Today’s shoot one of those sessions where there wasn’t a dull moment. We had smiles, tears, hunger, running, tenderness, and a mass collection of pine cones, but let’s start from the beginning. Niko and Jacklin had reached out to have a post-custody family photo shoot before heading home after their adoption. We scheduled an early morning session at Gyeongbokgung to avoid the crowds. That happened to coincide with a national holiday here (Hangeul Day), which I usually avoid as much as possible (and especially this year) but, between custody and getting home, this was the only day we could make work.
Unfortunately for us, a citizens group also decided they were going to schedule an illegal rally in the downtown area. In response to this, the police shut down the Gwanghwamun plaza, barricaded all the streets, and closed Gyeongbokgung for the day. Of course, there was no news of this the day before and I only found out when I arrived. I quickly sent Niko and Jacklin an email and requested a quick phone call if they hadn’t left yet. We’d need to reimagine our session. So, I headed over to their hotel to pick them up and moved the session to Changdeokgung. While this seemed like a bit of stress in the beginning, we were dedicated to making it work and it turned out for the best. A certain patch of pine trees was quite the hit with our young gentleman.
Starting the session in my usual way, we got a couple of warm-up shots in the beautiful soft light under the palace awnings. These work at almost any time of day, so it’s great to make use of this light. We had a great time getting in some fun walking shots and then one with each of his parents. Then the pigeons landed. You’d better believe we had to go and check those out. According to Nolan, there were literally no other options. So, that’s what we did!
After we’d chased off the pigeons, it was time to move locations. All the while, we blew some kisses and made use of the absence of Seoul’s late-rising population. Normally, we can’t really make images on the main thoroughfares because of the crowds, but we certainly made sure to use the morning time for these shots. Heading over to our next stop, it was time to make sure we had a great shot of the whole family together. I always love to get at least one shot of everyone looking at the camera. It’s a great shot for the home and one to share with the grandparents. Following this, we had to take a milk break. Just like with the pigeons, there were no other options. You’ll see why below.
Once we were out of milk, we’d need to keep things active and playful. We didn’t want the little man going to sleep or getting tired out by doing what we wanted him to do all the time. At the halfway mark, this is always a good idea for post-custody sessions. We need to take our time and let the little ones have their space for a while. That doesn’t mean we can’t get some cute photos from that time, though!
We decided then to move to a more secluded location behind the main buildings. That way we could play to our hearts’ content without disturbing the other visitors to the palace. It was here that we discovered a love of pine cones. We stacked them, lined them up, tossed them about, and collected as many as we could. With a little direction from me to get us into the best light, we turned this into what would be my favourite section of the session. All the while, I was on the look-out for moments that would add to the overall set. A quick portrait here and a close-up of mother and son there really gave us some options.
Finally, we decided it was time to wrap up the session with a little more fun and some beautiful palace awnings in the frame. We ran down opposite sides of this building to meet each other with a big “surprise” on the other side. The resulting images were filled with laughter and fun and I felt like I had a full set of images ready to go. We handed the (almost) empty milk bottle to Nolan. Once he was done, he offered me his hand and took me for a walk along the side of the palace. Thanks to Jackie for getting these snaps of that lovely moment.
Thanks to the Michas family for entrusting me with this session and thanks to everyone for joining me on this journey today. I hope you’re all safe and healthy. If you’re visiting Seoul any time soon, please do reach out! I’d love to create some memories for you during your visit. Please also follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more images!