First of all, I would like to wish everyone a happy new year!  I wish you all the best in 2016!

It’s the new year again and it’s time to do a review of the past 12 months of my photographic life.  I believe this is a good practice for photographers and other creative types so that we may look at our progress and have a starting point for the year to come.

Commissioned Work and Developments

2015 was a good year for commissioned work.  I did a wide range of projects for private, editorial, and commercial clients.  In a word, my commissioned work for 2015 was eclectic.

The first part of the year was spent shooting mostly events for Korean clients in Tongyeong.  I even got to experience my first 칠순잔치, a big Korean 70th birthday bash.  Click on the headers or images to see more photos.

Korea Family and Event Photographer (잔치/가족/기념/촬영)


I always enjoy a bit of food photography.  In the spring I had the opportunity to photograph menu items and interiors for a local restaurant, Tongdduck, which was a lot of fun and quite delicious.

Korea Food Photographer 통영거제음식인테리어촬영-1

2015 was special because I took on more portrait clients.  I’ve always been able to do portraits, but this is the year I truly embraced them as part of my photographic arsenal and began to enjoy portrait sessions a lot more.  As photographers, our tastes are continuously changing and I’m happy I can be of better service in the portrait photography realm.

Mollie and Brian’s Pre-Wedding in Tongyeong

Tongyeong Korea Pre Wedding Photographer-8

Editorial Portraits for Volvo Group Magazine

Korea Editorial Photographer Volvo Magazine-1

Artist Portraits for singer Jaebaek’s Digital Single

재백 One Day Digital Single

Another notable development in 2015 was my expansion into other cities outside of Tongyeong and Geoje. I’ve done work in other places before, but this year, I really opened up to serving a wider area and accepted more jobs involving a bit of travel. It also helps that my daughter is a bit older now and my wife is increasingly understanding of what I do.

Cho Family Portraits in Busan

Busan Family Portrait Photographer-2

Joanna and Wyatt’s Maternity Session in Gyeongju

Gyeongju Korea Maternity Photographer-6

Alice and Liow’s Pre-wedding Session in Busan

Busan Korea Engagement Pre-Wedding Photographer-15
One of the last jobs of the year was photographing the very grand Filipino Community of Geoje (FCG) Christmas Ball at the Samsung Hotel.  It’s a bit of shame that this job was my first time in my 7 years in Korea to interact with the Filipino community here.  But I’m glad it finally happened and hope it won’t be the last time!

FCG Christmas Ball at the Geoje Samsung Hotel

Korea Event Photographer Geoje Samsung Hotel -25


Partnerships, Exhibits, and Awards

2015 marked the beginning of my partnership with a local tour and travel company 73Step Travel Lab.  They saw my photos of Tongyeong and contacted me to collaborate on creating wood prints, post cards, and other souvenir items for their customers.  If you are ever in Tongyeong, stop by 73Step in the heart of the downtown area for some beverages, rent a scooter or bike, and check out their souvenir items.


In 2015, my work was part of several exhibits in Korea and the Philippines.  First up was the annual Seoul Photo and Imaging Show in Seoul COEX.  This year, the exhibit was bigger, with more photographers from all over the country.  It’s always an honor to be part of this event. (Logo courtesy of Seoul P & I)

Next up was an exhibit for Fujifilm Philippines.  One of my photos was chosen to be exhibited in the Graphic Expo 2015 at SMX Manila as part of the Filipino Fuji X-photographer community.  I couldn’t go to this exhibit but it was great to be a part of it!  (Poster imagfe by Stax Eustacio / XPPH)



Another noteable event was the K-Blogger photo contest award in Seoul.  My photo won a grand prize, alongside the awesome Dylan Goldby (represented by the equally awesome Marco Devon) and Oisin Feeney.  It was a long trip up to Seoul, but a fun chance to get together with some fellow expat photographers. (Photos by Brian Jumi Harris and Joshua Herrin)

The last major event of the year was the First Geoje Photo Festival. Geoje photographers Andreas Liverani and Debbie Collins spearheaded this special event where photographers from all over the country came together at the Geoje International Center in Okpo to put together a 150-image exhibition, as well as photography workshops. (Yes, that’s my Jinnie on the poster. :))

poster sample 2 copy


Geoje Photo Book

In the fall, my friend, assistant, second shooter, and happy hour buddy Joshua Herrin decided to put together a little project.  We pooled our best images of Geoje Island and made a coffee table book.  The response from the Geoje expat community was great, and we have sold quite a few (still available by the way)!  We are happy that the images and the book resonated with the community and can serve as a reminder of their time on the island.


It has definitely been a productive and fun year for my photography.  If I were to sum up the things I’ve learned/reaffirmed in 2015, they would be:

  1.  Allow yourself to grow, explore and embrace other types of photography.  Photography is like a living, breathing entity inside you.  Let it grow and evolve.
  2. Keep at it and push hard, but don’t let it consume your life.  You are a photographer, but also a parent, a spouse, a child, a friend, a colleague, etc.  Know when to put down the camera and just relax with your loved ones.
  3. Writing photography contracts is also an evolutionary process.  Take note of mistakes and experiences and add to/change your contract as necessary.
  4. Surround yourself with like-minded people and keep in touch with other photographers/creatives.  A support system and a network of creative friends, even if it’s mostly online, will be helpful.
  5. Keep putting your work out there, both digitally and in print.  You never know who will take notice.
  6. Be true to yourself.

That being said, I’ll end part 1 of my Year in Review with some thanks and shoutouts…

Thank you to all my clients and partners who entrusted me with their projects.

Thank you to my wife and daughter for understanding why daddy is gone sometimes.

Thank you to my buddy Joshua Herrin for the assistance, second shooting, conversation, and showing me the best places to eat and drink in Okpo.

Thanks to my friends from all over for the support, Facebook chats, and occasional meetups.  John Steele, Greg Samborski, Dylan Goldby, Pete de Marco, Robert Koehler, Jason Teale, PIK Magazine, Chris Cusick, RM Adamson, and everyone I’ve met on this journey.  You know who you are.  Let’s take 2016 by storm!

And last but not least, thanks to YOU for reading this far and thanks everyone who has followed my work on my website and all the social networks.

It’s not over yet, folks.  Part 2 of my Year in Review is coming very soon with my Top 10 Photos of 2015.  Stay tuned!

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Roy Cruz

Roy Cruz

Photographer at Roy Cruz Photo
Roy Cruz is a freelance photographer based in Tongyeong, South Korea specializing in travel and documentary photography. He started shooting professionally in 2007 and has worked all over the Philippines and South Korea. He is also a dedicated husband, bass player, and father.