, we had no troubles getting quite a few different locations into our short session.
We started in the beautiful spring grass. Seoul really comes alive for a few weeks from the end of April to the middle of May, and it seemed like a waste not to spend a few moments in the garden area of the palace while it was so beautiful.
Then we headed over to make use of the gorgeous traditional architecture. Changgyeong-gung differs from the other of Seoul’s palaces in that, for the most part, the paint is left to its own devices. Whereas Gyeongbok-gung, Changdeok-gung, and Deoksu-gung get a regular touch up, Changgyeong-gung still has some peeling paint and faded colours that give it a much more endearing feel. Coupled with the gorgeous light of late spring, we made some beautiful images on this afternoon.
Are you visiting Seoul? Please do get in touch to book your own family session while you’re here. In the meantime, please enjoy the images!
Betsy contacted me after seeing a family session I had done with some friends of hers from her son’s school. Juggling our relative travel schedules was tricky, but we finally managed to get together and organise a session for the beauty of autumn in Seoul. We got one of the last warm days of the year for this session, and Seoul did not disappoint with some spectacular autumn light for us to work in. With loving parents and energetic children to add to this, we came back with some gorgeous keepsakes for their time in Seoul.
One thing that often comes up in sessions did come up this day. The kids got hungry, and of course wanted a snack. What do we do in situations like that? We take a short break and let them have a snack. It’s better for everyone in the end. Once you lose the children to hunger or cold, you’ve lost them. They don’t really come back from that place.
Being a family photographer gives you the ability to really showcase the best in a family and record moments of joy and bonding that are unique to the genre. I believe very strongly in capturing what the children give me that day, and how they interact with their parents. My goal for each and every session is to show them at their very best and allow their personalities to shine through. Although a clean and perfect image is always in the back of my mind, if a cookie gets in hand and creates a beautiful moment, I will not try to take it away. Small details like this will allow your children to be themselves throughout the session without fear of reprimand, thus creating a natural environment for them to be themselves.
Looking for a family photographer in Seoul? Please get in touch to discuss your own session!
I’m sure we all remember our graduation, or at least parts of them, but when I got the email asking for an event photographer for the German School graduation here in Seoul, I knew what mine was missing! We have so few photos from our graduation, and so much has changed since then. I knew that I would have to make some great images throughout this day.
We started the afternoon with the school-prepared section of the event, which was the official handover of graduation certificates and well-wishing from teachers and the German community in Seoul. Once these formalities were done, a quick round of sparkling wine was had while we waited for the buses to take everyone to the next venue.
The evening portion of the event was organised by the students, who hadn’t told me what they were preparing! This involved the students giving awards to their teachers and evaluating their performance over the course of the year. It was great to see the level of comradery expressed not just amongst the small group of students, but with their teachers, as well. This was followed by some musical performances by the students, and then the photo booth they had requested.
All in all, it was a great event and everyone had a lot of fun. If you’d like to enquire about having your own graduation or other school event covered, please get in touch.
The clock ticked over and we’d blown the funding goal out of the water for our Kickstarter project. Wesley, Pablo, and I sat down for a well deserved glass of whiskey and stared out at the Han River for a couple of hours. A mixture of shock, affirmation, and fear for what was to come kept us running on adrenaline as we chatted through how far we had come. The book was ready, but little did we know how difficult it would be to print. We had made samples and contracts well in advance, and had a relationship with our printer. However, as anyone who has lived over here can tell you, nothing is ever confirmed until the last minute. In the end, it took us nearly three months to print what should have been done in a few days. But we got there, and it looks fantastic. If you haven’t got a copy yet, please support the Lai Tu Chin people by picking one up from my store!
Back to photographing families in Seoul, though! I had a great few months here that began with Faye bringing her children over to Korea for a holiday and us spending a whole day exploring the city together. From their beautiful Hanok stay to the parks all around the city, we trekked around but could not wear the kids out. Thanks for a great day, guys!
Travis and Kim Bolton were my next family session for this quarter. We headed out to Seoul forest to soak up the beautiful greens and get ourselves a few mosquito bites! Despite Kai having a rough couple of days with a virus running through his system, he perked up in the sunlight and we had a great session together.
Next up was the Mohr family. With three adopted boys, they decided to visit Korea and give their children a chance to see their birthplace as they grow up. In amongst visiting their foster families and visiting everything they could, we got to squeeze in a family session to get some portraits of the boys at Gyeongbokgung one morning. Each of the boys had such a different personality, and it was quite a challenge to get them all showing themselves in one picture, but I think the below two give you a fair idea!
The joy that is a new adoption came to my doorstep again with the Swanner family. Tara and Brandon were adding number FIVE to their family in young Chandler! We had a fantastic morning at the agency and then again when they returned to take custody of him. Tara and Brandon are inspiring parents, and their love and dedication for their children is quite overwhelming. Hope we can see you all soon!
Between all of this, it was time for some editorial work for South China Morning Post and Malaysia Airlines’ Magazine. I love this sort of work because it forces me to re-explore Seoul. After a while, the city becomes the norm, a place to live and nothing more. Working for international publications means I have to see it in its best light. It’s a great exercise in renewing your love for a place. A couple of shots from that time are below.
Of course, it also helps when you get to travel a little. I’ve spent quite a bit of time on Jeju Island this year, which despite its over-the-top development at the hands of new land owners, is still one of my favourite places in the country. The ocean all around is a calming presence, and brings you back down to earth after the mayhem of Seoul. Here is one of my favourites from my time down there.
Another favourite spot of mine is Jeonju. This beautiful little city is another example of rampant commercialisation, but pockets of beauty can still be found there as well. I spent a day with Chris and Kim photographing their pre-wedding photos in the old city. Ducking and weaving our way past the tourist hotspots to the simpler, prettier parts of town, we made some great images in the gorgeous light that the town gets courtesy of not having high-rise buildings everywhere. The following day, I squeezed in a little personal shooting time before heading back up to Seoul. Countryside Korea is wonderfully friendly and full of characters, and Jeonju is no exception.
A couple more wonderful afternoons days out with families this month would get me through to my final assignment of the quarter. Both sessions were held at Changgyeonggung, my favourite palace in Seoul because it’s so quiet and rustic. Not to mention that it’s surrounded by park land!
Last up was a job with Thermo Fisher Scientific working on their staff stories. My job was to show Tony, VP & GM of Thermo Fisher Korea, in his story of unity within Seoul. Tony’s team address some huge issues in Korea, such as air quality, which anyone who has been here can tell you about. Tony’s story revolves around getting everyone working together to solve a common problem. Thankfully, we had one of the clearest days of the year to show off their good work!
On top of all of this, I am proud to announce that my second large personal project is under way. Myself and Marco Tessiore visited Taiwan during the week of Typhoon Meranti (hardly planned, but you take what you can get!) to begin working with additional tribes practising facial tattoos in Asia. Amongst the Taiwanese aborigines, many practised facial tattoos in the past, but very few living examples remain. We visited in order to explore their culture and hear their stories. Many are now too frail to participate in our project, but of the people we were able to meet, you can see some samples below. A new site has been set up to facilitate this project, and we are looking for funding to complete a pan-Asia project of tattooed faces. Please do let us know if you are interested in helping out or know someone who might be!
Thank you again for taking the time to follow me on this journey. Next week will be the last instalment for this year. Check back then!
We left off last time at the beginning of spring and sunshine. As April warms up, we tend to getting a lot more pre-wedding photography, and this year was no different. Before getting there, though, I worked with an old client of mine Jeanetic Concepts on Zebra Technologies’ APAC conference out at Incheon’s Grand Hyatt Hotel. The three day conference was held for 300 people across the entire bottom floor of the hotel. On day 2, I was tasked with making a group shot of every single attendee. There was only one place for it, looking down from the lobby into the basement level. It took some doing to get everyone there on time, but we pulled off the biggest group shot I’ve done to date!
Then it was back out into the open to work with Kevin and Malia on their pre-wedding images. As colleagues of a couple I worked with last year, Alice and Erick, they had seen my work and wanted to squeeze in their own session before heading off to have their wedding with family back home. We met and spent an afternoon planning, all the while expecting the weather to be a beautiful spring day come shoot time. The day before, the rain started. According to the weather report, it would continue for another couple of days. I braced myself for shooting in between squalls and asked Marco Devon to come out as assistant so I could make some dramatic shots against the storm clouds. I dropped down into the subway that morning to head over to their apartment and meet them before the shoot, but when I popped back up, the rain had stopped, the clouds were parting, and we were looking at some of the clearest skies we have had all year. These were the results.
Then it was on to some fun and games with the Barch family for their first family photography session together. We had a wonderful day split between a palace and a coffee shop. Young Jude even made an effort to order for us at the cafe. All in all, a great morning with great people! I hope that you’re all well!
A few days later, I got to spend the morning with a couple of little darlings from Singapore. Despite having colds from the rapid temperature change they experienced coming to Korea at the end of winter, they were troopers, and we had a fun-filled morning at the palace near their hotel.
It’s not often I blog corporate event photography on this site, but there were a couple of events that really stood out to me in this quarter. At the end of April, ANZA Korea held their annual ball and went above and beyond even their grandest efforts. One corner that particularly stood out was the Nespresso presence. They put on an excellent show, and some fine cocktails based around their capsule coffee. A few shots from that night below!
Then it was back to family photography again with the Cradic family. Betsy and Winn had a laughter filled first meeting with Gus. It was non-stop energy and play with this little guy and even that one hour was exhausting for everyone. The Cradic family are going to be fit for life with this little fellow in their house.
Occasionally, in between all of the work, I get a few moments to explore the city of Seoul and shoot a few frames of my own. Below are a few images that I love from this quarter. Each speaks something about Seoul to me, and I hope you can appreciate where they come from as well.
No rest for the wicked, though. I slipped onto a plane that week to visit my good friends Andy and Laura Faulk in Tokyo. Good friends of mine since our time together in Seoul, Andy and Laura had asked me to come over and make some portraits of their family. How could I refuse the invitation to visit two of my best friends, the life they had created together, one of my favourite places on earth, and make photographs of it all together? I got weak at the knees. So much love for these people and for their part in my life. I hope only that the pictures I made are close to their hearts from here on out. Thank you both. Love you to bits and miss the heck out of you. It’s time for some dalkgalbi.
Dropping back into town, I soon had the opportunity to shoot with one of Korea’s premiere Hanbok designers, Lee Young-Hee on her new collection as part of a world tour she was doing. The shoot was quick, with absolutely no time for preparation or concepts as I would be working in between the video team shooting. Over the course of 5 hours, we had approximately 15 minutes to shoot as much material as possible. Below are a couple of the frames I’m happy with from the day.
I also got to spend a week with the New Zealand community as they held their New Zealand food and wine events for the year. We had some really great promotional events in Seoul and Busan as part of this effort, and needless to say, it made me a little homesick. New Zealand is about the closest thing you can get to Australia without actually being Australia, and the culture, smells, and flavours were so reminiscent of home it was hard to wipe the ear-to-ear grin off my face and concentrate on work. A big thanks to the New Zealand Embassy in Seoul and the Kiwi Chamber. On my way back up from Busan, I had an opportunity to visit my favourite brewery in Korea, Boksundoga. It is a family run business that produces the finest makkeolli on the peninsula. None of that green bottled garbage here, just quality ingredients and years of know-how. I reached out and let them know about my series of Korean artists, and they were more than happy to give me a little time before I headed back up to Seoul. A big thanks to Jason Teale for driving me out there as well!
Then it was back to family photography for the next few weeks to finish up the quarter. First, I spent a super-early morning with the Black family for Gibson’s first birthday. Being born in Korea, we took him out in a Hanbok and had a great time around their beautiful home of Yeonhui-dong. Then I got to spend a whole day with the Bailey family as they romped around Seoul with their son, before meeting up with the Cradic family again to finalise their adoption and spend another few hours together. As if things weren’t going wonderfully enough, I even got to work with my first Australian adoptive family!
But wait, there’s more! On June 20th, months of hard work culminated in an exhibition to launch my first book, Hmäe Sün Näe Ti Cengkhü Nu. On the rooftop of Mi Casa, we had almost 100 people join us throughout the night to celebrate the completion of the work and the launch of the Kickstarter. We also discovered that day that our guide’s mother was sick, and managed to raise enough money to cover her hospital bills through a last-minute raffle. Thanks to everyone for their support that night! And thanks to Wes for putting this video together!
See you next time for even more laughter and good times. Take care, everyone!
Almost exactly three years ago, I met with Brian and Lisa as they travelled to Seoul to meet the newest member of their family, Lucy. The sweet, reserved little girl we met then has since grown into a sweet, outgoing little girl, and I was absolutely beside myself when I got a message from Brian saying they were traveling again to adopt another new member of the family, Henry. Lisa and Brian invited me into their family again to document one of their first days as a family with Henry.
I knocked on the door to their accommodation in Seoul and it was opened almost immediately by Jack, with Lucy in tail. They had grown so much, Jack was almost twice Lucy’s height now, and Lucy had lost all of her baby-fat. I was instantly bombarded with questions and stories from the pair of them, as though we’d never parted. Jack’s love for the animal kingdom hadn’t diminished at all, and he had question after question about Australian animals again. Lucy had a sweet little voice of her own now, and showed me, at least once, everything she had learnt to do in the past three years. With the non-stop energy of a three-year-old, Henry tore up and down the room, carrying toys this way and that; his siblings were barely able to keep up! Lisa and Brian took their seats for a well needed rest stop, and we talked through their session. With the typhoon warning, we all agreed that sooner rather than later was a good idea, and we met a couple of days later, bright and early for their Day in the Life Session.
I walked in the door to this scene early that morning – Henry drumming on his siblings’ heads. We spent the first part of the morning darting about the apartment, pillow fighting, dancing, and occasionally crossing the line to play with someone elses toys! Grabbing the opportunity to take it slow, Brian and Lisa watched from a distance as the children bonded and entertained themselves with anything and everything.
We then took the subway over to Gyeongbok-gung to let the children explore some of Korea’s history. Henry’s love for running was as evident outside as it was in, and we had a great time chasing each other up and down the palace alleys, and kicking the ball in the grassy fields out back.
We grabbed a bite to eat before heading over to our family location, Children’s Grand Park. We played here until it was clear that the forecast rain was going to come soon. By the time we got back onto the train, the children were exhausted, so we’d probably made a good call there as well. To round up the evening, we took a quick group shot in the ever increasing wind, and parted ways.
Please get in touch to enquire about your own family session in Seoul or anywhere in Korea.
Sherlyn contacted me from Singapore back in March enquiring about doing a short pre-wedding shoot during her visit to Seoul. She and Yao, unbeknownst to me, have been shooting a series of photographs with different teams and photographers in the lead-up to their 2016 wedding. Much of this can be seen on Sherlyn’s wedding blog. They would only be here for a short time during the busiest month of the year, but we managed to schedule in a couple of hours to work together at Yeouido Park, and then down on the Han River at Yeouido.
We’ve had some extremely fickle weather of late, but on this day, everything lined up perfectly. It was a warm day, warm enough for folk from the equatorial region to be comfortable during the shoot. Not only that, but the previous week’s clouds and rain cleared for a calm, bright afternoon. It honestly couldn’t have been better.
Earlier that day, Sherlyn and Yao had rented hanboks (Korean traditional garb) for the shoot, and that through a beautiful spin on what was already a gorgeous day for photography. Yao had practiced tieing the ribbons for Sherlyn’s hanbok quite a few times at the rental store, and got it perfect the first time. Once we were changed and ready to go, we moved through the park, finding spaces between the parks visitors to stop and shoot in the streaming sunlight.
The weeping willows around the park’s like provided a beautiful frame, and the whimsically growing pines a touch of Korea to add to the couple’s gowns.
It was hard to tear ourselves from Yeouido park, with it’s beautiful forests and gorgeous light, but we made our way down to the Yeouido Han River Park for a different aesthetic in some more modern garb. Freshly bloomed tulips, and the stark, modern architecture of Seoul provided us with a setting at odds with where we had been shooting a few minutes prior. Shooting in the golden light until the sun had dipped below the horizon, we wrapped with some geometrical frames to round out the session.