Welcome back to my 2021 Year in Review series. If you missed last week’s post, you can find that here. This week, I’ll be taking you through the slowly warming months of April, May, and June. Over this quarter, work slowly started to trickle back in and I was able to be part of some wonderful projects and life moments. Let’s jump right in.
April – Cycling, Event, Pre-Wedding, and Family Photography
The first order of business as the spring kicked off was to enjoy cycling the Geumgang Path. This gorgeous path winds through the historical sites in Gunsan, Buyeo, and Gongju before heading into the modern metropolises of Sejong and Daejeon. It was a beautiful ride filled with meals along the river and animals crossing our paths as the sun went down. This is definitely highly recommended for anyone wanting to see a calmer side of Korea.
Heading back up to Seoul, I had the pleasure of working with Kat and Christopher early one morning as the city woke up. The combination of the April temperature and the early morning meant we had Gyeongbokgung all to ourselves for the first hour of the day. It’s hard to beat an empty scene like this.
Directly after this session, I jumped on a bus and headed down to Damyang for a pre-wedding session with Samantha and Fernando. Damyang is a sleepy little town just north of Gwangju but it packs a punch with its manicured forest scenes. The Metasequoia Road, Bamboo Forest, and town park are all spectacular and draw visitors from all over the country. Being a weekday and off-peak season, we had the whole town to ourselves for most of the shoot. Not to mention, we got to stop by the amazing Jukrimwon Garden for some local bamboo-cooked food.
The next order of business was to join the Australian and New Zealand Embassies at Gapyeong for the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Gapyeong, one of the turning points of the Korean War. Every year, foreign soldiers who participated in this battle are honoured by the Gapyeong County Office and a ceremony is held. Unfortunately, our veterans were not able to attend this year due to the pandemic, but a live stream between Australia, New Zealand, and Gapyeong was held so the ceremony could involve the veterans. Hopefully, next year we will be able to honour them in person. The second section of this job, the ANZAC Day Dawn Service, took place back in the War Memorial in Seoul. Here, we also honoured the fallen from other wars, including those who served in the Gallipoli Campaign with the Turkish attache, as well.
On to something a little less solemn. I had the pleasure of testing out Laowa’s brand new 33mm f/0.95 lens for the Fujifilm system. It was a great time and for the photo nerds out there, I have my review over at Fujilove. For now, though, here are a couple of my favourite possibilities that this lens opens up, smooth out of focus areas and red-ring ghosting.
As I had a additional few days off, I took the opportunity to begin digging into David Ulrich’s book, Zen Camera. Following his advice and documenting the small things I see in my daily life has become an excellent tool for me as a photographer and below we can find a small sample of the first few days of this practice for me.
May – Family, Pre-Wedding, Editorial, and Event Photography
Thankfully, that pollution cleared by the time my next sessions came around. We had a beautiful day out with the Brogan family swiftly followed by a wonderful shoot in the afternoon light with Derek and MJ. When we get these rare clear days in Seoul, the light can truly be fantastic and it makes for a wonderful opportunity to create some gorgeous photographs.
Next up was a fun session with Jennifer and Said as they finalised custody of their daughter, Maliha. This little lady was all laughs and smiles for the entirety of our session before she ran out of steam and wanted nothing more than to dance to her favourite songs. Do check out this whole session. It’s a fun one!
My next couple of sessions were an editorial portrait for the Herbert Smith Freehills Magazine and the Dwight School Seoul graduation ceremony for 2021. My subject for the editorial was Lauren Lee, founder of the Jelly Ko line of cosmetics. We had a beautiful afternoon session around her office and ended up with way more variety than we’d been asked for. Thanks again to Lauren for being such a great subject to work with! The Dwight graduation was a bittersweet one as the principal and a long-term friend would be leaving Korea following the ceremony. Here’s to hoping our paths cross again, Kevin!
June – Commercial, Family, and Wedding Photography
After almost 17 years living here in Korea, I finally made the trip down to Wawoojeongsa, a temple I’ve been meaning to visit for so long. While it is a working temple, the grounds themselves are definitely geared towards making money from visitors with a few restaurants in the parking area and all sorts of decorations that are more like a theme park than a temple. However, there are still a few interesting elements to be found. The giant Buddha head would be the obvious one, but the temple is also working towards a huge number of disciple statues surrounding a reclining Buddha. While idols in Buddhism have always been a bit comical to me, it still makes for an impressive scene and the temple is worth a visit.
Next, it was back down south for Volvo CE. Again, these machines haven’t hit the market yet, so we’ll make do with an older image and a couple of shots from my post-shoot trip to Busan with Roy Cruz. We had quite a storm coming through and the eerieness of the city made for some nice photography while we were there.
Heading back up to Seoul, I had a quick family session with the Foss family and then the 40th-anniversary celebration for the KGCCI in Seoul. Who says a photo wall can’t be fun during a pandemic? The KGCCI certainly knows how to keep things rolling no matter the odds.
Following this, I decided to continue my seemingly never-ending quest to complete Korea’s “Grand Slam” by cycling all the paths in the country and being able to wear that gold medal like Mr. T. So, I headed down to Daejeon and completed the “Five Streams” path. Being the sucker for pain that I am, I decided that I wouldn’t take the bus back to Seoul, but rather cycle the 180km home from Suanbo the next day. While this was the longest two-day ride I’ve done to date and ended in a puncture just 12km from the finish, I did get to take in some beautiful scenery and am looking forward to riding this area again when the weather breaks.
As we approach the end of this quarter, the weather starts to get hot again and the monsoon season begins. I had the pleasure of photographing a gorgeous traditional wedding at Nakseongdae Park for the first time in a couple of years. While it was a warm day and those Hanboks can get extremely hot, we powered on and made some great memories of the day.
To wrap up the second quarter of the year, here are a few images of the incoming monsoon. See you all next week!