A Styled Session on Jeju Island, Korea

A girl walking through a tree tunnel

I thought this would be an interesting post for an aspiring photographer. Often time clients look at our portfolio to hire us as their photographer, but when you are newly starting out, there’s no way for you to show your work because you don’t really have any.

There are two ways to solve that particular obstacle.
1. Offer free sessions
2. Create a styled session

Free Sessions are good to build experience and learn about customer service. Although the characteristics of the relationship will be slightly different to a paid job, you still get to learn how to listen to the clients desires and try to deliver them through the final products.

Styled Sessions are a much quicker way to build your brand. Quite often in order for you to know what you want and to organize a styled session, you would either need to work for another photographer 2nd shooting or offer a few free sessions. That being said, I have not done any styled sessions. I have been very fortunate to meet clients who are willing to listen to my expertise, even when I didn’t have that expert voice.

A girl standing in front of a lone tree

This session was a great opportunity for me to try something new. Even though I don’t often do sessions for other than couples and families, I did a session for my friend while I was on Jeju island, Korea during the pandemic. When we first chatted before deciding to do this session or not, it seemed that we had slightly different approaches. She wanted something that was more of a portrait style. I explained that by including lots of background we can tell more of a story, as we were doing this session in Jeju island where she was visiting on a holiday. She listened and said she wanted to try my way as the portrait photos can be done anywhere; in a studio or anywhere in Seoul. We agreed on the amount and I asked her to prepare three outfits. I wanted to create something beautiful for her, something she could really love. As I was brainstorming I asked lots of questions to understand what she wanted so that I could incorporate her ideas into my work.

I honestly didn’t know how to pose a single lady. Often when I pose a couple it is much easier as they can use each other. Just like any other photography couple sessions I created a mood board on Pinterest that included the location looks, feels, as well as some of the natural looking poses that I liked. She included a lot of her ideas too. Then I drew up a plan, which included the following:
- locations and possible sun lights at the time of the visit
- outfit at each location
- camera lenses and type of pose I wanted to shoot with every lens

Model: Jooyon Kim
1st location: Hydrangea farm

We decided on this location because it was the perfect time of the year for hydrangeas, and I thought she could wear something that is a similar tone (and she chose perfectly). I managed to photograph some shots showing where she is and her interacting with the flowers. The farmer gave us a small hydrangea as a present on the way in, which also helped because we didn't want to disturb the farmer’s hard work. I also tried to photograph a few little closer up shots of her while still showing the surroundings, which she liked.

A girl holding a hydrangea
A girl looking at camera while strolling in hydrangea farm
A girl with hydrangea
A girl looking at hydrangea
2nd location: A lone tree

This location always caught my eye when I was on my way to where we were staying in Jeju Island, and I always wanted to do a photo shoot here. I wasn’t trying to signify any meaning behind a lone tree and a single person, I just liked the vibe of this field especially on the cloudy gloomy day. The reason I chose this place as the 2nd location was because I wanted her to keep the same dress on, creating more of a contrasted feel. I also thought the colour of her dress matched the cloud day vibe too. As it was a windy day on an open field, I tried to get more movement into the shots such as asking her to turn around more excitedly while walking away from the camera. This ended up being a good thing to do as it relaxed her more. She told me she was fairly nervous before but after taking these movement shots and seeing the back of my camera, she ended up liking them which made her more relaxed.

A girl on a windy day in an open field with a lone tree in the background
A girl with a lone tree
A girl with a lone tree on a windy day
A girl playing with a lone tree in the background
3rd location: A milk farm (hence the milk cartridge looking bench)

We spent the most amount of time here as there were quite a few elements that we could photograph. The very first scene wasn’t really planned. This bench was right next to the parking lot and she ran over there and I photographed the first one in very boring manner, but I wanted to include the horses in the background too so I moved around to have them in the frame and asked her to look away. I couldn’t have her wear the navy dress here as well because I was planning a shoot in tree tunnels and thought that she wasn’t going to pop as much. I asked her to wear something bright and this also worked out very well.

A girl posing for a photo with horses in the background
A girl posing for a photo with horses in the background
A girl posing for a photo with horses in the background
A girl posing for a photo with horses in the background
A girl trying to climb the fence and fail then laugh in embarassement
A girl decides to stand in front of the fence
A girl decides to stand in front of the fence while smiling
A girl walking through a tree tunnel
A girl walking through a tree tunnel
A girl walking through a tree tunnel
A girl sitting in a hut
A girl sitting in a hut
A girl sitting in a hut
A girl sitting in a hut
4th location: Beach

For the final location, I was honestly expecting a beautiful sunset, but it was still gloomy. I thought I could use the rock formation this beach is famous for to create a very Jeju style photo. We didn’t have much time for this session and it started getting dark fairly quick, so I got my Rotolight Neo out and added a bit of warmth to her to create contrast.

A girl on jeju island
A girl on jeju island
A girl walking on a beach

Hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you have any questions regarding getting the first session and planning a session, please let me know through Instagram DM, I would love to answer some of them for you.

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