MJ and Derek’s Pre-Wedding Photo Shoot in Seoul

Lens Flare in the Bright Sun - Seoul Pre-Wedding

This session was on one of those rare days in Seoul where everything just lines up. Clear air and beautiful strong sun are so rare here that we just had to make the most of it. This gorgeous day gave us the opportunity to make some of my favourite images from my time as a photographer here in Seoul. Let’s jump in and take a look at how this session played out.

Getting Ready for a Pre-Wedding Photo Shoot

I set a meeting with MJ and Derek at one of my favourite little cafes in Seoul. It’s hard to beat having a good cup of coffee in a hanok space, and it just gets better with good company. It turned out that we had plenty in common, including a love for cycling and exploring the lesser trampled paths. We meandered through topics like the backstreets of Seoul and the cross-country cyling paths of Korea. About 45 minutes into our meeting, we had to make a concerted effort to steer the conversation towards what we were actually there to discuss!

MJ’s parents had met in Korea many years ago and had a pre-wedding photo shoot in one of Seoul’s palaces. In order to pay homage to that, MJ and Derek decided that they’d do something similar to announce their own wedding. We referenced Kristi and Kelson’s session along with my sessions in Jeonju here and here. In the end, we decided to keep the session in Seoul for simplicity and safety, but incorporate as much of these styles as possible.

During our meeting, the couple mentioned that Derek was likely to be a little awkward in front of the camera as he’s usually holding one himself. This is one of the great things about having a meeting beforehand. We’re able to get comfortable with each other and learn these sorts of things. In the end, as I always say, getting you comfortable (nobody ever is!) is my job and that extra little bit of time is always a good thing. Not only that, but we got to discuss the importance of including a bit of nature and certain elements of the architecture as well.

We scheduled our session but unfortunately had to push it back a week due to a few unforeseen circumstances. That actually turned out to be the best thing that could possibly have happened for us. The original day was a mucky wet day but our new session ended up being one of the most beautiful days of the year. We had a beautiful blue sky, puffy white clouds, and clean air. These things so rarely happen on days without huge crowds or during the palace opening hours. It really couldn’t have been more perfect for this session!

A Beautiful Day

While there are definitely benefits to a photoshoot on a cloudy day (especially on the longer days of the year), the sunlight can also give us plenty of options. We started our session in a far-flung corner of the palace with some spectacular afternoon light on the trees and shrubs. Getting warmed up is so important for all of us at these sessions, so I like to start a long way back and let my couple enjoy a moment with each other. Not only does this give them time to get used to the camera, but it gets me into the process of making images as well. Often, these images are some of my favourites from the session and this set is no exception.


Derek and MJ Pre-Wedding Photo Shoot - Changdeokgung, Seoul

Pre-wedding Photo Shoot in Seoul, South Korea


Following that, we made a loop back into the next section of the palace but stopped to make use of the gorgeous main gate on our way around. It’s really not often we get the combination of light and crowds required to make this happen. We’ll definitely take the opportunity when it is presented, though! Using the corners of the palace affords us the social distancing we all need to stay safe and clean backgrounds to work with. Seoul is an extremely densely populated city but for a session like this, we don’t need to show it.


Changdeokgung Couple Photography

Changdeokgung, Seoul, Korea

Couple Photography, Seoul Palace

MJ and Derek's Seoul Couple Photo Shoot

Pre-wedding Couple Photos, Seoul


I always encourage my couples and families to let me know if there’s anything they’d like included in the session as we walk around. The photographs we make together are for your home and memories, so best to make the best of the opportunity. It turns out that another one of our mutual loves was for doorways and gates, so we definitely stopped by a few of those as we moved around.


Seoul Pre-Wedding Photo Shoot with Derek and MJ

Changdeokgung Pre-Wedding Photo Shoot with Derek and MJ

Beautiful Palace Doorway at Changdeokgung


As the sun got lower in the sky (this really only coincides with palace opening hours in early spring, late autumn, or winter), we started to make use of the angular light. These are the sorts of images we just can’t capture on most days in Seoul, so it was an absolute treat to be working with such a wonderful couple who enjoyed experimenting as much as I did.


Spring Light in Seoul

Lens Flare in the Bright Sun - Seoul Pre-Wedding

Pre-Wedding Photo shoot

Sunset light


As we began our walk back towards the main gates, the palace staff began to slowly close off the further reaches of the palace. One by one, we lost our locations to public servants needing to wrap up their days. Finally, we finished our session in the empty main corridor of the palace. Late afternoons on weekdays do certainly have their benefits in Seoul.


Changdeokgung Couple Photo Shoot

Changdeokgung Pre-Wedding Photo Shoot

Seoul Changdeokgung Photo Shoot

Afternoon Light at Changdeokgung

Silhouette Couple

Final Light of Day at Changdeokgung


A big thanks goes out again to Derek and MJ for being such a fun and easy-going couple to work with. I hope you’ve all enjoyed this session as much as I did. If you’re interested in having your own session somewhere in Korea, do reach out and let me know. Also, follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more pre-wedding photo shoots.

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