Welcome back to part 2 of this year’s Year in Review post series. As the weather warmed up, this year really took flight and it was one of the busiest quarters we’ve ever had. I hope you’ll enjoy a peek into some of the sessions from that time.
April – Family, Couple, Proposal, Editorial, eCommerce and Event Photography
To kick off April, I had a session with the Brady family in the VERY early blooming cherry and plum blossoms. We rarely see them in full bloom in the first week of April, so it was great to have some unexpected colour around for this shoot.
Next were some back-to-back sessions the following day when the blossoms had peaked and almost disappeared in another part of Seoul. These short-lived little beauties are extremely fragile and a little rain and wind did away with them as quickly as they came. Still, I was able to find a couple of pockets of remaining blossoms for Martin’s proposal and also Claudius and Michelle’s engagement session. While not as full as the day before, the trees still provided a few vignettes for us to shoot in.
This quarter would quickly become a season of meeting old friends and photographing families I have known for years. To kick this off, I had a quiet family photo session with Melanie and Jiu just after custody. With all her other boys back home at work and school, Melanie was here for just a short time with little Jiu and this was a special moment for the two of them. It was a foggy morning with rain predicted from lunchtime, but we managed to squeeze in a few moments together before the weather turned sour.
Next up, two more couple sessions one after the other with very different weather. Spring can be beautiful, but it can turn immediately as well. For Daniel’s proposal at Gyeongbokgung, we had some gorgeous morning light that was just the icing on the cake for this perfect moment. While still a little chilly, the winter had broken, so we could easily spend most of our follow-up session without jackets off. Then headed over to meet Catherine and Wilson for their pre-wedding photo shoot. It was great to work with some Aussies again and hear that familiar accent. But, some unexpected rain before the session and more predicted after meant that we had to switch up our location on the fly and we ended up settling on the idea of trying out a Korean traditional bar to finish up the night. Soju and Kimchi pancakes are always a winning combination!
Then, it was back to some family photography and yet another lovely day with the Chan family at Changdeokgung. I don’t often work with older kids, so it was an interesting dynamic and we were able to come away with some images that are a little different from my usual sessions. It wasn’t long before I was back to my regular shenanigans with the Mulligan family though. Little Jihun was a riot and we had a great time bringing out his gorgeous smiles!
What would be a month without an eCommerce photoshoot for Foot Locker? Certainly not this month! We also tentatively started a tradition of having a team shot this time around. That will get ramped up in the coming months, so stay tuned for those!
For the first time in a while, I was given the opportunity to return to my photographic roots with an editorial portrait for Accounting & Business magazine. With the number of printed magazines in decline, I now relish every moment I get to create something for print and meet an interesting person so far out of my sphere. I didn’t get to enjoy it for too long, though, as the subject was busy, it was pouring rain, and I had a flight to catch down to Jeju Island for my next shoot, a young gentleman proposing with the island as his background.
Unfortunately, the island was blanketed in a thick fog. Honestly, I adored the ethereal look it gave to a normally familiar place, but after much deliberation, we decided to push the shoot back to when the couple visited Seoul in a couple of weeks’ time. Still, I made the most of the free time to capture some images for myself on the trip.
Immediately after arriving back in Seoul, I went out for yet another proposal. This time, Steve proposed to Veronica at Seonyudo Park in Seoul. Even after the flowers have dropped, this avenue of cherry-blossom trees makes for a gorgeous background for any session.
My next session was a “Part 1” with the Graham family before they took custody of their youngest child. We got together with the current crew to make one last set of images together before number four joined the ranks. We had a great session filled with all sorts of fun and silliness.
Following this was a shoot with some slightly older young people for the annual KGCCI Ausbildung Graduation Event. This brings together dozens of young people who have decided to take on the challenge of certifying themselves as mechanics for Germany’s largest car brands. In a society where aiming to work at the big “S” company is valued so highly, it’s great to be in the room with people who have chosen something different and genuinely set their minds to it. A beautiful location doesn’t hurt the photos, either!
To round out the month, I joined KS at Seoul Forest for his proposal. The couple were traveling with their close friends, so it seemed a shame not to include them in a couple of images as well.
May – Family eCommerce, Event, Proposal, and Couple Photography
To kick the month of May off, I met up with Douglas for his proposal. You may recall that we rescheduled a proposal from Jeju Island in April. This is that proposal. There’s not so much ocean at Peace Park in Seoul, but it’s equally as beautiful in its own way!
Then, it was back to Changdeokgung for another family photo shoot. We had an absolutely glorious afternoon for this shoot and it was hard to go wrong! Some of my favourite moments for the quarter were captured at this shoot and the full blog post is coming early next year!
Our May (and June) shoots with Foot Locker was a purely flat lay one for a change of pace and, honestly, in amongst all these sessions, I was glad for a change of pace! Having control over the light and subjects that stay in place was a breath of fresh air.
After this, I was ready to go again. I had two separate trips to Jeju for two separate proposals. Jeju really couldn’t have behaved more differently for each, either! For Giin Yeang’s proposal, the rain and wind were relentless. After a quick clandestine meeting with him at the local convenience store, we decided to go ahead with the shoot regardless and it ended up being one of the more memorable proposals in my time as a photographer. In the pouring rain and lashing wind, the couple’s emotions were amplified and the moments were raw and real. More to come in the final blog post! For Bryan’s proposal, we had a perfectly calm day with whispy white clouds in a perfect blue sky. It couldn’t have been more different!
After a quick flight back to Seoul, I crossed town and dropped my bags in a locker to meet up with the Cuyler family again for their first photos with their daughter. This joyous session was yet another reminder that I am privileged to be a part of the journeys of so many families. This trend would only continue as I met with the Harrison family again for their second adoption. It was great to work with them again and create additional memories for their children.
Soon following this, I met up with Sharon and her family for an early morning session at Gyeongbokgung. I always love the challenge of getting little ones to open up in the early morning and enjoy a photo session. This one was no different. The final session in this string of family photo shoots was my second shoot with the Graham family after taking custody of their youngest. We filled this session with just as much energy and laughter as we did the first one so they could be seamlessly meshed into a since set. Look out for a combined blog post of those sessions in the new year.
In a complete change of pace from this, I next photographed the White Asparagus Dinner for the KGCCI. Learning about new things is one of the greatest parts of event photography. Sometimes it’s hydrogen as a fuel source, sometimes it’s trade relations, and other times, it’s a long-standing German tradition of eating white asparagus!
Next up were a couple of, well, couples. The first was a short hike up to a viewpoint on Achasan for Bao’s proposal to Kim. We may not have got the perfectly clear day we were hoping for, but the moments more than made up for it! The next day, I headed downtown again for an engagement session with Wei Juan and Andrew for their upcoming wedding. We managed to squeeze in a few different locations, including a little blue-hour fun on Jongno.
My next session was with the Lunbeck family and was the first time I’d seen them since their adoption in 2018. It is always great to see kids growing and becoming themselves after the tentative beginnings I photograph during the custody period. Next was another family I’ve worked with several times over the years, the Orths. We got started with a warning about a potential North Korean missile that turned out to be a scheduled satellite launch, then a family session, and a bike ride out along one of my favourite paths all in one day! Not to mention, we wrapped it up with fried chicken on the Han River. Hard to beat a day like that!
June – Event, eCommerce, Family, and Proposal Photography
My first assignment in June was to cover the visit of South Australia’s Governor, Her Excellency Frances Adamson, AC, to Korea. Part of that day included a visit to Hanyang University and its spectacular lecture halls.
The next day, I decided to take on my largest single day of cycling to date for World Bicycle Relief’s annual Pedal to Empower charity ride. This ride aims to raise money in order to get women and girls around the world access to the life-changing mode of transport so many of us take for granted, a bicycle. It’s a worthy cause and I’ll be participating next year as well. You can follow along here and of course, get updates on my Instagram stories in real time. Next year’s goal will be even bigger than this one, so please join me in raising money for this drive.
Next was two proposals in two days, one on Jeju and one in Seoul. Firstly, Jeff’s proposal was at the edge of the gorgeous Seopjikoji overlooking Seongsan Sunrise Peak. We had a perfect afternoon with clear air and wispy white clouds that really brought the scene to life. After a quick flight back to Seoul, I made my way directly north to Eungpyeong where we had rented a hanok for Kelvin’s proposal. The weather forecast was showing a storm later in the evening, so we pulled the time back as much as we could and set the space up quickly. The moments of gorgeous light that flooded the space for the proposal could not have been better and the clouds could not have covered the sun quicker. Thankfully, the rain held off until we were waiting for our taxi home. It was quite a storm that turned the roads into rivers in seconds so we were glad for the window of opportunity we got for the big moment.
Next, I made a quick train journey down to Busan to work with Roy Cruz on a two-day event with Asia Society Korea. We were blessed with some of the nicest light I’ve ever seen in an event space. When that happens, I take my time working on the details before the guests arrive and enjoy getting nerdy with my compositions. A menu shot has never looked so good!
From there, I headed back to Seoul and then directly down to Suwon. Andrew was planning to propose on the fortress wall down there and we’d decided on sunrise to avoid people and get the beautiful light coming across the scene. As soon as that shoot was done, it was back to Seoul and on an aeroplane down to Jeju again. Augustine and I had planned a beautiful view along the Sagye Coastal Walk, but the forecast had rain and fog yet again! Island weather is always so unpredictable! Augustine was keen to go ahead, though, so we planned to be at opposite ends of a nearby cafe and keep
For good measure, June wrapped up with a couple more family sessions. The first was with my old friends, the Mo family, at Changdeokgung. It was great to finally get out in photograph them in the wild! Our previous sessions had all been indoors. From there, I headed over to Gyeongbokgung for a session with the Apps family. If you can avoid the crowds, there are some beautiful spots in Gyeongbokgung, but you really have to time it right!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this exceptionally busy quarter with me. Please do join me next week for the third instalment of this year’s review. Have a wonderful holiday season, everyone!