Saunders First Meeting and Post-Custody Family Photos

Leaving Changdeokgung

Lisa reached out to me in early January to enquire about having their first meeting with their son photographed. Meeting Bokyeom for the first time was an important moment for her and Ben and having photographs of their moments together would be a great way not only for them to remember it but also to explain this life event to Bokyeom in years to come.

With the responsibility squarely on me to capture all of these first moments together, I like to get a coffee right before the meeting and spend an hour mentally preparing myself. Often, I’ll meet with the family at this time as well and get to know each other a little before the intensity of the meeting. I met Ben and Lisa that morning and after a few moments of getting to know each other, we headed up to the meeting room to see Bokyeom.

While first meetings can sometimes be slow to get started as the family get to know each other, Bokyeom wasn’t going to run things that way. He had a room full of toys and two people who were there just for him. He accepted his gift of a teddy bear with photos of his parents attached with glee and eagerly stepped into the room. After a quick high-five for his mother, he was on to the next thing – bubbles. Bubbles almost always go well in first meetings and are a great way to bond in those first few moments.


Adoption first meeting in Seoul - First Smile

Adoption first meeting in Seoul - First High Five

Adoption first meeting in Seoul - Smiles

Adoption first meeting in Seoul - Bubbles

Adoption first meeting in Seoul - Bubbles

Adoption first meeting in Seoul - Bubbles

Adoption first meeting in Seoul - Bubbles

Adoption first meeting in Seoul - Laughter


After the bubbles had covered the floor in sticky mess, it was time for cars, animals, and a very full police van. As Bokyeom took down each of the toys from the shelf, he passed them to one of his parents and then proceeded to stuff them all inside a rapidly filling police van.


Adoption first meeting in Seoul - Crashing Cars

Adoption first meeting in Seoul - Stuffing the Ambulance

Adoption first meeting in Seoul - Playing together

Adoption first meeting in Seoul - Stuffing the Ambulance

Adoption first meeting in Seoul - Collecting Animals


After all that hard work, it was time for a drink of water. Bokyeom was intent on drinking this himself and almost managed it perfectly. At the last moment, a little squeeze covered him in water, much to the joy of his audience. Once he’d had a drink, it was time to go and just one last thing stood between him and the door – a quick picture of him with his parents. Like everything else during that hour, it was full of joy and Bokyeom could not be contained.


Adoption first meeting in Seoul - Trying to Drink Water

Adoption first meeting in Seoul - Quick Portrait


A couple of days after this meeting, I headed down to Myanmar for a few weeks to continue work on my personal project, Tattoos of Asia. Just as I was wrapping up this trip, I got a message from Lisa again saying that they were headed back to take custody and wanted to have some family photos soon after. We set up a session the day after custody as they’d be flying home very soon after.

Bokyeom was happy and high energy for most of our shoot, but when he started to get hungry, he let us know! He loves fruit, so Lisa and Ben got an apple out and we had Bokyeom back in an instant. The only thing was, the apple core was his. Like it was the only thing in the world that he had left to eat, Bokyeom held onto it and would not allow us to take it out of our remaining images. We decided that this was all part of the memories and allowed him to keep it for the rest of the session.


Saunders Family Portrait

Bokyeom walking - Seoul Family Photos

Bokyeom and Dad

Aeroplanes are always fun

Family Walk in Changdeokgung

Bokyeom's Infectious Laugh

Minimal Family Portrait

Chasing Bokyeom

Family Portrait in Setting Sun

Apple Time

Final Sunset Family Photo

Leaving Changdeokgung

Thanks again to Lisa and Ben for allowing me into their lives at this special time. I had a blast and hope to see you guys in the future.

If you’re visiting Korea and looking to have a family session while you’re here, please do reach out. I’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and like my Facebook page, as well.


2 thoughts on Saunders First Meeting and Post-Custody Family Photos

  1. These pictures are just magic! Can’t wait to engage you as a photographer on our next trip to Korea. LOVE your work ❤️

    • Hi Kirsty! Thanks so much. I hope we can make something work out when you visit! Do reach out when you’re preparing the trip. Stay safe in the meantime.

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