In March 2014, shortly before my Korean wedding, I took my own Jeju pre-wedding photos. It wasn’t easy hitting the self-timer on my camera and running into every shot hoping to nail a decent pose where one of us wasn’t blinking or smiling unnaturally.
Yet, with a little help and luck, and many hours spent in the digital darkroom, my wife and I were quite happy with the way the final images turned out.
BTW, Jeju Pre-Wedding Photos, not the actual Wedding day photos, are a Big Deal
Maybe you didn’t know this, but there’s a huge market for pre-wedding photo sessions in Jeju because people need to take their professional wedding photos in Western-style dresses and tuxedos before their traditional Korean wedding, where they wear colorful traditional clothes called hanbok. Of course it’s popular on Jeju because, well, it’s a stunningly beautiful island with gorgeous beaches and innumerable photo locations.
These pre-wedding companies are a big deal and very expensive. The price to rent the wedding dresses and tuxedos for a day, and get hair and makeup done, were sky-high, so when I saw the additional fee that you must pay for a photographer, I put my foot down. I managed to convince my wife that I could and would take the shots, and although I knew it would be difficult, I was up for the challenge.
On the day of, I felt quite nervous about doing the photos but I knew I had to have an air of confidence about me or else people would have lost their patience quickly. We ended up getting driven around two assistants who worked for our pre-wedding photo company. They helped with my wife’s hair, makeup, and dresses. They were friendly and helpful for my wife, but they were quite clueless about using a camera, and finding and framing shots.
We visited three locations on the day: first, Halla Arboretum; then, some random bit of coastal road (still don’t know where it was); and finally, Iho beach. We definitely took our best photos at the first two places. Once we got to Iho beach, the sun was setting quickly, we were both exhausted, and I believe the assistants were losing their patience (and perhaps we overran our time with them).
Anyways, that’s half of the story. Check out the shots below, which my wife and I both agreed were decent enough to include in the album, and then read on about the other character in this story.
Now that you’ve seen the keepers, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I did have a little help on the day. I had a lighting assistant.
Who is Andrew?
Andrew is a tall Canadian man from Vancouver. I met Andrew at a pick-up soccer game in Dalian, China (where is that? Click here). I was teaching English at a university and he was studying Chinese at a nearby university. We played soccer together several times, had a few beers after some games, and became friends.
One Friday night I called him up and he told me to come have dinner with him and his friends. It just so happened that one of his good friends was Yeoju, my future wife. We had dinner together, went to a dance club, and she and I hit it off quite well. I spent the next few months courting her.
Eventually, we fell deeply in love and ended up traveling around China, the Philippines, and Jeju together. Soon thereafter, I completely committed to the relationship, and moved to Jeju to be with her. Then, we got engaged and I found myself discovering all about these important Jeju pre-wedding photos (quite a fast-forward, I know).
Cue in Andrew. Because Dalian is only a short 1.5 hour flight to Jeju, he decided to come visit us for a weekend. I craftily told my wife to book our pre-wedding photos to be on the weekend he was coming, knowing that I could convince him to be a make-do lighting assistant.
He came, he reflected, and I bought him a lot of beers to thank him. If you look at any of the photos from that day, you can just imagine Andrew either to the right or left of us, reflecting the sunlight onto our faces using a big silver reflector. It was in fact, the first time I also had ever used a reflector. I did my research though and it seemed important that I should use one to get the best possible light on our faces.
In the end, It was a successful and entertaining outing, and my Jeju pre-wedding photos turned out much, much better than they would have if Andrew did not come and reflect light.
To sum up, thank you Andrew. You truly are The Reflector.