Meet Nell Brown – Seoul Photographer – Part 3

“She’s not the same girl you met in the summer, is she?” Mary Leigh posted to me. Indeed she is not. Nell has come forward in leaps and bounds. She is energetic, loving and full of personality. Watching her current family session vicariously through family instagram posts, I was extremely envious of their photographer. Nell was as open and active as her brothers, and that’s saying something! Part of me wishes I was there to capture that part of their story as well, but Nell is a cool 11,151km away with her new family.

Our own short session here in Seoul took quite a bit more convincing to get Nell involved. Her word of the day was kaja, and did not want to leave the safety of Mary Leigh’s arms. It was two days before her birthday, and continuing family tradition, we had set out to capture some photographs of her in this place at this time. We managed a frame or two in between moving from location to location as Nell pointed them out to us.

Sweets, milk, and all the things that Nell usually loved could not bring her back. Even the photo of her that I printed on the spot only got a short smile before we were back on our kaja adventure. In the end we found that she liked to throw a ball and managed a solid 3 minutes in one location with Nell opening up to us a little.

We had a difficult time that day, and it was understandable. Nell was adjusting to her new situation, and that can’t have been easy for her. Knowing that we were possibly pushing her a little too much, and that more importantly she may simply need some time to process, we called the session short and Mary Leigh took Nell home. She went to sleep in the 5 minute taxi ride home, obviously exhausted and in need of some down time.

To see her now, you wouldn’t know this girl, or how difficult this time must have been for her. She has made a wonderful transition to her new family and is finding herself anew.  The bombardment of smiles and short videos of her progress that keep coming my way keep me acutely aware of what a wonderful thing adoptive families are doing, and how lucky I am to be a part of these stories.

Cannot wait for the chance to see the Browns again! Thanks and all the best to Nell, Brodie, Bates, Nick and Mary Leigh. See y’all soon!

Seoul Family Photographer

Seoul Family Photographer

Seoul Family Photographer

Seoul Family Photographer

 

 

Meet Nell Brown Part 2 – Seoul Photographer

It’s been a while since my last update here, as there’s been a lot on the back-burner here. The constant stream of Nell updates that flows through my social media reminds me daily that I need to finish this story. So, here it is. Part 2 of meeting Nell in Seoul.

I mentioned last time how much this assignment made me remember the importance of what I do as a photographer, and the second session was no different from the first. Capturing Bates leading Nell cautiously through the playground for the first time and the first flower Nell’s mother picked for her. These moments are why what we do is important; being able to hold those memories in still frames to keep forever.

Today’s session started out with Nell pouring over the photos from our last session with her family. Her love photographs of herself clearly evident. As we walked to the park, stopping to sniff a flower here or there, small gestures of trust on Nell’s part were made in the form of brief handholding and smiles from the arms of her foster mother again.

The playground was too much to resist, however. She quickly made her way down and began to play on everything with her family. The seesaw got a short innings, before heading for the slide and walking with Bates around the perimeter. This was all too much in the end, and Nell sat down for a carton of milk almost as big as herself. Poking a straw straight into the carton, she was content to just sip away and watch the other children play.

We snatched her up for a quick family photo at the end, which she was not entirely thrilled about, but we managed a frame before she decided it was time to leave. With her favourite word, kaja (let’s go), she was off. Again, all too soon, we watched Nell take her leave – this time she blew a kiss on her way down the path.

Seoul Family Photographer

Seoul Family Photographer

Seoul Family Photographer

Seoul Family Photographer

Korea Family Photographer

Korea Family Photographer

Korea Family Photographer

Korea Family Photographer

Nell - Seoul Photographer

Nell - Seoul Photographer

Nell - Seoul Photographer

Nell - Seoul Photographer

Nell - Korea Photographer

Nell - Korea Photographer

Nell - Korea Photographer

Nell - Korea Photographer

Lawson’s Adoption – Seoul Family Photographer

Lawson appeared on my Facebook page last month as a silhouette. It was difficult to resist the urge to share this adoption story right away, but rules will be rules! He is now safely home with his family in the United States, and I can finally share their joy with you.

Josh and Elizabeth had been in the process of adopting for a long time, jumping through the various hurdles required for the process. They were finally matched with Lawson on their 5th wedding anniversary. Imagine their joy when that call came in. Fast forward two years and we were having a cup of coffee on the ground here in Seoul, getting ready for their first meeting with their son.

We had been told that Lawson could be a little shy around strangers, and the moment he recognised Josh and Elizabeth, he hid in his foster mother’s arms. It took quite a bit of coaxing, and Josh’s drawing skills from his experience as an animator, but Lawson came out of his foster mother’s arms to make a game of erasing his father’s pictures and join in the illustrations.

Lawson’s sweet and playful nature came out as he joined another girl on the glockenspiel, followed by opening and closing his water bottle repeatedly with both of his parents and instigating a game of hide and seek with his father.

The meeting was over too soon, but the wait was not too long. “We’re coming next week,” said the next email I got. We organised to meet at Deoksugung and capture a few moments of this family together in Seoul before they headed back home to the US.

Seoul Family Photographer - Lawson's Adoption

Seoul Family Photographer Lawson's Adoption

Seoul Family Photographer Lawson's Adoption

Seoul Family Photographer Lawson's Adoption

Seoul Family Photographer Lawson's Adoption

Seoul Family Photographer Lawson's Adoption

Seoul Family Photographer Lawson's Adoption

Seoul Family Photographer Lawson's Adoption

Lawson's Adoption in Seoul - Family Photographer

Lawson's Adoption in Seoul - Family Photographer

Lawson's Adoption in Seoul - Family Photographer

Lawson's Adoption in Seoul - Family Photographer

Lawson's Adoption in Seoul - Family Photographer

Lawson's Adoption in Seoul - Family Photographer

Lawson's Adoption in Seoul - Family Photographer

Seoul Documentary Photographer - Lawson's Family

Seoul Documentary Photographer - Lawson's Family

Seoul Documentary Photographer - Lawson's Family

Seoul Documentary Photographer - Lawson's Family

Seoul Documentary Photographer - Lawson's Family

Seoul Documentary Photographer - Lawson's Family

Seoul Documentary Photographer - Lawson's Family

Lawson's Adoption - Seoul Documentary Family Photographer

Lawson's Adoption - Seoul Documentary Family Photographer

Lawson's Adoption - Seoul Documentary Family Photographer

Lawson's Adoption - Seoul Documentary Family Photographer

Lawson's Family Session - Deoksugung, Seoul

Lawson's Family Session - Deoksugung, Seoul

Lawson's Family Session - Deoksugung, Seoul

Lawson's Family Session - Deoksugung, Seoul

Lawson's Family Session - Deoksugung, Seoul

Lawson's Family Session - Deoksugung, Seoul

Lawson's Family Session - Deoksugung, Seoul

Lawson's Family Session - Deoksugung, Seoul

Lawson's Family Session - Deoksugung, Seoul

 

 

Patience, or How to Catch a Monk

When we think about patience in photography, possibly the first thing that comes to mind is landscape photography; a lone photographer waiting hours for the perfect light. With digital photography, patience has been taken out of the process almost entirely, and more often than not a quick snap is all that is made of a scene. And often times this is enough, but when we are trying to make a longer lasting piece of art rather than a memory, patience often comes into play. The old saying is that patience is a virtue, as the subject of the image below will be able to tell you at length. All good things come to those who wait. And I waited.

Of all the temples here in Seoul, Gisangsa is one of my favourites, and spending time there when the light it right is a treat. Seeing the almost symmetrical nature of this temple building, I instantly saw my frame. Bringing the camera to my eye, I made a quick test. Too much on the top and bottom made me switch to 16:9 crop so I would get a longer, more cinematic frame. The Fujifilm x-t1’s viewfinder automatically applies the crop. It’s a great feature that allows you to see exactly what you will get in situations like this.

That was the simple part. But, like temples all over Korea this one was heavily touristed. I needed an interesting subject to make the photo stand out. A crowd of people taking photos wasn’t going to do that. And so I waited. About 20 minutes later, the orange-robed head monk began his rounds of the temple, preparing it for the evening meditation. I watched him opening each of the doors and checking that it was latched correctly, and ducking in between visitors to the temple as he made sure everything was in order. Those who would join the meditation went inside, and others moved aside as the time drew closer. After one last round, the monk climbed the stairs and I knew I had my frame.

Nothing technical was the key to this photograph. It could have been made with a phone camera. The key here was knowing there was a photograph to be made and waiting it out.

Monk - Seoul Photographer

Ezra’s Family – Seoul Photographer

Last time, we met Ezra and his parents Ester and Dan. Ester and Dan are one of the few couples lucky enough to be able to stay in Korea during the entire adoption process, and get to know their son as well as the system allows. As we saw last time, Ezra bonded quickly with them and was more than happy to assist in their moving process. Dan’s fun-loving nature, and Ester’s outpouring of love gave him a very easy transition and we were able to meet up for our family session two days later.

We arrived early at Changgyeonggung in order to miss the crowds and the forecast rain. Things got off to a great start, and we let Sihu lead us where he wanted to go – stopping to make photos here and there. His game of the day was running away from everyone, and so we played to that. He took us on what could have been a palace tour, and we stopped him at convenient locations for the photos I had in mind.

Our warm up with dad got us started, but was short-lived and we had to move on to the next stop on the tour.

 

Seoul Photographer - Ezra and Dad

Seoul Photographer - Ezra and Dad

Our next couple of shots would play to his need to move around today, letting him stay in control while we got what we wanted. The rain came early and we ran back under cover for a while to let the worst of it pass, taking the opportunity to grab a (very) quick family portrait.

Family Photography in Seoul

Family Photographer Seoul - Ezra's Adoption

Family Photographer Seoul - Ezra's Adoption

Once the rain let up, we headed out for one of Ezra’s favourite activities of the day – riding on dad’s shoulders. He had a blast up there looking at the world from a different perspective and stretching his poor dad’s cheeks as far as they would go.

Seoul Adoption Photographer - Ezra's Family

Energy spent, we sat down to make a couple of quieter frames when Ezra remembered that he was hungry. “I shall go no further!” was his cry, at least that’s what we got from it. And so, we got ourselves some sugar coated pastries to stave off the hunger.

Family Session in Korea

Ezra's Family Session Seoul

Snack Time!

Satisfied, our young subject allowed us to continue, and began by showing me his best tiger impersonation before leading us promptly to his toys and refusing to participate any more!

Tiger Impersonation - Family Photographer

Seoul Family Photography

A Walk with Mum and Dad - Seoul Family Photographer

This way! - Seoul Photographer

That was all well and good, but I still needed a close-up of him with his mother. It took a short nap and some more food to coax him back in, but he came back with all the energy he had started with.

Ezra and Mum - Seoul Photographer

seoul-photographer-family-ezra-16

Thanks to the Anderson family for finding me here in Seoul and having me work with them at this amazing juncture in their lives. I had a great time, and am watching this little man grow from afar.

Please head over to my adoption stories page to see more stories of family building, and to read what Ester and Dan had to say about working with me during this time. To book your own adoption or family session, enquire above!

Ezra Sihu Anderson’s Adoption Story

My time with the Andersons started back in June when they first came to Korea to meet their son, Ezra Sihu. He would be their first adoption; their first child. As with most adoptions recently, the wait had been long and Dan and Ester were ready to take their little boy home. As we would come to see, he was ready for them as well.

Over lunch, they played, hugged and fed each other. Ezra drove his toys through his mother’s drinks, and played hide-and-seek from under the table while all erupted in laughter. This was going to be a happy family. Ester even managed to squeeze in a selfie with her son!

Selfie! - Ezra's Adoption

Car in Cup - Ezra's Adoption

Eating Together - Ezra's Story

We then headed outside to play in the grass, search for ants and leap off bench after bench. The light in everyone’s eyes during this play time showed the love that was forming for this new family. And the sweat we were all pouring out was indicative of times to come with this energetic little fellow!

Flowers - Ezra's Family Photography

Flowers for Dad - Ezra's Family Photos

Adventure - Ezra's Story

The Leap - Ezra's Day Out

ezra-adoption-story-05

Playing with Dad - Ezra's Adoption

 

Over the coming weeks, they would get to know their son more. When the final custody papers were signed, Ezra walked out of the building hand-in-hand with his mother, and smiled all the way to their hotel. And then he would give us all another round of exercise as he helped move their bags into a new room between games of hide-and-seek (clearly his favourite!).

Custody Arrival - Seoul Adoption

Foster Family - Ezra

Kissing the Angel

Mother and Son - Seoul Adoption

Putting on Shoes

Up to the Room - Ezra's Adoption

You Can't See Me - Seoul Adoption

Helping Mum - Seoul Family Photography

Helping Dad- Seoul Family Photography

Toys! - Ezra's Family Story

Toys! - Ezra's Adoption Story

Toys! - Ezra's Adoption Story

Toys! - Ezra's Adoption Story

More Hide and Seek

Even More Hide and Seek

Happy Family - Seoul Adoption

 

Tobin’s Adoption – Family Day

Here is one final morning with Tobin and his family to complete the first chapter in the story of this new family. As we saw last time, Knox and Tobin could not have been happier to meet each other at Tobin’s adoption takeover. They hugged, they blew bubbles, and they snuggled on the couch together. All that in between Tobin’s running, by far his favourite thing to do.

It was around 10:30am when we met up to get started. Knox strolled in, cool as can be, wearing his shirt and tie, and Tobin ran in in exactly the same way. Containing this little man was not going to be an option. Under the shade of the palace awnings, we made some frames of the boys together to start the day.

Family Adoption Photographer Seoul

Family Adoption Photographer Seoul

Family Adoption Photographer Seoul

Once we had the attention of our two little gentlemen, it was time to get the whole family involved. These two were having a great time, and keeping them close by proved to be a difficult task!

Korea Adoption Family Photography

Korea Adoption Family Photography

Korea Adoption Family Photography

Korea Adoption Family Photography

Then it was time for an adventure, off into the forest for a few games of tag, hide-and-seek, and blowing some dandelion seeds for good measure.

Korea Family Photographer

Korea Family Photographer

Korea Family Photographer

Seoul Adoption Photographer

Seoul Adoption Photographer

Seoul Adoption Photographer

And finally a quiet moment with the boys to wind up a very energetic morning!

Seoul Adoption Photography

Brian and Anna-Marie, it has been a pleasure to work with you and your family. I truly enjoyed telling this story with you, and wish you nothing but the best with your two beautiful boys. Thank you, and all the best!

 

Are you an adoptive family looking to have your adoption documented, or a family session during your time in Korea. I’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch using my contact form! For more, including more adoption photos, you can also head over and show some love on my Facebook page.

 

Tobin’s Family Day – Adoption in Seoul

Here we are, back with Tobin and his family. Just around a month had passed when Anna-Marie and Brian got back in touch with me. A lot of exclamation marks and capital letters surrounded the important information that their travel call had been received, and this time they would be bringing their first son, Knox, to help take his little brother home.

Knox had nothing but sparkles in his eyes when he shook my hand the morning of the meeting, and it was wonderful to see his parents again. We exchanged greetings as though it was just yesterday that we’d met Tobin for the first time, and that nothing special was happening this day. Some catching up followed, and Knox tried to learn a little about my camera while we waited. The atmosphere was so quiet, you would not have known what was about to happen. Until Tobin was carried in by his foster mother that was, and then this beautiful story unfolded before my eyes.

Tobin's Adoption
Tobin's Adoption in Seoul
Tobin's Adoption
Tobin's Adoption in Seoul
Tobin's Adoption
Tobin's Korea Adoption
Tobin's Korea Adoption
Tobin's Korea Adoption
Tobin's Adoption in Seoul
Tobin's Korea Adoption
Tobin's Korea Adoption
Tobin's Seoul Adoption
Tobin's Seoul Adoption
Tobin's Seoul Adoption
Tobin's Seoul Adoption
Tobin's Seoul Adoption
Tobin's Seoul Adoption
Tobin's Seoul Adoption
Tobin's Seoul Adoption
Tobin's Seoul Adoption

It is days like this that make photography the best job in the world. Being able to be a part of these moments in a family’s life is humbling and beautiful. I cannot thank this family enough for allowing me to share this time with them. Stay tuned for the final chapter in my time with Anna-Marie, Brian, Knox and Tobin.

Tobin’s Adoption – Korea Photographer

I met Anna-Marie and Brian just a few hours after they landed in Seoul, the birth country of their first son (who I did not get to meet this time around). This time, they were in Korea to meet their second son, Tobin, for the first time. That meeting was less than 14 hours away, and  I was honored to meet this wonderful couple and welcome them to Korea. We talked over a bossam dinner, and I learned of the 18 month process that had brought them to finally meeting the little boy who they would soon add to their family.

We met again the following morning, and it wasn’t long before a little boy in suspenders with snowmen on them rounded the corner and lit up the room. Busy with a lollipop, he ran from person to person, playing with each and everyone in turn. Bubbles brought out his beautiful smile, while a car on the floor calmed him and made him concentrate. Clearly a loving little man, it didn’t take him long to give his dad a big kiss on the cheek, get swept up in hugs, or share a drink with his mother. For the next hour, Tobin scooted between the other playing children, stopping to study a toy here and there, threw out a quick smile to one of his parents before bolting in the other direction, and kept us all sweating without respite.

No sooner had we started playing, it seemed, than the meeting was called to an end. But Tobin’s loving foster mother took everyone, including myself (who she reasoned had been chasing three people all over, and must be in need of a good feed), for a barbecue lunch. The first meeting was over in a heartbeat, but the memory of it was etched in my mind. This was going to be a great family! Stay tuned for the forming of a family and a friendship! Plenty more to come in this amazing story.

Korea Adoption Photographer

Korea Adoption Photography
Korea Adoption Photographer

Korea Adoption Photographer

Seoul Adoption Photographer

Seoul Adoption Photographer

Seoul Adoption Photographer

Seoul Adoption Photographer

Seoul Adoption Photographer

Seoul Adoption Photographer

Seoul Adoption Photographer

Seoul Adoption Photographer

Seoul Adoption Photographer

Korea Photographer

Korea Photographer

Korea Photographer

Korea Photographer

Korea 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