Today’s session is a two-part autumn session I had with the Chien family last year. We had some beautiful light for this early morning family shoot and an image from this set ended up making its way into my ten favourite images from last year. This shoot is very representative of how autumn typically is here, so I hope it will be helpful for those considering an autumn family photo shoot.
Jenny reached out to me when the leaves were approaching their peak, hoping she wasn’t too late to book her desired date. Usually, I’ll have a few dates available, even last minute and one of those lined up with her family’s availability, thankfully. With just a week left before the session, we set about planning out our ideas. The family wanted to have some autumn leaves for the first half of their session and then change into hanboks for a couple of very specific images towards the end.
Autumn Leaves in Seoul
Some great places in the city for family photos in the autumn leaves are Seoul Forest Park and Namsan Park. There is a great variety of trees in both these spots and, unlike some other places, the trees all change at roughly the same time. There are also quite a few colours that pop up around the palaces, as well. Changgyeonggung has plenty of browns, some yellow ginkgo trees, and a couple of blazing red maples. Changdeokgung, while mostly evergreens on the inside, does have a small park right near the gate with some ginkgos and maples, as well. Gyeongbokgung is surrounded by streets of ginkgos. If you have the opportunity to travel a little, there are some gorgeous patches of autumnal colour on Nami Island, at Taejongdae Park in Busan, in Seoraksan National Park, and also at Naejangsan National Park, to name just a few.
Since the Chiens wanted to have a palace as the backdrop for the second half of their session, we decided on Gyeongbokgung as we’d be able to use the ginkgos to begin with and then head inside just as the palace opened. However, a couple of days before our session, we got some heavy rain that knocked all the leaves off the trees around Gyeongbokgung. I did a quick scout around the city and sent Jenny some options alongside the bad news. We quickly switched up the plan and coordinated meeting at Seoul Forest instead.
Since we still wanted to get the hanbok shot at the gates of Gyeongbokgung before the crowds arrived, we agreed on a sunrise start at Seoul Forest. There’s a gorgeous corner of the park that gets used quite a bit for selfies and pre-wedding shots. Since we’d be there in the morning, we would have the whole area to ourselves and could work in the gorgeous morning light. The soft glow of autumn sunsets and sunrises is absolute magic in Seoul. Even with the lightly overcast sky we had, the morning was gorgeous and we sped through as many different images as we could before we had to run for a taxi. Keeping it fast-paced also allowed me to make sure the kids didn’t remember how tired they were.
We left Seoul Forest at 8am to make sure we could get to Gyeongbokgung before it opened. This way, we could have the courtyard to ourselves and get the one “must-have” shot that I was asked for. As our taxis arrived, everyone quickly slipped on their hanboks. These were not only beautiful but helped add a bit of warmth in the cool morning air. Before the crowds arrived and it became unsafe for us to be here without masks, we grabbed this frame and picked up our tickets to head inside.
Now the pressure was finally off! I had everything that I’d been asked for and we could start experimenting a little. We quickly donned our masks and headed inside to beat the crowds. Especially on weekends, and doubly so during autumn, Gyeongbokgung gets extremely busy and we needed to be as far from people as possible.
Working with older children meant that we could speed through several different locations and get a little more variety than I usually am able to with toddlers. We made the most of this and hit up quite a bit of variety in the palace architecture. To wrap things up, I made a portrait of just the parents under some of the remaining leaves. What a morning!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the images from this session. If you’re looking to have your own autumn leaves session, do reach out early and keep some flexibility in your schedule. It can be a really beautiful time of year, but unpredictable and very crowded. Get in touch to discuss the best opportunities for this autumn season.