Year in Review Part 1 – 2021

Welcome back to my annual Year in Review series of blogs. This is a great place to get an overview of all the different work that I do and see a little of Korea in the process. I have been doing these now for several years and previous editions can be seen here.

Typically, the first few months of the year are quiet for us as the weather is still cold. Usually, there are a few photoshoots here and there, but most of our time is spent laying low and waiting out the winter. This year was no different in that regard, but we did have a very cold winter and that meant quite a bit of snow and the Han River freezing over for the first time in a while. This made for a few interesting excursions in and around the city. Seoul takes on quite a different feeling when we get snow or ice and it can be a really beautiful time to explore a unique view of the city. I’d especially recommend getting out to one of the palaces nice and early before the snow gets trampled.


Han River Ice, Seoul
Cracking ice on the Han River.


Seoul Snowfall
Our first snow of 2021 was a big one.


Gyeongbokgung Snow
Early morning at the crossing in front of Gyeongbokgung.


Gyeongbokgung Snow
Gyeongbokgung with snow on the rooftops.


Gyeongbokgung Snow
Shoveling snow at Gyeongbokgung.


The next view that is really worth taking in after a few days of sub-zero temperatures is the frozen Han River. While this was once a common occurrence, we don’t see it every year now. This makes it truly worth getting out for, especially at sunrise or sunset when the reflections are best. It does take quite a bit to freeze the river, so be prepared for some really cold days.


Frozen Han River
Sunrise reflections in the frozen Han River.


Frozen Han River
Buildings reflected in the ice of the Han River.


Frozen Han River
Looking across at Namsan and Bukhansan with the frozen river.


Frozen Han River
Ducks flying by Olympic Bridge.


Frozen Han River
A brave soul walking out on the freshly frozen river.


As the temperatures began to rise slightly, we got a warning that there would be a huge dump of snow covering a good portion of the country. For most people, that might mean staying inside and keeping warm but for my good friend Roy Cruz and I, it means time to plan a trip to photograph the snow. We decided to head back to Danyang, a place we had unsuccessfully tried to photograph in the snow a couple of years back. This time, we were fairly sure we’d get snow so we both headed out of our respective cities after lunch at met up late in Danyang for a box of the finest garlic encrusted chicken money can buy and an early night before one of the most intense snowstorms we’ve seen in Korea. Not to forget, though, the brief pause in the flurry for a gorgeous sunrise before it began to dump again.


Danyang Ice
The frozen Southern Han River in Danyang.


Dodamsambong Winter
Dodamsambong in the frozen river.


The following morning. Dodamsambong surrounded by snow.


Only a few minutes after sunrise, the snow began to come down again.


Clearing Snow
A man clearing snow so vehicles can pass in and out of his village.


Snow in Mirrors
Double mirrors are always a good time.


Back in Seoul, the river was still frozen and it wasn’t long before another snowstorm gripped the city for a few hours. This truly was a very different winter from the usual affairs. Often Seoul is nowhere near as cold as some other parts of the country and the basin never really sees much snow. This year, however, we were treated to a beautiful show of what winter can be like.


Olympic Bridge at Sunset
Sunset at Olympic Bridge with the frozen Han River.


Traffic lights in the heavy snow.


Snowy Street
Some of the heaviest snow we’ve had in Seoul.


As the weather began to break and the river thawed, life slowly started to come back to the city. Unfortunately, with warmer weather comes thicker pollution and we had some fairly bad days. Luckily, I was called down south to do a photoshoot for Volvo and missed the worst of it. As yet, I don’t have the final images from that shoot as the product hasn’t hit the market yet, but you can see some of my other work for Volvo here.


Seoul Smog
Fishing in the smog.


Seoul Metro
Line 2 of the Seoul Metro crossing the Han River.


Smog Date
A date in the smog.


Express Bus Terminal
Seoul Express Bus Terminal. I’ve always loved the brutalist nature of this building.


Sunset on Geoje Island.


Returning to Seoul, I had a flurry of photoshoots to keep myself busy for a few weeks. The first of these was a quick shoot with the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise division in Seoul to promote their Technology Accelerator Program. With that done, I got to catch up with my friends, the Chens, as they finalised their second adoption. Not only was it great to see them again and catch up, but I got some of my favourite photos from this year. Late winter light is gorgeous in Seoul. If you’re willing to brave the cold, there is a quality to winter images here that can’t be achieved at other times of the year.


NZTE Seoul Technology Accelerator Program
Interviewing the New Zealand Ambassador with Wesley Chang.


NZTE Seoul Technology Accelerator Program
NZTE Seoul Technology Accelerator Program Event.


NZTE Seoul Technology Accelerator Program
New Zealand Wine in Seoul.


The tiles at Unhyeongung.


Family Photoshoot at Unhyeongung
Family photos with the Chens.


Family Photoshoot at Unhyeongung
Family photos with the Chens.


Family Photoshoot at Unhyeongung
Family photos with the Chens.


Next up was Andreas and Babalwa’s proposal. With the pandemic still in full swing, it was great to be involved with something so forward-facing and positive. Congrats to you both! Following that, I made some editorial portraits for Herrenknecht AQ in Seoul. We had a tiny 2×2 metre office with which to work and I ended up shooting into it from out in the hallway to get what we needed. Space is always at a premium in Seoul and rolling with the punches is how things get done.


Proposal in Seoul
A beautiful winter proposal.


Proposal Photography in Seoul
We made a few portraits following the proposal to commemorate the special time.


Proposal Photography in Seoul
We made a few portraits following the proposal to commemorate the special time.


Herrenknecht AQ Editorial Portrait
Editorial portraits for Herrenknecht AQ in Seoul.


I’ll wrap up this quarter with a few more personal images from around the city and see you all in the next chapter of this series next week. In the meantime, please do follow my Facebook and Instagram accounts for more photography. Take care and stay safe!


Seoul Nightscape
Seoul as seen from Eunbong.


Buddha Statue
The Buddha teaching.


Roof Tiles
Rooftiles in Seoul.


Exercise equipment leaned on the wall of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Changdeokgung.


Seoul Street
Old Jongno.


A woman prays to the Buddha (always an interesting concept) at Bongeunsa.

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