We stood there, atop the small peak of Songaksan waiting for Joel and Nico to arrive. Everything was set and we were just trying to stop it from blowing away. There was a typhoon passing and the winds were almost knocking us over on this little peak. It was certainly worth it, though, as you will see.
Joel had reached out a couple of months prior and we’d booked a date in September for his proposal on Jeju Island. During our discussions, Joel pointed out that he’d love to have nature in the shot and a good view of Halllasan was what he initially brought to the table. I suggested Darangshi Oreum, Songsan Peak, and Songaksan as potential areas for him.
During his consideration, Joel came across a view of Hallasan that I assumed must be from a drone. It wasn’t a view that I had seen before and seemed too high for the area we were looking at. Nonetheless, after a little persistence and some searching of Korean hiking blogs, I came across the spot. It was, unfortunately now off-limits because of the environmental protection act. But, there was a nearby spot that would work almost as well.
We wanted somewhere that wouldn’t be too crowded. So, having a spot that was a short hike off the usual tourist route meant easy access and far fewer people. This seemed like the perfect spot. I headed down to Jeju the day before to check it out. It’s always a good idea in Korea to make sure things are the same as you expect them to be. Things can change in a heartbeat here.
As the date approached, it seemed that the warm oceans south of us would be sending a little care package right on the date of the proposal. A typhoon would be passing through the neighbourhood. As I looked at the radar images, it didn’t look like it would hit us directly. However, we’d be in for some fierce breezes and cloudy skies. This, as we will see, can often lead to gorgeous results.
Joel wanted a bunch of flowers along with a small box set up on the hilltop. He also wanted a card and some additional flowers for decoration. With these things in hand, I headed to Jeju with my wife as my assistant and all of our fingers crossed that the storm would pass off the coast and leave us be.
The spot was looking good, and to my personal delight, the clouds were extremely dramatic as I scouted the location. I put together a set of directions for Joel so he would know where to go, and turned in for the evening to wait out the worst of the storm.
We woke up the next morning to much less aggressive waves and wind. I texted Joel and we decided to pull the shoot back a couple of hours since we wouldn’t be too worried about sunset light with all the clouds around.
Keeping the flowers in place on the hilltop as we waited for Joel and Nico to arrive turned out to be more than we’d bargained for. We ended up getting everything just so and then building a little fortress from some leftover cardboard secured by my bag of lenses.
As they came up the hill, we quickly disassembled the protection, turned on the song Joel had requested and waited patiently as though we were tourists admiring the view. My acting received an E during high school, but the scenery that day was so gorgeous I didn’t have to try too hard!
It didn’t take Nico long to realise what was going on and I sprung into action to capture every moment of Joel’s speech and the ring exchange. It was such a relief that everything went well and nobody was blown off the hilltop!
As with most of my proposal bookings, we then took a stroll around the area to get some more images of the couple together. One of my favourite things about portraits this close to a proposal is the energy of the couple. I don’t doubt that Joel and Nico have something special, but their energy following this moment was truly something to witness.
As we started to make our way back down the hill, the sun began to peek between the clouds and we got some gorgeous end-of-day light through the recently cleared air. It made for a wonderful set of images to finish out the day. Just as the sun was about to set, we called the session, took a quick polaroid together (thanks, Nico!),went our separate ways to enjoy the last of the sunset. And what a sunset it was!
If there’s any recommendation I can offer to those who visit Korea, it is to go out immediately after a storm passes. That’s when we get our nice sunsets, beautiful clouds, and clear air. Even my wife and I took a moment to walk up a little hill and take in the gorgeous colours of this rare moment. Then it was off for black pork, the only true way to finish off a day on Jeju.
If you’re interested in having your own proposal photographed, or indeed a family or couple session, on Jeju Island, please do reach out. I’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget to follow my Instagram and Facebook for more images, as well!