2019: A Year in Review

What can I say but 2019 was a great year to end the decade on. It came with it’s fair share of challenges and but overall I am happy the way it all turned out in the end. Here is basically how the year went for me.

Like most of the blogs that you will read at this time of year, I am going to back through the year and talk about what I did and the more memorable photos that I have taken. It is a sort of a weird thing to do when you really are not as accomplished as some photographers out there. However, I want to go my thoughts on the year and the images that I think defined 2019.

In The Beginning…

The year started off with some new projects and clients. Most notably, I started a new instagram account “Korean Lighthouses” where I put all of my shots of the interesting lighthouses that I have found around the coasts of Korea. This was something that had been on my mind for a while.

Korea has some of the most amazing lighthouses around. Each has a theme or a particular design. From giant crabs to baseball gloves and even robots! There are a ton of different lighthouses to photograph.

It was and still is a great project but I sort of burnt myself out nearer to the of the year when I realized that I had to travel 4+ hours in order to get the last remaining lighthouses on this side of the country. However, I will be heading out to more places in 2020 as I plan on making a few more photo trips closer to those areas.

Snow!

One of the more interesting things that happened early in the year was the fact that it actually snowed in this part of Korea. I jumped at the chance to capture some images that showed the snow on some classically Korean buildings and locations.

This search lead me to Gyeongju, a favourite location of mine and one that I went to numerous times throughout 2019. I took a chance and photographed a Holly’s Coffee shop just down the road a ways from Bulguksa. I say “I took a chance” because with the evening light and the snow on the ground I could have blown my chances to get a memorable shot. It paid off in the end or rather a few months later.

Spring Blossoms

During the spring I found myself searching out new and old locations for scenic shots. This is one of my favourite times of the year as it is a beautiful time in Korea and the weather is perfect.

One of the newer locations that I found was near Yangsan, called Wondong Station. This is quite a popular spot with Korean photographers but I had yet to visit. Even though I was a little bit early for the blossoms, it was still wonderful to find such a beautiful location.

I later hit all of my usual locations like Beomosa and Gyeongju. This season went by really fast but I did my best to capture the beauty of spring in Korea. Gyeongju was especially beautiful this year and the Daereungwon Tomb park is not to be missed if you are in the area during that time.

Photowalks

One of the more unexpected gifts this year were the numerous photowalks that were organized throughout the year. Thanks to a number of great members of the local photography clubs, we were able to get out as a group of photographers a number of times throughout the year. Meeting up with people in real life is something that I am still not really used to as I prefer to go out alone. However, it was great to see a lot more interaction among the group members even if I did not always make it out.

This year I organized the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk in Busan at the beautiful Gamcheon Culture Village. It was also perfect timing as I had also been in contact with a production agency working for the BBC. So during the walk, I did a bit of acting and got to meet a great group of people who put together a great commercial to help boost tourism in Korea. Sadly, my footage did not make the final cut but it was a great experience nonetheless.

Client Work

This was a little more sporadic this year but it was a successful year in my books. The shot that I took a chance on of the Holly’s Coffee shop in Gyeongju ended up getting me a new client. They had seen the shot which Holly’s had shared and contacted me about a shoot in Busan. Sadly, the conditions were not that good for the shoot but we did our best to please them. In the end it was a great experience working with that particular client and getting to put my drong through its paces.

This year I also did my best to pay it forward so to speak. If you read my blog then you know the style of work that I do. So a number of jobs that did not suit my skill set were passed on to my fellow photographers. Typically, these were couple shoots that I am really not that into. If you are in the area and are looking for a photographer let me know, I can put you in touch with the right photographer.

Tokyo

Throughout the year tensions were higher than normal between Korea and Japan. That meant that flights from Korea to Japan were dirt cheap. Actually, they were ridiculously cheap. So I decided to head to Tokyo at the worst possible time of the year, when I was supposed to be visiting my Korean In-Laws. So for the most part it was a clandestine trip but a great one at that.

The first high point was purchasing a new camera. My trusty 5D mk iii was nearing the end of it’s lifespan so to speak and needed something more. My wife mentioned that I should pick up a new camera at duty free on my way over to that country that shall not be named in front of my wife’s family. That was all the permission that I needed. The apps were downloaded, payments were given, and my sweet EOS R was in my hands as I flew over to Tokyo to photograph all the places that I had wanted to see since I first went there 10 years ago.

Tokyo was great and I pushed myself hard to get to all of the places that I failed to do the last time. I even had a chance to meet up with one of my favourite people and arguably one of the best travel photographers out there, Andy Faulk. It was great to briefly sit down and chat with such a talented photographer. If you want to see what I aspire to, check out his year end blog here.

Fall

I have to say that fall is one of my favorite times in Korea as a photographer. The colours are really amazing and it forces me to get out and enjoy nature a little bit more.

My favourite place currently is near Cheongdo and Unmunsa Temple. I feel that it is an area that is rather unique to Korea and it almost reminds me of home in some ways.

Of course, no fall season would be complete without a trip to Gyeongju. This year I went out with some great photographers and really captured the fall season in a fun way. It is always great to get out with good people and do something that you all love.

Winter

This year I really struggled with my creativity and the past few months have been hard. I have forced myself to get out but I really was not happy with the shots that I got. To me, there were very few “wow” type shots.

I struggled with the feeling that people do not take me seriously as a photographer and mock what I do and/or write. This eats away at me each and every time that I have gone out recently. While some photographers are enjoying a period of popularity, I feel that I am slowly regressing with my work or simply becoming irrelevant.

I managed to get out a few times and get some ok shots but I am planning on getting out a bit more in 2020 to break away from all of this negative self talk and see if I can make any progress. Armed with a new camera and hopefully a fresh perspective, I can only hope that I can make some progress in 2020


The bottom line here is that I really am excited for 2020. I have a couple of projects in the pipe and am waiting to hear back from a few clients. So, 2020 should start off busy but I am looking at this coming year as a way to push forward and take my photography into new areas.

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