This year, as I’m sure it did for many of you, started out in the usual way. For us, that means the usual rush of post-holiday enquires flowing in the door and a lot of sessions where I work hard to look warm so my clients can feel a bit of extra warmth while they enjoy the Korean winter.
January – Proposal, Adoption, and Event Photography
My first session of the year was a perfect example of a winter photoshoot in Seoul. It was a frigid January morning, but we wanted to get a specific scene in some great light with nobody else around. For that, 9 AM in winter is the perfect time! On my way over, I snagged this quick frame that I feel encompasses much of Seoul, a mix of old and new. Winter light helps carry this, of course! The slow-rising sun gives gorgeous light for much of the morning in Winter. If you can brave the cold air, it’s well worth heading out!
My next session was with Sarah and Paul for their first meeting with YeJoon. This was one of those meetings that just couldn’t have gone better. There were so many tender moments that were mixed in with the gregarious laughs that come from adults putting their reservations aside and being kids as well. It was beautiful to watch.
Right after this session, I hopped on a plane and headed down to Jeju Island to work with my long term client, Jeannetic Koncepts, for their conference with Zebra Technologies. This is one of those events that is go-go-go while it is on and all the staff show a lot of empathy whenever their eyes meet. It is a massive undertaking and is made up of some very long days. The guests are a really enthusiastic group, however, and this keeps everyone having fun. Lyn and her team make sure everything goes off perfectly every single time and they’re a pleasure to work for. You can see a full set from this event here.
Of course, no trip to Jeju would be complete without a bit of photography of the island. So, I made the absolute best of the half-day I had waiting for my flight home and visited a couple of my favourite locations.
Then I flew back to Seoul and almost immediately boarded a train out to Nami Island for a proposal. That gorgeous metasequoia avenue is only empty just after the first ferry arrives, so we scheduled yet another shivery session in the freezing morning air. Who could say “no” to someone willing to organise this? I sure couldn’t! Congrats ladies!
Back to Seoul again and it was time for a family session after custody for the Shumakers. Again, we had that beautiful winter light that just makes everything feel so warm except your body. Best to keep things moving on days like this. It’s certainly not as toasty as it looks!
Yet another flight awaited me after this session. I had promised my wife I would take her to Tokyo Disney and in order to deliver on that, I’d also have to board a flight to Tokyo. Aside from Disney, we planned nothing at all for our stay in Tokyo. But, we found ourselves hitting up a few of the tourist haunts we’d never done despite several visits and, finally, fulfilling a boyhood dream to see Mt Fuji with my own eyes.
A visit to Tokyo wouldn’t be right without catching up with my brother-from-another-mother, Andy Faulk. As always, he threw the intimidating task of photographing his family at me. My photographer friends will know just how frightening it is to have another photographer ask you for session. Check out Andy’s work if you’re ever in Tokyo.
A quick flight back to Seoul and I was back on the train to Nami Island. This time, we’d planned a little quieter corner of the island and a slightly later start. It was still chilly, though, so we kept things moving. That’s an easy task when you have two outgoing and clearly in love people who would need to be pried apart to be apart. What a great session!
Back in Seoul and it was adoption first meeting time again. I stopped by Eastern Social Welfare Society for two sessions in a row. The first session was a quiet and subtle one with the Cuyler family. This was one of those sessions where each and ever moment has a meaning that is easily missed. It took quite a bit of concentration to capture them all. Thankfully, Eastern has a great coffee shop downstairs that support’s single mothers in Korea. I stopped by there again to refuel and meet my next family, the Saunders. After a quick coffee, we headed upstairs to meet Bokyeom. This was yet another session at full speed. Bokyeom absolutely loved everything about this time with his parents. Laughs and love could only be put to a halt by the meeting time being up. You can see the full set from this session here.
I then took a couple of quick days off to process everything I’d photographed so far before my annual trip for Tattoos of Asia. With the post-production wrapped, my good friend Roy Cruz and I headed down to Danyang in the hopes of a misty morning before our joint-event working with the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Korea for the 2020 Australia Day celebrations. While the morning was a failure (no fog), the evening was a blast and we had a great time photographing the festivities. It’s always great working with my country folk here in Seoul and great to see our representation in the local craft brewing scene. Fantastic stuff, Moonbear!
February – Travel Photography (in 2020!)
After a couple of days of post-production, I flew to Myanmar to meet the various Naga tribes of the Naga Self-Administered Zone. It took us 4 full days of travel before we met the first subjects for this round of research, but it was well worth it! I got some fantastic additions to the project from this trip and they’re being added to the book right now. In order to keep up-to-date on that, subscribe to the newsletter on my personal site. You can also follow the project on my personal Instagram.
Due to certain travel issues that acquired pandemic status shortly thereafter, we found ourselves coming down from the Naga Hills a little early and spending some more time in Yangon. Having been there almost a dozen times over the years, I focused my efforts on catching up with friends and enjoying life in the city rather than keeping busy with tourist activities. Nonetheless, a couple of visits to Yangon Central and a moment to appreciate Shwedagon again were in order. Those done, it was time to fly home.
March – Family Photography
My first port of call when I arrived back was the rather invasive and uncomfortable COVID-19 test I volunteered for knowing that I’d be working with families in just a few days’ time. Peace of mind was absolutely worth the 30-second nose-swab that believe tickled a nerve. Those weren’t tears of pain, I swear! My first session back was with the Maniquez family. Despite being March, the weather was still chilly and the trees bare. It takes a while for Korea’s winter to truly fade away. But, the benefit of this is that beautiful winter light still being around. We made use of that in a few of our frames and had a great time until the chill settled in and we decided to wrap up the session.
My next couple of sessions you’ve seen on this blog before. They were with the Saunders and Osbeck families. Thankfully, we had some slightly warmer days and could enjoy the outdoors a little more. Both of these sessions were some of my favourites of the year and you can see the Saunders family here and the Osbeck family here for more.
With that gorgeous little yawn, we’ll wrap up this quarter’s review with just one last session. This one was with the Graves family and their growing tribe. It was one of those non-stop meetings with kids bouncing from one activity to the next and never stopping to take a breath. What a way to wrap up this quarter! Thanks to my readers for sticking this out with me and thanks to everyone who I worked with over this three-month period. I hope you’re all healthy and happy. See you in next week’s Year in Review post.