Picking up from where we left off in part 1, we move on to the second half of my year in photography. The months of July to December brought about a wide range of assignments and projects which took me all over South Korea.
South Korea Editorial and Commercial Photographer
The first assignment for Q3 was for the University of Michigan, shooting environmental portraits of Taubman College alumnus Leekyung Han. She is an author and real estate developer working with the Marriot Group in Seoul and all over the world. We chose one of her recent projects, the Josun Palace Hotel in Gangnam as our location.
Up next was a shoot with Kia Motors Director of Exterior Design Teckkoun Kim. In this year’s second assignment for Car Design News, I was tasked with making portraits of Mr. Kim alongside his baby, the Kia EV6. This milestone project is company’s first dedicated electric vehicle, and it was a pleasure working with the man behind its very cool design.
The next project was a multi-day commercial shoot for Skyline Luge in Tongyeong. We focused on some of the park’s refreshed facilities as well as track photos with a group of models. However, the highlight of the project for me was definitely the night luge shots. Daytime luge is fun, but there’s also something to be said about speeding down the track with colorful lights and a fantastic nighttime view of the city.
Product Photographer in South Korea
The next few weeks brought some more product shoots with our favorite client Foot Locker in Hongdae, as well as a very interesting shoot in my home studio involving almost 30 different types of beer. The shoot was pretty straightforward (cans on a clean white background), but I especially enjoyed getting to know the different beers after the shoot. 😉
I also had the honor of receiving the grand prize in a photo contest that was held in Gwangdo-myeon, Tongyeong. Every summer, hydrangea flowers bloom along the Gwangdo-cheon stream and they hold several events around it, including a photo contest. I figured I’d give it a shot (pun intended) and photographed the pristine stream reflecting the surrounding landscape. It was a great opportunity to highlight a less touristy part of Tongyeong as well as represent the foreign community.
Seoul Corporate Headshot and Environmental Portrait Photographer
The next couple of assignments involved portraits of the more corporate nature. First up were some profile shots of Jens to update his LinkedIn as well as for use on his new company’s online channels. I brought a portable studio setup and we shot the photos in the comfort of his living room. We also went to a nearby park and surrounding area for some outdoor portraits. We got a nice variety of shots in a pretty short timeframe.
Then it was off to the Seoul office of William Grant and Sons, who produces and distributes some of the world’s best-known whisky and spirits. There, I photographed some of their team members for the brand’s annual magazine.
Seoul Event and Photographer
Up next, I was off to the JW Marriot in Dongdaemun to cover the annual KGCCI Innovation Awards. Dylan Goldby and I have been shooting this event for the past few years and it was good to be able to continue doing so despite the pandemic. Their team really knows how to put together a successful event while maintaining safety and compliance during these times.
The following day, I went to photograph the COMICS X MOVIE exhibition at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. The exhibit was organized by the Hong Kong Arts Centre (Comix Home Base) and showcased 10 Hong Kong comics artists on the first and second floor of the DDP’s Design Pathway. There was some very cool artwork and films on display and it was very interesting to see the history behind it as well.
South Korea Travel and Landscape Photographer
By this time, autumn was in full swing. In between assignments, I made it a point to try and shoot some colorful foliage. I visited several spots around the country:
Hwaeomsa Temple, Gurye (구레 화엄사) and Gwanghallu, Namwon (남원 광한루)
Gyeongbokgung (경복궁) and Samcheongdong (삼청동), Seoul
Samseonggung (삼성궁) and Jirisan Valley, Hadong
And of course, some shots around Tongyeong:
Miraesa Temple (미래사), Chungryeolsa Temple, (충렬사) and Seopirang (서피랑)
Busan and Seoul Portrait Photographer
December rolled around and I fully expected things to start slowing down as the weather got colder. Surprisingly, I actually got a couple of outdoor portrait shoots during this time. Both shoots ended up having really nice weather and I had a great time working with some wonderful people.
First up was Monica and family in Busan. She had come from the US to visit her 90-year old grandma for the first time since the pandemic and she wanted to photograph this special occasion. We went over to Chungryeolsa (interestingly enough, same name as the Tongyeong temple I showed in the previous section), which still had some nice fall foliage left. It was really heartwarming to photograph Monica, grandma, and her aunt as they shared moments together.
Then it was off to Seoul to work with Brooke Goodman, aka. Bora in Seoul. She’s a voice actor, model, and all-around talent who needed some headshots and creative portraits for her portfolio. We chose Seoul Forest for the wide variety of backgrounds that it offers. She definitely brought her A-game and we had a blast shooting against nature and urban backdrops.
And with that, 2021’s shoots pretty much came to a close. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows though. I still felt the effects of the global health situation with several cancellations of events and portrait shoots throughout the year. Things are still quite unpredictable and the landscape can change so quickly. However, I still got to work on some really interesting projects and with some really interesting people, so I’m very grateful.
As I write this, there’s only one week left in 2021. I plan to go into the next year with an open mind and a grateful heart. In these times, “hope for the best, prepare for the worst”, seems to still be very much in play, but I remain optimistic.
Thank you for joining me on this 2021 retrospective. I wish you all the best in the year to come!
Speaking of retrospectives, you may also check out My Top 10 Photos of 2021.
Additional photos by Dylan Goldby and Jeehe Choi