It’s April now and we’re finally out of winter. Not quite into warm weather yet, but the thick coats are away and the world is starting to wake up around us. This is a great time of the year for photoshoots. If you’re looking for a family photographer or pre-wedding photographer, make sure to book well in advance; it’s a popular time of year. I love this time of year, but you’ll see in part four of this series, that Autumn is my favourite season in Korea. But, we’re not there just yet, so let’s enjoy Spring.
April – Family and Proposal Photographer
Just before the season wound up and things got super busy, I had the chance to get a couple of days in the Korean countryside with my wife, Jeehe. Seoul is a fun city to live in, but sometimes it can be too much and getting out to a slower-paced region is a great way to refresh. We headed over to Sokcho for the first time in a few years to enjoy some fresh prawns and ocean breezes. Coming back into Seoul, I met up with my good friends, the Orths, to pay a visit to their boys’ foster families while they were in Korea. We had a great afternoon in Seoul visiting, hanging out the side of the taxi, playing grown up, and then having one of the best pork barbeques in the city.
A small house in Sokcho. Sublime textures created by years of ocean winds.
The turbulence of the incoming tide.
The Orth boys strutting their stuff.
Davis, the Power Man. Gotta love this boy’s zest for life.
The Orths and I then went down to Jeju Island. We’d decided to shake things up with their family session this time around and headed for the beach! After the wind got to be a little too much, we explored some random patches of flowers on the side of the road and headed up to Sunrise Peak for sunset. That’s how we roll! Here are a couple of my favourites from the session, but do click the link above and check out the full session! Drop me a line if you’d like to have your next family session down on Jeju; it won’t disappoint!
Sunset at Sunrise Peak with Hallasan and the Oreums in the background.
Davis showing dad just how to get back to the car the most difficult way.
After a quick flight back up to Seoul, I dashed out to check on the cherry blossoms. Wyatt was hoping to propose to Allison under a canopy of blossoms, but we’d had some sudden rain (not too uncommon at this time of year) which would knock all the blossoms off the trees. It turns out that every single blossom at Seoul Forest was gone and we had to quickly find somewhere else. We decided to go for something traditional and unique to Korea and chose Changgyeonggung for the privacy. I arrived a little early and found that one tree in this complex had been sheltered from the rain and still had quite a few blooms on it. With no time to change and replan, I decided that I’d throw it out as an option after the proposal. Allison loved the idea and we made a quick few frames before letting the couple go to enjoy their day. Check out the rest of this proposal photography session on the blog.
The moment Allison said yes.
A quick shoot with the one remaining tree of blossoms to cap off the session.
After three consecutive years of working with the Elbrachts for their family photography in Seoul, the time for them to leave had finally come. We booked one last session to celebrate their time here and had a great afternoon out in Changdeokgung. Sad to see you guys go, but happy that you’re moving on to new and exciting things! Thank you for the time we’ve had together.
These three have grown so much during their stay in Korea.
The columns at Seoul’s palaces always work well!
Then came the question of just what one does when the BBC calls. There is a simple answer to that. One panics. A nerve calming beverage or two later, one answers the call. That’s about the first 24 hours, give or take. The assignment was large, but interesting and would take me all over in search of people excelling at what they do. From solo publishers to owners of dog cafes and balance artists, this was possibly the most varied assignment I’ve shot to date. The brief was quite strict in formatting, which forced me to produce a similar shot for each and every person regardless of time of day or location. This had to be strict because some of the shots would be done by other photographers in other countries. The final result can be seen on the BBC Worldwide website and a few other shots below.
Balance Artist Rocky Byun hard at work.
Makeup Artist Jung Saem Mool.
Dog cafe Joypia in Gangnam.
All in all, this set of shoots took around a week of planning and two weeks to execute. During that time, I had a few other shoots scattered throughout. First up, I got to share some very special moments with the Love family. The kiss below was just after custody as we arrived back in the hotel. Some days, your heart melts! Next up was an old favourite, the Italian Food Festival opening. For this one, all the restaurants participating in the festival gather and prepare one dish each to share. It’s a great event with fantastic food. Then, I met with the Wiesner family. This may have been the most full-on family session I have done. Parker was full of love and energy. There was just no stopping him. We got some great shots, as you can see in the full session on the blog.
That first sweet moment as we got back to the hotel.
13 chefs and their dishes in 20 minutes. That’s how this event goes!
The Wiesner family on a perfect late-spring day.
Parker being Parker. Unlimimted laughs and good times to be found here.
ANZA, the Australia New Zealand Association, are known for throwing the best parties that Seoul has to offer. This dedicated group of volunteers come together in full-force twice a year to create shindigs that are not to be missed. This year’s ANZA Ball was no exception. Not only is the entertainment first rate, but the silent auction donates thousands of dollars to charities every single year. I’ve got a few images below to give you a taste of this year’s event. It was a lot of fun to photograph, that’s for sure!
ANZA’s entertainment never fails to satisfy.
My partner in crime for this event, Marco Devon, sharing in the entertainment.
Even the light tests look good at ANZA.
It wouldn’t be the same event without free-flow bubbly.
Yep. That’s right. 100% Kylie in Seoul. Aussies will be Aussies.
May – Pre-Wedding and Family Photographer
Finally, it was time to take a few days off. The first week of May here was a string of different holidays, which meant that I could get to shooting some of the additional work for the New Seoul Hotel and take a few walks around the city. Below are some shots of the city for the hotel and then one of my favourites from possibly the cleanest day I have seen in Seoul during my 12 years here.
Every year, Seoul’s Lantern Festival draws millions of visitors to the city centre.
Possibly THE landmark in Seoul: Gwanghwamun.
A popular pass-time now: getting your Hanbok on.
Gyeongbokgung at sunset.
With the lowest levels of PM10 I think I’ve ever witnessed here in Seoul, this gent decided he’d stop for a smoke right next to the metro line. Why not enjoy the clean air?
Thankfully, I still had some sessions to go in May, as it was some of the nicest May weather I’ve ever seen in Korea. We just had beautiful clean day after beautiful clean day. Starting with a few more family sessions and then some additional work for the New Seoul Hotel, this month would absolutely fly by. An early morning slot at the park with the Commerford family was a great way to start this run of sessions. Next up would be an afternoon session with the Strydom family. I love the challenge of a post-custody session. It’s all about discovery for myself and for the family. It results in images and memories that will last a lifetime. I had a couple more of those with the Dorsey and Stamets families, which were both beautiful days out in the spring weather as well. Then it was back into the New Seoul Hotel to finish off their new promotional work. A few of the new rooms had been completed and the dining area needed a shot or two. I also got a chance to get up above Seoullo Bridge and get a shot for them before all the rooftops got locked up. A lovely May sky didn’t hurt!
The Commerford family on a beautiful spring morning.
Hyeok and Nicole Strydom at the beginning of our session together.
The Dorsey family enjoying a beautiful morning at Changgyeonggung.
There’s nothing quite like the laughter of a child.
Seoullo 7017 as seen from up high.
The breakfast room for the New Seoul Hotel.
The New Seoul Hotel’s new rooms are simplistic and stylish, and they’re right in the middle of the city.
Moving into June, I had a few more sessions before the heat of summer set in. My good friends David and Sojeong were getting ready to tie the knot, so we started with a few fun shots around Seoul for their pre-wedding photography. We spent the better part of the afternoon mixing it up between the gritty backstreets of downtown and the beautiful afternoon light in Seoul Forest. Their session will go live on the blog early next year, but here are a few sneak-peeks. I also had a great family session with the Cho Son family as they took custody of their son. The first few moments after a family returns home together are always full of discovery and an outpouring of love. These are some of my favourite times to photograph.
David and Sojeong in the mean-streets.
Beautiful evening light at Seoul Forest.
First moments with the Cho Son family.
June – Wedding, Event, and Family Photographer
I also shot one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever shot in Hugo and Gayoon’s wedding in June. They went all out in making a gorgeous fusion of western and Korean in both the location and execution of their wedding. My good pal, Marco Devon, came along to second shoot for me, and between us we managed to shoot just on 8,000 frames. It was hard to stop at this wedding. Overlooking the Han River from a Hanok was just the start of things. The love shown not only by the couple, but by all their guests, culminated in a spectacular afternoon. Check out a couple of images below and join me back here in February for a full blog of the whole wedding.
A spontaneous dance to a friend’s song.
The wedding venue. It doesn’t get much better than this.
I talked earlier about the nicest day I have seen in my 12 years here. The second nicest was just a few weeks later. The EU Delegation to Korea held an event focusing on getting to know Europe and how we can focus more on green living that spanned the entire length of the Seoullo 7017 Bridge. They got really lucky with the two days of the event. A clear blue sky filled with nothing but puffy white clouds drove their message home. If the EU is holding an event in Seoul, do your best to get out to it. They do a fantastic job of spreading knowledge and making it fun every single time. The full event will go live next year, so check back for a complete set of images from the two days we spent on Seoullo.
EU Ambassador to Korea, Dr Michael Reiterer, and Seoul Mayor, Park Won-Soon, exchange greetings as they prepare to open the event.
Folk dances on Seoullo 7017.
Lots for kids to do all day long.
The trials and tribulations of having your face painted.
To wrap up this quarter, I met with the Emmett family for a quick session at Gyeongbokgung and with my old friends, the Sharps, for a fun day before the rain set in. It’s such a treat to have families visit Korea again and again. The Sharps were my first ever adoptive family, and I have them to thank for my ever-growing love for adoption and the people involved in it. On that note, that’s the end of part 2 of this Year in Review. Check back next week for a whole host of additional mayhem! Thanks for sticking this out with me!
Mother and son. Who needs a wind machine?
So much joy from everyone here. This session pulls me in every time.
Boys will be boys.
Jae being Jae. We decided to experiment with a “giant head” photo.
Sam Sharp. If those eyes don’t brighten your day, I don’t know what will.