This is the final post in my 2022 Year in Review series. The final quarter of this year saw Korea’s border control relax even more and, with that, a massive influx of visitors from abroad. This may be the busiest we have ever been during the final quarter of the year. This will be a long post, so please do get a cup of tea and settle in. Many of these sessions will also become full blogs as 2023 progresses, so do follow my social media and stop by from time to time in order to see those. But for now, let’s take a look at the longest autumn I’ve ever experienced in Seoul!
October – Family, Couple, Proposal, and Event Photography
Starting off with families this month, I had the pleasure of working with quite a few little people and their parents. First up was a session with Mackenzie. This little lady was full of spunk and we had a great time together. The session was overflowing with energy and we covered a lot of ground. For the last few minutes, we brought grandpa in for a couple of shots as he hadn’t seen her since before the world stopped. Shortly after, I got to see another family I haven’t seen for a few years. Young Avery had grown so much but still had his mischievous streak. This was another fun family photo shoot in beautiful autumn light.
I also had the chance to work again with another family from spring this year. While I don’t normally take on a session with a newborn, this one was an exception I was willing to make. We had to complete the story from the previous session. Followed by this was another session at Gyeongbokgung with a family I spoke to years ago but couldn’t make my schedule work for and then one final session at Seoul Forest. Autumn is a truly gorgeous time of year, as you can see.
October was a whirlwind for couple photography. Thankfully, we had a long and absolutely perfect autumn this year, which meant that all sessions went off without a hitch. To get things going, I worked with Alex to make his proposal to Celina something truly special on a rooftop he had rented out. Having a private space like this meant that we were able to decorate it exactly how he was hoping.
Keeping with the nighttime theme, my next session with Fiona and Nhan took us down to Banpo Han River Park for a cloudy evening/night shoot with the city as our background. We’d hoped for a gorgeous sunset and some fuller autumn leaves, but instead were given some light rain and a permanent cloud cover. Not to worry, though, we leaned into what we were given and came away with some lovely pre-wedding photos for them. Not too long later, I had another session in the same area with Anj and Jayson. On that day, we got vastly different conditions and were able to make a very different set of images.
Next up, I headed out to Nami Island for Gerald’s proposal to Cheryl. As with all Nami Island proposals, I suggested shooting just after sunrise to avoid the crowds. This means we can make use of the gorgeous lanes of trees before they get busy. Much like Seoul, Nami had just started to change to autumn colours and most of the island was that bronze-green we get before things suddenly turn brown, orange, yellow, and red. Even so, it was a gorgeous morning and there was nobody around. Cheryl could hardly believe Gerald was proposing then and there. This would set the tone for the upcoming proposals of the quarter.
Back in Seoul, the trees were much the same; just waiting for the moment they would change. In an early morning session with Phung and Dennis, we made the best of the cool air and beautiful light that autumn brings. Despite not having full fall colours yet, the persimmons were out, so we had to stop by the famous tree! Soon after, I also had another wonderful pre-wedding photography session with Andrew and Manda. We covered both Changdeokgung for its architecture and then Changgyeonggung for the forest land. This combination is great if you don’t mind a bit of walking and have a couple of hours for your session.
Following these few photo shoots, the leaves began their quick change and the whole city of Seoul began to come alive with autumn colours. All the lucky folks who booked their sessions for this time got one of the best shows of fall colour I’ve seen in years here. We had just over two weeks of beautiful leaves in and around Seoul, which is far more than the usual week or so we get. Starting with Justian’s proposal to Vania, we saw all the beauty that autumn has to offer as well as one of the most beautiful reactions to a proposal I’ve seen to date. Justian and I had organised a violinist who would be playing one of their favourite songs as they arrived. Vania had always wanted to learn the violin, so this was a perfect nod to that from him. The sunrise offered us some really beautiful light on the trees, as well. The morning really couldn’t have gone any better!
Following this, I headed down to Jeju Island for the last remnants of the pink muhly grass with Daniel and Adel. In Seoul, this grass was already cut back for the winter, but there were still some patches left on Jeju and I managed to convince the owner of one of the plots to let us in early in the morning before she opened to the public. For the couple of weeks that this grass is around, it gets Instagram-crazy, so this was our only real option. It was extremely windy, but we managed to make it all happen for this special event.
I then flew straight back to Seoul for a quickfire round of autumn proposals. Eugene, Jun Hong, and Kelvin all got really lucky with their timing, which was right around the peak of autumn this year. With locations like Changgyeong and Seoul Forest, if the timing is right, it can be extremely beautiful. Here are a few from that time. All three of these proposals were not even slightly leaked and each of the recipients was absolutely over the moon. Emotions like this make it such a joy to photograph the couple afterward as well!
During this period, I also had two of my favourite pre-wedding photo shoots I’ve had in a long time. Everything just seemed to line up with these two shoots. My couples had both reached out early and let me know exactly what they were after and they both stated that they were first-timers in front of the camera and would need a lot of help. The light was perfect, the leaves were at their peak, and both couples showed up a little early to make things happen. Abel and Melissa joined me at Seoul Forest for an early morning shoot where we made use of everything from the first rays of sunrise all the way through to the harshness of the 9am light during autumn. Jerome and Fionn chose to work in World Cup Park with a little Sky Park tacked on the end for good measure. Knowing that World Cup Park tends to be a lot calmer than Seoul Forest in the afternoons, I suggested we take the sunset route for that session. Full blogs from both these sessions will come early 2023. follow my Instagram and Facebook for an announcement of those.
To round out the month’s couple sessions, I met up with Richard for his proposal at the Garden of Morning Calm. There’s absolutely nothing calm about this place, except the very first moments when they open in the morning, so we decided on being first in the gate. For this one, we had the added complexity of having a video team as well, so we worked together to make the most of the morning light. The couple was ecstatic about not only the event, but also the beauty we had in the peak of autumn. So, this made the morning a complete success. We only called off the shoot because the light was getting way too harsh for us to work.
The rest of this month was filled with several government and corporate functions, as well as the annual school portraits for the Seoul German School. As always, the German school was a blast and it was the first time in three years we’ve been able to remove our masks for the group photos! Hopefully, this is a sign of good things to come! Below are also several images from Austcham Korea’s Taste of Australia 2.0 event, a critical minerals roundtable jointly held between Korea and Australia, a visit from the South Australian Premier, and the annual Commonwealth Chambers Networking Event.
November – Event, Family, Couple, and Proposal Photography
To kick November off, I worked with my team to fulfill the photography needs of another huge event put on by MCI Hong Kong and Macau. It was a three-day conference for FWD where delegates from banks all over South East Asia gathered to discuss ways they can improve their insurance offerings and digitise their products to further reach their communities. In true MCI fashion, the event was staged and lit beautifully, making our job all about finding angles to show off the set and the people in it.
Another event that is always set up and lit in a wonderful fashion is KGCCI’s Innovation Awards. This year was no exception. In addition to the event photography itself, we always run a photobooth with onsite printing for the guests. As always, we need to test that booth before the guests arrive and, as always, we tend to create an image to remember. We can never say that we don’t love doing what we do!
This month also had its fair share of couples and proposals for me to photograph. Early on, I worked with Rajee and Reece for their pre-wedding photos. This was in the last few days of autumnal foliage. By the first week of November, we’re usually struggling to find any leaves at all, but this year there were still a few trees around that we could make some beautiful images with.
Next, I headed back out to Nami Island for Wei Shien’s proposal to Sharmin. We knew the autumn was all but over, so we were looking for a scene that would still work at this time of year. Thankfully, the maples were still blazing red and we came across this scene with a waterfall. Usually, there’s a little fog rising off the water during the autumn at Nami Island, but we hadn’t banked on the fog being so thick we’d only be able to see a few metres in front of us! This presented a bit of a challenge for the photos but resulted in something absolutely unique. More to come from this session in a full blog soon!
Next, I headed back to Seoul for David’s proposal. This was one of the most involved setups I’ve worked on so far. David wanted there to be an element of retracing their steps together and decided on a photo board they could solve together year by year to see who could remember when they’d taken certain photos. This resulted in plenty of laughter and a very different set of images from my usual proposals. Shortly after this, I headed back down to Jeju Island for Enoch’s proposal. In my last post, I talked about how nice the light can be at Jeongbang Falls in the afternoons. This is that session. Around the winter season, when the days are short, we’re able to hide in the shadow of the cliff and get beautiful frames here.
For my final two couple photo shoots of the month, I headed back to Seoul for Chris’ proposal along the Han River and Kevin and Sarina’s pre-wedding shoot at Changdeokgung. By this stage, all the autumn foliage was completely gone, so making use of the city skyline for Chris and the palace for Kevin and Sarina were our best options. Light can be lovely at this time of year, but it’s starting to get very cool!
To round out the month, I worked with the Lee, Whiting, and Cadwell families. Thankfully, all three families got relatively warm days for their shoots and we didn’t have to contend with cold children. The Lee family did find out how cool things are in autumn compared to their home in Singapore, though. Thankfully, they rugged up well and we were able to get some great shots for them. The Whiting family opted for the autumn leaves in Seoul Forest Park and we were lucky to have a few trees left. Little pockets of leaves are what is left by this time of year so finding those is key. The Cadwell family actually joined me a few years back when they adopted their son. This time around, a lovely young lady would be joining their ranks and they wanted to get a few images of their first days together. A full blog of that session will arrive soon as well.
December – Proposal, Family, and Event Photographer
December, for us, is usually a quiet month for outdoor sessions as winter begins and people settle in for the holiday season. This year was a little different. I had several couple sessions and family sessions along with the regular end-of-year functions. Let’s kick things off with the big one held by the British Chamber of Commerce Korea. Their annual Christmas Lunch is a huge gathering of all those involved in the UK-Korea relationship and is one of the busiest events we shoot as photographers each year. This year, Roy Cruz took the lead and I supported him in ensuring all the sponsors were photographed while he covered the main speeches.
This month, I traveled north, south, east, and west for proposals. Beginning with east, I headed out to Nami Island with Wei Thong for his morning proposal. At this time of year, Nami Island is barren, but there is one small avenue of evergreen pines to work with, as well as the geometric shapes created by the bare trees. Following this, it was time to go south to Jeju Island with Lewis Kim. He had chosen the top of Songaksan, which we used previously with another proposal, for its beautiful view of the island. That day, there was a snowstorm raging over Hallasan and we got some of the most spectacular views I’ve seen there to date. See the end of this post for a few landscape images of that day as well.
Next up, I headed back east to work with Boon Siang on his mountaintop winter proposal. We took the cable car up to Balwangsan and I set up a series of framed images from their lives along the snowy path to lead them to the proposal location. After a slow walk, a couple of slips, and plenty of laughter, we made it to the spot where Boon Siang had asked me to set up a heart of flowers for them and he put his knee on the, rather chilly, ground. It was a beautiful afternoon, if a little frigid at -7 degrees. That turned out to be positively warm, however, as my next proposal was out west at Paradise City on Yeongjong-do, Incheon. That morning was -17 when I left the hotel and scuttled my way across the frozen paths to get to the location. When Gabriel turned up, we shot quickly and then ducked in and out of the warmth to get them a few additional shots without freezing too much. To my equatorial brethren, Korea’s winter is a lot colder than you might think just by looking at the numbers!
Finally, it was time to go north in Seoul for the last couple of proposals of the year. Armin proposed at Changdeokgung in Seoul on a chilly, but sunny day. Hailey’s reaction was absolutely priceless and her mood did not lapse for one second. She was so excited and that made my job such a joy that afternoon. For my final proposal of the year, I met up with Ace and Gabby at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. Ace had found a temporary installation on Instagram and wanted to see if it was still up and doable for his proposal. I headed over to check it out and it was looking great, but a little busy. We discussed ways to make it happen and eventually settled on waiting in line together for the installation and then him handing the “stranger” behind his phone to take a couple of pictures. He’d then take it away.
I also had four rather chilly family sessions over the course of December. Kathleen and her family wanted some hanbok photos to commemorate their big trip to Seoul. The cold weather made it tough on the little one, but we all worked together to get some smiles. My next session was with the Wilkinsons for their post-adoption photos. As with many little people this close to custody, Uju was all about running around and escaping our grasp. Lots of action at that session!
My next session was with another family visiting from Singapore. There was still a little snow left on the rooftops and, in certain shaded areas, on the ground. So, we made sure to stop by those and get some photographs with that extra little bit of uniqueness. My final session of the year was another post-custody family photo shoot with a much less active young lady who simply wanted to be held all the time. We spent a great deal of our session going back and forth between wanting to be held by mum or dad, which gave me ample opportunities to get photographs for both parents!
Now, I’d be remiss to not include a couple of images from my regular work with Foot Locker, so here are a couple of those. To round out this giant post, I’ve also included a few of my favourite personal images that I’ve taken while on the road this quarter. There are some stormy scenes from Jeju Island, the last maples of autumn from Nami Island, and a few images from my foggy morning cycling adventures.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this final post in my 2022 year in review. If you’ve made it this far, I thank you for taking the time. Please don’t forget to follow my Instagram and Facebook. See you again in a couple of weeks’ time with a brand new blog post from one of these sessions.