Welcome one and all to my 2023 Year in Review. Carrying on the tradition of previous years, this will be a look at many of my activities as a photographer in Korea this year. In this first quarter, we started slowly as we always do. But, as the world started to defrost, the work began! I hope you’ll enjoy the mix of families, couples, events, and even travel photography in this first quarter.
January – Family, Couple, eCommerce, and Travel Photography
To kick off the year, I had a fun family photo shoot and a wonderful engagement session in the gorgeous winter light at two of Seoul’s palaces. Winter might be cold, but it delivers some of the most beautiful light of the year. Popping in and out of our jackets, we dotted our way around the palace grounds and made the most of the afternoon sun. If you can brave it, winter is an amazing time for a photo shoot.
From this year, the regular Foot Locker eCommerce shoots that Roy Cruz and I undertake gained a new dimension. Not only would we be photographing flat-lay objects this year, but models as well. Our first shoot was all winter stock as it was January and it was a good chance to get a feel for the way things needed to happen before ramping up the frequency and size of the shoots for the rest of the year. A big thanks to the team and our model Jihee for making this such a great shoot!
Then, after a whirlwind edit and delivery of all the above, I jumped on a plane with my bike packed nicely into my PostCarry Co bag and made my way to Hanoi. I spent the next 7 days cycling down to Hoi An in the (mostly) pouring rain! The honking trucks, moped riders scooting alongside for a chat, and the kids high-fiving me out the window of their cars as I rode along made it all worth it, though! Vietnam is always a treat and it didn’t disappoint this time. Here are a few images from the ride.
February – Event and Travel Photography
February, as it tends to be, was quiet for us with just one event to photograph. This was with AJC Food for their 50th anniversary. There were some short formalities, but the vast majority of this job was capturing the staff celebrating. They definitely made it easy with their high spirits and beautiful location choices.
With this month as quiet as it was, I took some time to travel for myself to Jeju and even head down to Tongyeong for a quick cycling journey with, you guessed it, Roy Cruz! As you’ll see throughout this series, we spent quite a bit of time together this year! It was hard to resist the invite, though, when we’d be riding around Goseong, Korea’s dinosaur town!
March – Proposal, e-Commerce, Event, Couple, and Family Photography
March couldn’t be more different than February. As Korea starts to warm up and people start to go outside again, I get a lot more bookings and the busy season begins. This year, it started with a visit to Busan for Pin Sian’s proposal to Fion. He had decided on a beach location and a visit to Huiyeoul Culture Village afterwards. We got a gorgeous, cloud-free afternoon with much warmer weather than was expected. It really couldn’t have gone better! Of course, a visit to Busan wouldn’t be complete without an ocean walk and a visit to a couple of local markets.
Then it was straight back up to Seoul for another shoot with the Foot Locker eCommerce photography team. This time, I worked with Yohan, which was another great experience. We coupled this shoot with a flat-lay shoot the day before which made for a busy couple of days!
With the studio at my disposal, I couldn’t resist getting a new portrait of my partner-in-crime, Roy Cruz. Always a pleasure to work with you, sir!
Following this, I covered an afternoon event for the Korea arm of TÜV SÜD at the gorgeous Vista Hall in Seoul’s Floating Islands. This venue is spectacular when you get the afternoon sun flowing through the windows and we were blessed with that for this event. Following that were a couple of alumni events for the University of Toronto and the University of Minnesota. Both were a lot of fun and it was great to see a gathering of Koreans who had studied abroad.
Next up, I had a few family sessions in quick succession, all with adoptive families I had worked with in the past. It was great to see so many familiar faces returning to Korea and having a chance to work with their children as they grow older. Thanks to the Armstrong, Jones, and Perdon-Maniquez families for once again entrusting me with their precious memories. It was great to see you all!
To round out the month, I visited Jeju not once, not twice, but three times for proposal shoots, all with commitments in Seoul in between. The first of these was at Seopjikoji with Shizhe and Min Yee. We had been planning this one for a long time and it was great to finally see it come to life. We had an overcast day that really helped the rapeseed flowers stand out against the ocean background. These lovely flowers give the transition between winter and spring on Jeju a few splashes of colour around the island.
Around my shoot with Shizhe, I spent a little time up on Seopjikoji scouting the area for potential shoot locations and, of course, getting a few other images of the area. It’s not somewhere I normally spend time, so it was great to explore a new spot!
Next up, I worked with Elroy and Jean for another surprise proposal. This time, we picked Noksanro, a beautiful street of rapeseed flowers and cherry blossoms. Based on the predictions of the KMA, we set our date and crossed our fingers that the cherry blossoms would bloom in time and last long enough for us. I was nervously following the most recent Instagram posts for the area and seeing the flowers slowly bloom. When I arrived the day before to do our final scout and find the exact location for the shoot, the whole street was in full bloom. It was spectacular! That was not only a relief for this session, but for the one I had coming up two days later. After a quick flight back to Seoul for an event and then back down to Jeju, I spent the morning with Kliment for his proposal as well! The sunrise never eventuated due to cloud cover, but we did have the freedom to work anywhere at all thanks to the lack of people at that time!
Jumping back to Seoul, I had one more shoot with Foot Locker for the quarter. This time, Jungook joined us in the studio and made the day a big success again. This was also the day when our team shots started to take on their new form. Check back in part two of this series for the escalation of these images!
To finalise my shooting for the quarter, I had an assignment for Cebu Pacific’s in-flight magazine, Smile Magazine. They wanted to cover the cherry blossom season in Seoul, but things weren’t quite in full bloom yet across most of the city! The crowds, however, as they are every year, were intense. My editor was hoping for a shot of a couple picnicking under a cherry blossom or something similarly romantic. Unfortunately, Seoul is either zero or one hundred, and there isn’t anything in between. But, with some careful cropping and a lot of searching, I was able to come back with a few images that would work for the article.
Thanks to everyone I’ve worked with in this quarter. It’s been a pleasure to spend time with you and make images together. Check back in next week for round two of my Year in Review when things really ramp up and we flit back and forth around the country for shoot after shoot.