Today’s blog is a story of planning, hope, and rolling with the punches. Way back in December of 2021, I got an email from Christine asking for a late-April pre-wedding shoot on Jeju Island. Korea had finally begun implementing its “travel bubble” with Singapore and quarantine would not be an issue any longer. We scheduled a call to chat about the shoot and make sure we were all on the same page.
April is one of the nicest months of the year here in Korea, with cool mornings, warm afternoons, and flowers blooming at various times across the country. We were hoping for the beautiful weather that we come to expect from Spring and a gorgeous weekday shoot on Jeju with very few people around. As the date approached, it became clear that Jeju was going to get some interesting weather during our planned shoot day. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any other days available during Jeff and Christine’s stay on Jeju, but I could push my flights a little and give us a few hours on either side of the storm to shoot if it cleared. Jeju essentially gets four different weather systems on each corner of the island. Armed with that knowledge and a little extra time on hand, we decided to roll the dice and go ahead with the shoot.
Day 1 – Fog and Rain
When I landed at Jeju airport, the skies were filled with white puffy clouds and the sun was warm. I thought, as they often are, that the weather bureau here would be completely wrong. However, I could see over towards Hallasan that the dark clouds were forming and we’d be in for a storm soon. I had originally planned for this afternoon to be a recce for our main shoot. However, it became clear that we’d need to take the opportunities we were given. So, I had organised to meet up with Jeff and Christine as soon as I arrived. We planned to drive around to find some possibilities together in the situation we were given. As I began my climb towards our first shooting location, the fog began to descend and the drizzle started. We were in for an interesting afternoon.
To begin the shoot, we decided to make the best of the foggy scenery. Finding a quiet stretch of road, we stopped to make use of the mood the fog provided. Then, as it began to rain again, we drove towards a location I was hoping to use. But, on the way, we discovered a cafe with its lights on in the fog and stopped for a few images in Jeju’s famed rapeseed flowers. Rain began to fall again and we decided, not a moment too soon, to hit the road and drive to our accommodation for the evening.
The rain battered us as we drove across the southern coast. We decided to stick to the inland roads in the city for safety, rather than expose ourselves to the high winds and waves of the coast. Slowly, but surely, we made our way across the island. The rain began to ease as we reached Sagye-ri on the southwest corner of the island. We stopped in for a bite to eat at a local black pork restaurant and discussed our thoughts for the following day. It was clear that Jeff and Christine would rather sleep in a little and be rested for what was to come, rather than get up early with a chance that it would simply be pouring rain. So, we said our goodnights and headed in for some rest.
Day 2 – Rain and, well, Rain
The following morning, I got up early to see if I could find a few locations to salvage the journey we’d made across the island. The winds were still quite strong and, about every 15 minutes, the rain would begin to pour and I’d run back to my car. Finally, I began to feel a slight relief. It was looking like we might be able to work in short bursts and wait out the rain.
Soon, I got a message from Christine saying that they were up and would love to get a coffee. We met at a coffee shop near Yongmeori Coast and no sooner had we ordered our coffee than the downpour began. The word downpour doesn’t really describe the rain that fell while we had coffee. Moments earlier, the sky was looking like it would clear. Then, we were plunged into the monsoon season. Needless to say, we ordered another coffee and tried to wait out the storm.
Our patience was not rewarded, so we decided to have lunch first. Still, the storm did not pass. “Well,” we decided, “we had fog yesterday, let’s take rain today and see what happens tomorrow.” The nearby Jeongbang Falls seemed as good a place as any to have some fun in the rain, so we headed down the staircase and carefully made our way across the wet rocks. We couldn’t safely move around too much, but we did come away with a few fun images of our time there.
One of the other locations I had in mind for this session was the forests surrounding Bulgeun Oreum. This gorgeous area feels very unique to Jeju. Korean forests are typically filled with undergrowth and gnarly twisted trees. These tall, straight trunks stand in stark contrast to that and make for a location you can’t find anywhere else. The rain began to slow as we left Seogwipo city and it was looking like we finally might be able to get Jeff and Christine’s planned outfits out of the car! For about 20 minutes, we put together a set of images in the forest and then decided to head down to our hotels for the night. We’d be staying in Seongsan and we’d asked our make-up artist to join us for an early morning start, so it was definitely time for a good night’s rest.
Before turning in, I checked the weather report to get an idea of what I’d be up against the following day. As we’ve seen so far, Jeju’s weather can change in an instant but I wanted to at least have a rough plan in my head for our last morning together. It looked like the clouds would be clearing and we’d have a bright sunny morning to round out the trip. I decided to start in Seongsan, visit a barn a bit further inland, and, if we had time, head over to Hamdeok for a few final shots on the white sandy beach.
Day 3 – Finally, some Sun!
Unsurprisingly when we woke up, the forecast had changed and clouds had filled the sky again. Still, we had one of the most beautiful areas of the island to work with, so we jumped in our cars and made our way to Gwangchigi Beach for a few shots with Seongsan Sunrise Peak in the background. Strong winds and choppy seas made this a challenging location and, for my equatorial friends, quite a chilly one.
With my flight back to Seoul looming, we jumped in the cars to head for the barn I had planned. On the way, we stopped to catch some beautiful radish flowers and volcanic rocks along the coast. As we passed out of town and into Oreum territory again, the sun began to peek through the clouds and it looked like we might finally get some light for our next location. Parking carefully around the mud and puddles from the storm, we jumped out and excitedly made our way towards the barn.
It didn’t take us long to find our rhythm here in amongst the horses and locals scavenging for herbs. One particular horse, who I dubbed George (it really did seem fitting at the time…), put on quite the yoga flow for us. His stretches gave us all the laughter we needed to break out of our early-morning sluggishness. We even had to dodge a few of his offerings on the ground to make our way to the other side of the barn. Thanks, George!
Just an hour remained before I would need to leave for my flight, so I offered one final location for Jeff and Christine. We could make it to Hamdeok in around 25 minutes, which would give us about 30 minutes to get a completely different set of images that what we had so far. We agreed and headed for the town. Hamdeok is a beautiful location in the morning because there are far fewer people and the low sun results in pastel tones across the sand and water. With a few beach shots under the belt, we walked over to the cliffs just a few metres away and made our final images for the trip.
This is where we parted ways. After experiencing fog, torrential rain, winds that nearly knocked us off our feet, and finally some blue skies, our session was complete. Once again, I’d like to thank Jeff and Christine, not only for choosing to entrust me with their Jeju Island pre-wedding photoshoot, but for being willing to take things in their stride and have fun regardless of the weather. It was a pleasure meeting and working with you both!
Thank you to anyone who has made it this far, as well! If you’re looking to have your own pre-wedding or couple photoshoot on Jeju Island, please do reach out so we can plan something, hopefully with a little more predictability! Also, don’t forget to add me on Facebook and Instagram for more fun sessions like this one.