So 2021 is almost over. In some ways, the year flew by, but in other ways it seems like it was crawling – almost like an extension of 2020. Obviously, the pandemic has a lot to do with it. Here we are in year 2 still wearing masks, still anxiously watching the numbers rise, and I’m still unable to travel home to the Philippines to see my family and friends (at least not that easily). However, we seem to be making slow progress and I remain hopeful.
South Korea Travel Photographer
January and February were mainly dedicated to personal work. For me this means travel and landscape photography. Prior to Covid, I would usually be in warmer climates around this time. Since I wouldn’t be able to go home, I made sure to try and add some snowy landscapes to my portfolio. My first trip was out to Jeollanamdo to visit Namwon, Baekyangsa Temple, and Damyang.
Namwon Gwanghallu Pavilion (남원 광한루원)
Damyang Bamboo Forest (담양 죽녹원)
While I was out there, I ran into the venerable Simon Bond. It was nice to hang out and shoot together. He even snapped this fun moment of me almost getting covered in snow. 😀 Thanks, man!
My next snowy escapade was with my friend and esteemed colleague Dylan Goldby. The picturesque town of Danyang, particularly the peaks of Dodam Sambong had always been a topic of conversation. Since our previous attempt of photographing the 3 peaks was kind of a bust, we kept a close watch on the weather and waited for an opportunity to capture the area blanketed in snow. Fortunately, we got our opportunity and the trip was well worth it.
Dodam Sambong Peaks (단양 도담삼봉)
We even took some time to make a bit of content for the YouTubez:
Aside from Dodam Sambong, we also explored the Danyang countryside.
See more winter landscape photos and other travel stories on the blog.
Of course, it wasn’t all fun and games. Dylan and I went over to Changwon to do some commercial work for Volvo Construction Equipment.
As usual, we made sure to tack on an extra day to do some fun shooting. We visited Geoje Island to shoot Oksanseongji (거제 옥산성지) as well as Maemi Castle (매미성).
As a bit of a last hurrah before spring, my family and I went on a trip to Gangwondo, visiting the Samyang Ranch (삼양목장) and the beautiful seaside town of Gangneung, as well as the beautiful eastern coastline heading south.
Family, Corporate, and Wedding Photographer
Springtime rolled around and as the weather got warmer, assignments started to pick up again. First up was the Cross family in the city of Seongnam, just south of Seoul. They have become regular clients of mine and it’s great to see their kids grow up.
Speaking of regular clients, it was a bittersweet session with Jennifer and family at the Jinhae cherry blossom festival. This would be our third and last portrait session together, as they were going back to the US.
Then it was up to Seoul for some corporate photography for software company Ansys, doing some environmental portraiture for an employee spotlight.
In April, I had the pleasure of working with Meike and Sam for their wedding in Gijang, Busan, followed by post-wedding portraits in the historic city of Gyeongju. They really had to endure quite a bit to make a wedding happen during Covid, and it was an honor being on board to document their special day.
A New Medium
Between workdays, I also began my journey into the world of digital medium format. I had recently acquired the Fujifilm GFX 50R (thanks, brother D) and finally got to experience the amazing quality that this beast offers. Suffice to say, it has become my first choice for personal work and it’ll be hard to go back. 😀 I also look forward to incorporating this gear into my editorial / portrait workflow.
Editorial, Event, and Product Photographer
The month of May brought about a range of assignments. First up was a product photography assignment with US-based company Pocket Socks for their catalog.
Then it was back to Seoul to photograph the Dulwich College Year 13 graduation. We did some portraits with the senior students, then documented the event alongside my friend and Dulwich’s Marketing Manager Sam Wigginton, who is also an awesome photographer!
The next assignment brought me to Hyundai Motor Studio in Gangnam to shoot some portraits of Hyundai’s Global Head of Design, Sangyup Lee. This was an assignment for UK-based Car Design News. It was an honor photographing the man behind the latest and most iconic Genesis and Ioniq car designs, of which I was a fan of even before this assignment.
Up next was another product catalog shoot. This time, it was for global footwear and sportswear retailer Foot Locker. We started working with them in late 2020 and we are glad to announce that we have been collaborating regularly. Our shoots have been focused on e-commerce catalog images so far, but hopefully we can do other types of shoots as well after the pandemic. Here’s a behind the scene’s image of our studio setup in Hongdae, near the first Foot Locker store that opened in South Korea, as well as a couple of shots that have been used for the Foot Locker online store.
Immediately after wrapping the product shoot, Dylan and I went over to Dwight School Seoul to cover their graduation ceremonies.
The final month of Q2 had me bouncing around the country as usual. First off was some more Volvo work with Dylan in Changwon, followed by an excellent street shoot in Busan. This was easily one of my favorite photo trips of the year, as we took to the streets of Nampodong and Yeongdo-gu.
Then it was back to Seongnam to photograph the Cross family once more. Their youngest Rosie, who was our main subject for the day, has definitely grown and is much more interactive during the shoot.
Afterwards, Dylan and I joined forces again to photograph the KGCCI 40th Anniversary at the Banyan Tree hotel in Seoul. Events started to pick up again this year, and of course strict distancing precautions are always followed.
Then it was off to Dulwich College once more to photograph the Year 6 Graduation ceremony. Covid regulations limited the audience size, so it was actually multiple ceremonies. 🙂
And just like that, half of the year was over.
On a personal note, my mood has actually changed for the better since I started writing this blog post. Looking at the past year in photos and breaking down the events one by one has made me appreciate the year more. This is part of the reason I like doing these year in review posts. I am reminded of how lucky I am to be doing what I do, and I feel grateful.
Thanks for joining me on the first half of my 2021 photographic journey! Check out part 2 here.
Additional photos by Dylan Goldby