As Korea pre-wedding sessions get more and more popular, I’ve been able to travel to various parts of Korea including Jeju Island and Jeonju for beautiful sessions with a really different flavour from Seoul. Kim and Chris were tossing up between a session in Seoul, or traveling to the gorgeous Hanok Village in Jeonju. In the end, we decided to get a beautiful Hanok stay down in Jeonju and spend a whole day wandering the streets together.
Being a weekday, the number of tourists was limited, and we were able to see a lot of the city and work in many different environments. Having a longer session like this also means that we’re able to get the nice light at both ends of the day, and Jeonju did not disappoint. For the morning, we traversed the tourist areas sans people until the city started to wake up. Then, as things started to get busier, we grabbed a coffee and took a break for the early afternoon. Finding a beautiful (and empty!) tea-house, we started our session again for the afternoon period, and covered the other half of the town, focusing on the tight back alleys.
Jeonju is a perfect location if you’re looking to get a traditional Korean feel. Although the main areas have become extremely commercial, the side streets are still beautiful. Weekends are packed, and I don’t recommend the visit then, but weekdays are far quieter and make for a great time to visit. If you’d like to enquire about having your own couples session in Jeonju, please get in touch.
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!
I know… it’s February, and I’m just getting to this! Truth is, I’ve been hard at work re-organising my back-up system to make things more efficient this year. It also means that I have easy access to statistics about my work from the year, and can get to images a lot more easily. So, let’s start with those stats… in 2015, I shot approximately 130,000 images in 159 sessions. These total just over 4 terabytes in size. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2016 holds, but for now let’s take a look at the images from the last quarter of 2015.
We started October off with a trip to Bali for my wife’s birthday, which was a welcome break from the madness of September! The moment we dropped back into Seoul though, I joined the Orth family as they took custody of their second boy, Park. We had a great day at the agency, and then an even better one together the next day for their family session. These two loving parents and two boisterous young fellows were an absolute treat to work with again!
I then had the chance to work with my first Thai couple in Seoul, Pinky and Preaw. Battling the cool October winds off the Han River, we worked our way along and up into Yeouido park for the afternoon light. Thanks for an awesome session, guys!
Then it was on to work with the Walker, Chan, and McDonald families in some of the most beautiful autumn light I have seen in a long time. Autumn is a beautiful time in Korea, as you will see below, and in the upcoming blog posts for each of these sessions. For now, a quick look at some images from that time!
Autumn leaves were still beautiful by the time I worked with the Brooks family as they completed the adoption procress of their daughter. Although we’d moved back to Seoul’s usual overcast weather, both this session and my session with Mok and Sun still had the beautiful colours of Seoul’s autumn.
After all this work with families, it was great to see a member of my own family. My brother, Matt, came over to visit for a couple of months, and we had the chance to get out and see a little of Korea together.
Shao Wei and Edith were the next couple I got to brave the cold with! Never underestimate how cold Seoul can be if you’re coming from South-East Asia, even November can drop to 10-15 degrees, and with the wind that feels quite cold. Nevertheless, they were troopers, and a really fun couple to work with.
I then got to spend an afternoon with the Loomis family, who I had met when they visited Lori and Steve. All three children presented different challenges for me to capture them being themselves, which made the session a lot of fun! Here they are!
It was then time for the Walker family to visit again and take custody of their all-too-cute daughter Annalee. We caught the best of the morning light in their hotel room, as that was Annalee’s safe place, but as she seemed really happy, we decided to venture outside for a short while afterwards.
I also made one of my favourite frames to date at this session. Davis’ love for The Polar Express is absolutely unmatched, and he just loves trains!
Just after this, I got an assignment that reminded me of how global the world really has become. My brother Matt and I were discussing before this 7 minute shoot just how strange it was for two Australians in South Korea to be photographing a Filipino girl who had flown to Seoul for a concert, and for a Finish newspaper to boot. Quite the evening!
Next up was something completely different, bottle shots for the designer at TiwiTrade to use in his upcoming ads for Barker’s syrups. Challenging subjects to say the least!
My final two assignments for 2015 were to be very special. After working with the Orth family on their second adoption, I was overjoyed to also be working with the Anderson family as they returned with their amazing son Ezra to add a sister to the family. Lydia took some time to warm to her new family, but the smiles we did see were a sure sign of the joy to come! Ezra also had a chance to meet with his foster family, to which he proclaimed “I am a lucky boy, because I have two omma (mothers) and two appa (fathers).”
Finally, I got to work with the Sharp family again. If you go back to the very first adoption session I ever did, you will meet their son Jae. Just over three years down the road, and Jae was back in Korea with his family to meet his brother Sam. To see how much Jae had grown, and to spend time with Kala and Gary again, was the perfect way to round out 2015. Sam and Jae spent their two meetings together playing and hugging one another, and at the end waved to his family and said “See you soon.” Due to hiccups in the system, it would be a couple of months until I saw them again, but the good times were still there, and their reunion was all the more special for it. Below is that love as I witnessed it.
Thank you for coming on this journey with me! I look forward to sharing more work with you as 2016 progresses!
“Are you sure?” I asked twice when globe-trotting Singaporean couple Cowin and Michelle contacted me about a winter pre-wedding session in Korea. Needless to say that after the last couple of winters, I had my misgivings about how well a shoot would work outside. But Michelle was keen to brave the weather, and do it in style. So we lined up a date, and chose the Korean Folk Village in Yongin as our location.
For Corwin and Michelle, this was their third pre-wedding session and we all wanted to create something a little different. In previous sessions in New York City, they had worked in Central Park to create some beautiful photos amongst the greenery, but this time we would be working in a traditional Korean village in the winter. We decided to juxtapose this with western style wedding attire and a chinese inspired outfit towards the end.
Thankfully the weather wasn’t too cold, only falling below zero in the last hour or so of our shoot. The previous day, it had rained and the groundsmen were the only people to be seen that day. So, we had the whole village to ourselves. We skipped between buildings, slipping our jackets on and off, and stopping occasionally to warm our fingers over a fire pit in the many rest stops.
Corwin and Michelle could not have been more awesome, braving the cold with smiles all around. We came away with what we’d hoped for and more, and all in the freezing cold of winter. Thanks guys, and all the best with your wedding this year!
Rosanna contacted me in September looking for a Seoul pre-wedding photographer to do something “not cheesy”. Rosanna and Andrew met under what they consider fairly unlikely circumstances. In a small town in Canada where neither of them had expected anything life changing to happen. An item left at a party to be returned, a second meeting, and Rosanna and Andrew never looked back.
They have spent time apart, respectively pursuing their lives in England and Australia, before coming to Korea to continue their lives together. It was here they wanted to have their pre-wedding pictures made before the wedding in Canada. They wanted to feature Korea in the photos – a mix of old and new, the city, a bit of grit in the background, and of course some street food to boot! We decided on Jongno for our location and these were the results!
Nadya and Guhya came to me around a month ago looking for a pre wedding photographer to make some images they could share with their families.
They met here in Korea as students at Dongkuk University. He is from Indonesia, she from Kazakhstan. They met at a party and she left her camera behind when she went home, giving Guhya the perfect excuse to contact her again. They met up several times following, and the rest is history.
Yeouido Park was almost empty for our shoot, which was a huge relief as I had been in the previous Saturday to find it teeming with young couples picnicking, children playing soccer, and elderly folk listening to trot and drinking. We had free reign of the park and made use of it by jumping a few fences and getting into the lesser trodden areas of the park.
Keeping with Nadya’s ideas of having half soft and bright pictures, and half stylised urban images we made our way around the park and then down to the Han River for sunset and the blue hour.
Thanks for a great day out guys, can’t wait for the wedding!
Also, a big shout out to Damari McBride for his light ninja skills.