In this third installment to the Year in Review series for 2020, we’ll be focusing quite heavily on some of the most dramatic weather we’ve had for a long while. I spent most of this quarter working on a big commercial job that will be revealed early next year when the company has made its official launch. Until then, there are a few behind the scenes photos here and plenty of the work I got up to surrounding those jobs. I hope you’ll enjoy this journey through quarter three with me.
July – Event and Family Photographer
The first job of the quarter was actually the first assignment on this commercial job. Of course, I don’t subscribe to the all-work-and-no-play lifestyle, so following the days of shooting with our client, my ever-so-amazing assistant, Roy Cruz, and I made an effort to at least explore a little of the town we were staying in for the duration of the assignment. This time around, that meant exploring the “Innovation City” area of Jinju. This gave us some interesting views of the Nam River and its surroundings. Since it was summer, there were also daily fumigation bikes riding around the city with billowing clouds of mosquito poison trailing behind them. Glad we had our KF-94 masks on for that.
Summer doesn’t only mean mosquitoes. It also means monsoon time and this year’s monsoon was quite intense. We had significant rain and almost constant cloud cover for the whole month. As you’ll see in some upcoming images, that didn’t exclude my shoots for the client, either. For now, though, Roy and I were taking our post-shoot-personal-work day to shoot the coastline north of Busan. With most of that being a wash, we decided to head north to Hongryongsa and see what the misty mountains would hold for us. It ended up being one of our best decisions of the year. What a place to explore in the mist!
Getting back to Seoul, I spent a few days cycling the Han River in the summer heat. This year, we’ve had much clearer skies than usual over the summer and it has been great for making some nicer looking images of the city from the cycling paths. Here are a few of my favourites from this time.
I then had the pleasure of photographing this raucous first meeting with the Brennan family. Slides and non-stop laughter meant that the one-hour meeting just wasn’t enough. After this, I had another few days off to head out and enjoy some of the most dramatic skies I’ve ever seen in Korea. The monsoon this year brought us all sorts of cloud formations and, on our lucky days, some beautiful sunsets.
I then had a quick opportunity to work with my friends at Luneil Silk on their first promotional event in Seoul. It was a really successful day for them and I was glad to be there to document it. Directly after this, I jumped on a train and headed back down south for the second shoot for my commercial client. As always, Roy and I followed this shoot with a quick personal trip. This time, we visited Miryang for a quick morning session in a local park.
While I was away working down south, Seoul received a lot of rain and I returned to a Han River that had flooded. Water levels were extremely high when I got back and it was an interesting time to visit the bike paths and observe what our earth’s systems are capable of. One thing mother nature is not capable of, however, is convincing Seoul’s fishermen to stay home. Here are a couple of frames from my visit to the river.
August – Family Photographer
August is always a quiet month for photographers in Seoul. Local businesses are taking their annual holidays, the weather is extremely hot, and the monsoon settles in properly. This year was no different, and we had the pandemic in full swing in addition to that. For the first half of the month, I spent quite a bit of time exploring and witnessing the monsoon this year. All the rivers and streams in Seoul flooded heavily this year. The rain was non-stop for weeks on end. It has been years since our floods were this bad and it certainly made for an interesting time to explore the city.
We had a couple of days break in the rain and I had the pleasure of photographing the Alexander family at Changdeokgung. My full post about this session details the experience, but let’s just say it was hot, really hot. It was great to work with a family again despite the heat though, and we got some cute frames for them to take home.
With the rains slowing down for a couple of days and the bike paths reopened, I took the chance to ride up to the Bukhansan National Park and see the monsoon clouds forming around the granite peaks. These clouds and peaks always remind me of Korea’s soomookhwa paintings. If you can get past the rains and stay safe, it’s a truly magical time of year.
Next up, it was back down to Jinju to work on that assignment again. This time, we’d get a mix of blistering sun and pouring rain. On set, we worked hard to created promotional images for the client. The weather tried to stop us several times, but perseverance and a couple of long days got us through our shot-list and then some. Below, you can see a shot of us working but the photos from this shoot will have to wait until next year.
Our regular post-assignment personal shoot took us to a small waterfall in Hapcheon and then into the Gayasan National Park to visit Haeinsa. Both Roy and I had been meaning to get there for years, but the timing never lined up. Unfortunately, our visit was around 10 years too late. The Tripitaka Koreana has been sealed off to visitors and is now only viewable from outside the building. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the visit and made plenty of images.
With Seoul’s monsoon ongoing when I returned, the river was high and the clouds were dramatic. This was the perfect time to get out and ride again. Below are a couple of frames from the same place only 24 hours apart. What a summer we had!
My last session of the month was with the Brown family as they met their little boy for the first time. It was a tender meeting with plenty of great bonding between parents and child. Here are a couple of frames to wrap up the month of August.
September – Family and Editorial Photographer
The very next morning, I headed back over to meet with two more adoptive families. The Osters were first up and they’d be meeting a bubbly little man named MinHyeok. Unfortunately, masks had just been made completely mandatory in Seoul due to rising infection rates and we had to do the whole session masked. However, there were still plenty of fun little moments to be had. Following this, I grabbed a quick bite to eat and then moved next door for my next meeting. Ben was visiting on his own as his wife had stayed back home to take care of their other children, so documenting this session was extra special.
The rains continued as I prepared for my next assignment down south in the ongoing saga I cannot share yet. This time around, my train actually got canceled due to an incoming typhoon and I had to leave a day early to make it safely and on time. Arriving in Changwon, I instantly found out why they had canceled it. Umbrellas were being blown out of hands and the pouring rain was relentless. The typhoon hadn’t even got close yet! Overnight, the winds howled and signs were ripped from buildings. By the time I got up the following morning, however, things had calmed down and people were getting back to their regular lives. I took a quick walk around the block before settling back into my hotel room and waiting for the team to arrive.
We managed to remember to shoot some behind the scenes images again, so you can see us hard at work as well. I’ve also included a frame of the gentleman who cooked us breakfast every morning. Without him, we would all have withered away by mid-morning; these were some long days! Since both Roy and I are brand ambassadors for f-stop, we also decided to take the opportunity this location afforded to make a quick selfie with our bags.
When I arrived back in Seoul, the weather had improved significantly. So, my wife and I decided to cycle down to Anyang, where I first lived in Korea, to see what had become of it. On our way down, we made our way through Geumcheon-gu, which has done a great job of landscaping the banks of the Anyang Stream. Some of the locals had even masked up the Jangseung along the stream with the words “You’re dead, COVID!” written on them. During our visit to Anyang, we made our way up to a small temple in the mountains and spent some time talking with one of the monks. It was a refreshing break from the bad weather and busy few weeks of work. It was also a good chance for me to learn more about my new GF 45-100mm lens that I’d be using for upcoming shoots.
Later in the week, I headed down to Jeonju with the Social Innovation in the Community team again to meet up with our next subject. This time, we’d be interviewing a lady who is aiming to improve the real-estate situation in Korea. While entire neighbourhoods are leveled in favour of concrete monoliths, other districts simply become abandoned as more and more people crowd the city of Seoul. One solution is to take these homes and repurpose them as long-term guesthouses, cafes, or even permanent homes rather than letting them go to waste. It was good to see someone bucking the trend of disposable possessions here in Korea.
One of the final shoots on this huge assignment I undertook this quarter would take us to Pyeongtaek. On the morning after this assignment was complete, Roy and I took the chance to walk around the new district of Gwanggyo and see how the other half lives. We got the best light we’ve seen on any of the shoots so far and it was the day after we wrapped up! We then grabbed a coffee before I headed back up to Seoul, switched out my kit, and went for a quick afternoon session with the Dearman family. Four kids always makes for a complex shoot, but everyone was on their best behaviour and we had a fantastic afternoon together.
My last session for this quarter would be a Jurassic Park inspired shoot brought to you by the Martin family. We had an absolute blast with Hanbhit and his two favourite toys. This close to custody, children can often be completely inseparable from their comforts and we roll with those punches at our sessions. You can see this full session here.
So, there we are. That is what a quarter looks like when you take out 75% (that’s an exact number!) of the work you shot during that time. I hope you’ve enjoyed what I have shared so far. Stay tuned early next year for the other work from this quarter. I also look forward to sharing the last moments of this year with you in my final post in the series. As always, please do follow my Instagram and Facebook accounts. See you next week!