The monsoon is here. I’m sitting at my computer now listening to the rain beating on my roof. There is a stack of towels next to the door waiting in case our downpipes can’t handle the volume and we get a little overflow into the hall outside the house. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen! What this situation tells me is that summer is in full swing and it’s about to get really hot here.
We don’t do too many family portraits over the summer because of the sweltering heat and high humidity, but the Olsens were willing to brave it, so we headed out to Gyeongbokgung on one of the hottest days of 2022. Late July can feel a little bit like the surface of the sun here in Korea and our shoot day was definitely pushing the boundaries. In the peak of summer, it’s that debilitating heat that just saps your energy and calls for a cold drink to wash down the cold drink you just finished. From the air-conditioned seat of the bus on my way over, I considered how to best approach the session. I’d definitely need something to keep us going if I was going to hold Maddie and Emma’s attention for an hour-long photo shoot, even though we were starting at the coolest time of day.
We began our session in the relatively cool shade that can almost always be found under the awnings of the palace. The girls had already had enough of the heat but, gradually, I pulled out some genuine smiles with a few silly jokes. As we moved on with the session, it must have occurred to the girls that I wouldn’t know their father’s name. “You keep calling him dad. What’s his name?” they asked. Now, Shannon had told me his name in our email chain and I was well aware, but this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get the girls on my side and distract them from the heat.
So, I “guessed” that his name was Bob. This was met with plenty of laughter and we continued the game between shots as we moved around the palace, all the while avoiding even a name starting with the right letter. Eventually, the girls gave me a hint. It started with a J, they said. So, I began listing off J names until I exhausted all the possibilities that definitely weren’t Jeff. Then, I switched genders and asked if it might be Jane or Josephine. Then we switched languages and tried Jose, Juan, and Jesus. This simple game gave us a way to keep our minds off the ridiculous heat and get us through a session that may have gone very differently had the girls been thinking about the weather. Instead, we got to explore the beautiful grounds of Gyeongbokgung and hunt for patches of shade to work in.
Eventually, we wrapped up the session and I correctly guessed his name. We said our goodbyes and headed our separate ways. Shannon emailed me later that day to let me know the girls had enjoyed the shoot and couldn’t stop talking about all the names I’d given their dad. That’s what we aim for with a family photo shoot: the kids having such a good time that they go home talking about all the fun and games.
If you’re visiting Seoul and would like some family photos of your own, please don’t hesitate to reach out and discuss a session with me. I’d love to hear from you! Also, follow my Instagram for some more family fun and the occasional story about travels in Korea.