Today’s session is a special one. Samantha and Fernando made the brave decision to get married during the pandemic. With Fernando currently stationed in Korea for work, they were planning to have their wedding with family back home. Unfortunately, travel restrictions put a stop to this and they decided to have another pre-wedding-cum-wedding photography session in lieu of that. That’s when Samantha reached out to me.
She explained their current situation and shared plenty of inspiration for what she was hoping for. This is a great way to get on the same page as we begin the planning process. The images were geometric, full of nature, somewhat minimal, and focused on romantic moments within a larger scene. This gave me plenty of ideas within Seoul, but unfortunately, we wouldn’t be able to work in the city itself. With restrictions in place for military personnel visiting Seoul, we’d need to plan a session outside of Seoul.
We had initially planned for a cherry blossom shoot along a stream in Sejong City but, unfortunately, Samantha’s dress didn’t make it in time. It’s not only the movement of people that has been affected by our current predicament. With the cherry blossoms all fallen, we would need a new location. Sejong is an administrative city and there’s not much there otherwise. Keeping with the initial inspiration that Samantha had sent over, I scoured the local maps for ideas of where we might move the session to and eventually landed on Damyang.
Damyang is well-known for its beautiful bamboo forests and metasequoia avenues. On top of that, it’s a small country town so we wouldn’t have to worry about crowds during the week. We all agreed that it was a great spot for the session and I set to planning out the shoot. While street view on local maps does cover even the nooks and crannies of small towns, it’s extremely out-of-date and difficult to get an idea of how light would work during out session. It had been years since I’d visited Damnyang so I decided to jump on a bus the day before to scout the area.
Transport in Damyang is limited unless you have a car or the freedom of time to wait for the hourly hop-on-hop-off bus. I decided to take my bicycle with me and scout the town at my own pace. I visited the two spots we’d planned to shoot at the times of day we’d be shooting and they were spectacular. But, it wasn’t until I picked up a cup of coffee and took a stroll around town with the remainder of my afternoon that I found a third location that would round out our session nicely.
We started our session in the bamboo forest “Juknokwon”. This beautiful manicured forest gets packed with people on weekends and holidays. For us, though, it was mostly our own private location. Since the dense bamboo leads to a lot of dappled light, ideally we would have shot on an overcast day. We didn’t have one of those, however. So, I decided to start there while the sun was high. That way we could avoid patches of light on Samantha and Fernando’s faces a bit more easily.
While we were mostly alone, an occasional troupe of local visitors would arrive behind the camera from time to time. In true local fashion, they’d cheer on the couple and yell out their congratulations. In addition, it seemed that everywhere we set up a shot, an elderly visitor would decide to take a rest in the composition. I was constantly hiding other visitors behind my couple to make the most of our time. The perils of working in public spaces!
Our next location was the gorgeous Metasequoia Avenue. This well-manicured avenue was planted in the 1970s and has since been used in countless films, dramas, and Instagram feeds. In order to avoid the kitsch love-seats and potted plants of the main section, we started at the far end to capture the beauty of the trees themselves. Thanks to our warm spring season, there was plenty of foliage on the trees already. Normally, we’d have to wait for early summer to get these sorts of lush greens.
We reached our final location as the sun was getting closer to the horizon. That provided some gorgeous backlight for the forest path. Working in amongst the trees like this can be challenging for both light and avoiding mosquitoes, but it was worth the effort. The early spring greens were spectacular and provided for some of my favourite images from this session. On top of that, the trees had been allowed to grow at will (a rarity in Korea) so their twisted branches made for excellent frames.
Again, a big thanks to Samantha and Fernando for making this happen at the most difficult of times. To my visitors, I hope you’ve enjoyed these images. If you haven’t already, please follow both my Facebook and Instagram for more photos. Also, feel free to reach out if you’re looking to have your own session here in Korea. I’d love to talk with you.
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