The clock ticked over and we’d blown the funding goal out of the water for our Kickstarter project. Wesley, Pablo, and I sat down for a well deserved glass of whiskey and stared out at the Han River for a couple of hours. A mixture of shock, affirmation, and fear for what was to come kept us running on adrenaline as we chatted through how far we had come. The book was ready, but little did we know how difficult it would be to print. We had made samples and contracts well in advance, and had a relationship with our printer. However, as anyone who has lived over here can tell you, nothing is ever confirmed until the last minute. In the end, it took us nearly three months to print what should have been done in a few days. But we got there, and it looks fantastic. If you haven’t got a copy yet, please support the Lai Tu Chin people by picking one up from my store!
Back to photographing families in Seoul, though! I had a great few months here that began with Faye bringing her children over to Korea for a holiday and us spending a whole day exploring the city together. From their beautiful Hanok stay to the parks all around the city, we trekked around but could not wear the kids out. Thanks for a great day, guys!
Travis and Kim Bolton were my next family session for this quarter. We headed out to Seoul forest to soak up the beautiful greens and get ourselves a few mosquito bites! Despite Kai having a rough couple of days with a virus running through his system, he perked up in the sunlight and we had a great session together.
Next up was the Mohr family. With three adopted boys, they decided to visit Korea and give their children a chance to see their birthplace as they grow up. In amongst visiting their foster families and visiting everything they could, we got to squeeze in a family session to get some portraits of the boys at Gyeongbokgung one morning. Each of the boys had such a different personality, and it was quite a challenge to get them all showing themselves in one picture, but I think the below two give you a fair idea!
The joy that is a new adoption came to my doorstep again with the Swanner family. Tara and Brandon were adding number FIVE to their family in young Chandler! We had a fantastic morning at the agency and then again when they returned to take custody of him. Tara and Brandon are inspiring parents, and their love and dedication for their children is quite overwhelming. Hope we can see you all soon!
Between all of this, it was time for some editorial work for South China Morning Post and Malaysia Airlines’ Magazine. I love this sort of work because it forces me to re-explore Seoul. After a while, the city becomes the norm, a place to live and nothing more. Working for international publications means I have to see it in its best light. It’s a great exercise in renewing your love for a place. A couple of shots from that time are below.
Of course, it also helps when you get to travel a little. I’ve spent quite a bit of time on Jeju Island this year, which despite its over-the-top development at the hands of new land owners, is still one of my favourite places in the country. The ocean all around is a calming presence, and brings you back down to earth after the mayhem of Seoul. Here is one of my favourites from my time down there.
Another favourite spot of mine is Jeonju. This beautiful little city is another example of rampant commercialisation, but pockets of beauty can still be found there as well. I spent a day with Chris and Kim photographing their pre-wedding photos in the old city. Ducking and weaving our way past the tourist hotspots to the simpler, prettier parts of town, we made some great images in the gorgeous light that the town gets courtesy of not having high-rise buildings everywhere. The following day, I squeezed in a little personal shooting time before heading back up to Seoul. Countryside Korea is wonderfully friendly and full of characters, and Jeonju is no exception.
A couple more wonderful afternoons days out with families this month would get me through to my final assignment of the quarter. Both sessions were held at Changgyeonggung, my favourite palace in Seoul because it’s so quiet and rustic. Not to mention that it’s surrounded by park land!
Last up was a job with Thermo Fisher Scientific working on their staff stories. My job was to show Tony, VP & GM of Thermo Fisher Korea, in his story of unity within Seoul. Tony’s team address some huge issues in Korea, such as air quality, which anyone who has been here can tell you about. Tony’s story revolves around getting everyone working together to solve a common problem. Thankfully, we had one of the clearest days of the year to show off their good work!
On top of all of this, I am proud to announce that my second large personal project is under way. Myself and Marco Tessiore visited Taiwan during the week of Typhoon Meranti (hardly planned, but you take what you can get!) to begin working with additional tribes practising facial tattoos in Asia. Amongst the Taiwanese aborigines, many practised facial tattoos in the past, but very few living examples remain. We visited in order to explore their culture and hear their stories. Many are now too frail to participate in our project, but of the people we were able to meet, you can see some samples below. A new site has been set up to facilitate this project, and we are looking for funding to complete a pan-Asia project of tattooed faces. Please do let us know if you are interested in helping out or know someone who might be!
Thank you again for taking the time to follow me on this journey. Next week will be the last instalment for this year. Check back then!