Welcome back to the final piece of my 2019 Year in Review. This will be the busiest section of the year, so we’ll dive right in without hesitation.
October – Event, Family, Adoption, Proposal, and Couple Photography
I started off this quarter with a two-day, 28-hour blockchain conference for BitcoinSV and Coingeek. This was a beautifully crafted conference that gave plenty of options for how to photograph it. The lighting and screens were a joy to work with and offered plenty more than the regular headshot-at-the-podium of many large conferences. The event organisers did a phenomenal job of transforming this rather dated hotel ballroom.
Directly following this, I had a quick session with Mae and Kyle while they were in town. Mae is an awesome wedding photographer and was visiting to shoot a wedding in Incheon. She took the opportunity to get some portraits with her husband in Seoul. So, we met up on a warm October morning to jet around Gyeongbokgung for an hour and put together a quick collection for them. Thanks again for looking me up, Mae!
Next up was my annual two-day portrait session for the German School Seoul. It’s always a pleasure to work with kids and even though we get through almost 250 portraits in 6 hours, there’s still time for jokes and fun. We have roughly 60 seconds with each child to situate them, get them comfortable and make a portrait as we also photograph the teachers and class groups. By the end of the day, coffee is calling, but it’s an extremely satisfying job and I was glad to be called on again this year.
A couple of days later, I met up with Kristi and Kelson for some more couple portraits in Seoul. They wanted to get some nice pictures to update their set from their wedding a few years back and we decided to mix their love of nature with a little bit of Korea to give the images a sense of place. This set will make its way to a full blog in the new year, but here are a couple of favourites from the day.
After a couple of days post-processing everything from the beginning of the month, I dropped into Monday for a triple day of adoption first meetings! The Greenhoe family had flown in to meet their daughter and I was honoured to be there for some of the most infectious giggles I’ve heard for a long time. With those smiles brightening up the room, it was hard to end this meeting. But, of course, they would be back to see her again. See a couple from that session below.
Then, I headed downstairs for a quick coffee to wait for my next family, the Beaches so we could head in and meet their TWO new children. Back-to-back meetings like this was a first for me and we made A LOT of pictures. Both kids were extremely different in their personalities, so it made for a couple of different approaches in a very short time. A few images from those sessions are below.
A wildly fast editing session to get these images delivered was followed by a two-day conference with Blackboard Inc. for their Teaching & Learning Conference in Seoul. To wrap this up, they had a short after-party on a rooftop of a small hotel in Seoul. It was one of the nicest venues I’ve had the pleasure to shoot at in Seoul, so I’ve decided to drop some simple images from that evening in place of regular conference photos. We’ve had plenty of those in this year-in-review series.
Keeping with this string of events, the next day saw me at the annual Rio Tinto partner appreciation dinner in Seoul. This evening brings together representatives from Rio Tinto with Korea’s biggest raw materials importers such as Hyundai Steel and Posco. It’s a lively evening of discussion and thanks.
The next afternoon, it was a pleasure to see my friends Elina and Jukka with their boys as they visited their former home of Seoul again. We got together for a quick family session through the fog of jetlag and made some more pictures for their ongoing collection of the boys’ growth. After a few years in Finnland, the boys had grown so much and I wasn’t working with little people any more! Thanks again, Elina, for reaching out during your visit!
Dwight School Seoul then had their annual PA dinner and this year was an absolutely spectacular show of fireworks and cigars for their “Havana Nights” theme. Here are a couple of frames to represent that evening.
Waking up bright and early the next day, I headed down to Suwon to meet up with the McKeegan family for a session we’d had in the works for a while. Being based in Pyeongtaek, they’d spent a lot of time in Suwon with their girls experiencing Korea on the weekends and wanted a session that showed their favourite parts of the temporary palace as a keepsake when they returned home. A couple of hours passed by very quickly with these lively young ladies and it would have been great to have a couple more so we could squeeze in some more locations. A full blog of this session is coming soon!
My next session was on Jeju Island, so I flew down the next morning to quickly scout a location for Kevin’s proposal. We’d decided on Seongsan Sunrise Peak as being the background and starting our session on the nearby Gwangchigi Beach. Following this gorgeous proposal on a stormy day, I headed south to stay the night and enjoy the Sanbangsan area for sunrise before flying back to Seoul. Jeju Island’s rugged coast never ceases to inspire me.
Then I flew back to Seoul for three quick family sessions to round out October’s marathon. Some early Autumn (still plenty of green around at this time) portraits with Wei Yee and her family, then a mother-and-daughter date session with Adelin and her girls started this run. Then, it was a session in Namsan park with the Minicucci family and their baby boy.
November – Event, Family, Adoption, Event, and Editorial Photographer
When November began, it was looking like a much calmer month than October had been. That didn’t last long, however. Several adoption sessions came in, a couple of last-minute government events on top of that, and finally my regular Social Innovation in the Community shoots were scheduled. November was going to be another busy one.
First up was the annual Italian Food Festival in Korea opening. This is a great fun event where Korea’s best Italian chefs come together to produce a culinary tour of the provinces of Italy. This particular event is a media launch, so I get a few moments with each of the chefs and their dishes before the crowd gets to sample the flavours. You can see the full blog here.
On the way out of this event, I ordered a taxi from the lift of the hotel to make my next session on time. For a few weeks we’d been planning a gorgeous scene for Lendyl to propose to Samantha and today was the big day. Everything was looking great when I arrived, so all that was left to do was photograph the scene and pick up the couple. The full story and Wesley’s amazing video can be found in the blog.
The following day, I met up with a family I hadn’t seen for a couple of years (since their first adoption!) for an autumn family shoot following their second adoption. It was wonderful to see how much Tyson had grown and spend some time with his family as they welcomed their newest member. Namsan park was gorgeous on this day and we had a great time before the weather got a little cold. A full blog of this session is coming soon! My next session was with the Buthje family. As is sometimes the case with adoptions, their little lady was very attached to her mother and quite wary of strangers. For the most part, we stayed back and made mostly wide images of the family in the beautiful palace. It can be a delicate balance this close to custody, so we respected that while still producing some lovely images.
My next couple of sessions were also adoption-related sessions, beginning with the custody day of the Johnson family we met in September’s post. This was an emotional day, so we’ll share just a couple of quick images with the little man and his big brother. After this, I also met again with the Beach family (also from that September post) for a family session at Gyeongbokgung.
Following this, Wesley Chang and I headed out to Nami Island again to photograph and film another beautiful proposal. Kon Yew proposed to Victoria under the last remaining beauty of the metasequoia trees of the island. Despite the rain the day before, we all met up early to make the proposal happen before the crowds arrived. Check out the images and video below.
Next up were a couple more adoption first meetings. These meetings are always filled with the most emotional moments of the year for me. Being honoured with the trust to photograph a family’s most intimate moments is, to this day, one of the reasons I remain a photographer. The nuances of human interaction are never on display quite like they are in the first moments between an adult and a child. Intention, love, and apprehension all play a huge role in these moments. Nothing brings to life the power of a photograph quite like these times for me.
Later in the week, I had a few moments with the Hudson family before their departure from Seoul. Moments of bonding so early after custody are precious and being able to capture them is something really special. The boys were restless and emotional on this day, but being able to make images of them with their parents during this time was extremely special.
To end this week, I dropped into Seoul Forest with Pei Ling and her family to spend some time in the last flecks of our late autumn. We made use of a lesser-frequented corner of the park and soaked in the last of the warmth and golden light that makes autumn so special here.
A last-minute ministerial visit from New Zealand took command of my next few days before heading out with a couple more families and Social Innovation in the Community to wrap up November’s shenanigans. First in this final few sessions was my Social Innovation in the Community editorial. That was followed by a family shoot with Avery and his parents. We had a great time making images in the hanok they were staying in before heading over to Changdeokgung for a few additional shots.
My next session was with the Kurtz family. We had quite a cool day for this session, so we moved as quickly as we could to get some variety before the cold sunk in. Starting in hanboks, we made a few fun images under the palace columns and then headed out to get a few frames in regular clothing as the sun was going down.
To finish up November, I headed down to Naejangsan with my good friend Roy Cruz to photograph some autumn leaves. It was great to be out photographing Korea again for the sake of making nice images.
December – Family, Event, and Proposal Photographer
After a few days of post-production and delivering some of the images I had made over the course of November, it was time to get December started with some families and a few events. First up was a family I’d met a couple of years ago when they adopted their first son, Gage. This time, they were visiting for their second son, Andrew. We had a beautiful custody day that saw the boys having so much fun together (they hadn’t yet discovered they’d have to share toys!) and Andrew opening the car window on the way home to get a breath of fresh air (Korea loves to super-heat interiors in the winter!). After this, I also got to spend another full day documenting their family, which was an absolute pleasure again. We skipped from the apartment to the palace, up to Seoul Tower, and even headed out for fried chicken. It’s such a pleasure to be able to document just how hard parents work throughout the ups and downs of the day. Thanks again to Alisa and Beau for inviting me to be a part of these precious moments.
Following this, I joined the German Club for their annual Christmas Party before heading out with the Cadwell family to make some family portraits. We started this day with a quick cup of coffee to warm up and get to know each other. Then we headed into Changdeokgung to make some portraits.
In the second week of December, I photographed the Linux Foundation’s Seoul Kubernetes event. As a former tech junkie, it was great to be among those working on the cutting edge again. I learnt a lot about how far the world of software has come while I was shooting, which made for a great day on all fronts.
The following morning, I dropped by the German School to make a few additional portraits. With some new children joining and staff changes, we needed to make a quick update to the previous session. While not quite as many people this time around, it was still a great morning of shooting.
The next week was another rush of photo shoots. Some stand-out ones from this week are Joshua’s proposal to Care on Nami Island and the Mo family custody day and family session in Seoul. A few images from those are below. Nami Island can be a great place to propose, even in winter. It just pays to keep in mind that the pine trees are the only colour on the whole island at this time of year.
In the Christmas week, I had only two sessions and these would be my last of the year. As this season tended towards proposals, this would also be how it finished. First up, Lawrence proposed in the observatory at Sky (Haneul) Park. We had an overcast day, so after a few pictures up there, we moved down to the Oil Tank Culture Park next door for a completely different feel. The final session of the year would be with Sean on Nami Island as he proposed with the beautiful Pillars of Heaven.
If you’ve made it this far, I’d like to thank you for sticking it out over this extremely long season of shooting! Thanks again to all the people who have entrusted me with their photography this year. It has been a pleasure to work with you all and I look forward to seeing many of you in the new year.