Photography & travel tips from an award-winning photographer, educator & wanderlust

Fall Family Frame-worthy Fun

Last Sunday, I got to venture out to Daejeon’s National Cemetery for a ridiculously fun family session with the Min family. You’re probably thinking: “Who in their right mind would take a family to a cemetery?” Well, when your city has an impressively large plot of land devoted to trees, beautiful landscapes, a pond, mountains, grass and oh yea, a cemetery – a photography session is due! Additionally, Koreans use this location as a popular picnic destination as witnessed by kindergartners running around during the week and loving couples trying to keep their hands off each other, while nuzzling in the grass on the weekend. The tombs, devoted to fallen soldiers, are perfectly placed in rows and columns and look kinda picturesque with flowers, decorating each and every one. So needless to say its not a morbid, “hell-to-the-no-type-of-place”, Daejeon’s National Cemetery is probably the most overlooked attraction of the city. It’s peaceful, calming, serene and very, very suitable for a wonderful family photo session. Take a look for yourself!

To loosen up nerves or jitters, I typically start off my family sessions with everyone walking hand in hand. Sometimes the kids break off and start running around, releasing some energy or built up excitement. I tell them to race, reach a certain spot and then race back to me. Smiling is not mandatory, but that’s the difference between childhood and adulthood = running USED to be fun.

 

After the kiddos were nice and sweaty, we arranged everyone in a nice family formation, according triangle rules. Triangle rule in portrait photography indicates that the heads of the people should be higher and lower than others, so that if you connected them with strings – would create triangular shapes. Easy enough? Try dealing with an energetic 5 year old…

During the session, I always plan on photographing parents separately with the kids, to create some options as well as more memories down the line. This also gives a chance for others to take a small break.

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Don’t forget about the chemistry between the siblings as they play around.

We took a short snack break in the pagoda near the pond, which helped lead the session to this location for these pre-planned shots. I visited this spot last week and knew all along that it’d be perfect for a wonderful autumn vista shot. I hope they blow it up large and hang it in Times Square.

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If I could do something different about this shot, I would have popped a portable flash behind them, so as to make them standout a bit more from the landscape.

As we were nearing our session, the kids were getting a bit antsy and I could sense my time limit ticking loudly. As we stepped to the nearby location, I snapped some shots of the parents alone. Parents always feel so awkward together once you take the kids out of the equation. It’s like they suddenly forget that there used to be a time when it was just the two of them against the world. A few posing tips later, they were ready to go.

Lastly, posing the kiddos together, we had an unforeseen meltdown. Strangely, I found the little guy so cute as he was crying his eyes out and sniffling loudly. I couldn’t help myself and kept on snapping. Later, the brother and sister quite rapidly made up and went on smiling, helping create the following collage. Just how cute are these two!

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Thank you to the Min family for their time and smiles. I’m really thrilled to have spent this time on this beautiful days with you!


Are you or someone you know might be interested in ridiculously smiley pictures of you or your family. Let me be your go to gal, contact to book your session!

Have you been to this awesome location? What are your thoughts? is it underrated?

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20 comments

  1. Cemetery sounds creepy! But your photos not at all… my favourite is the crying boy’s picture, hahahaha… so cute! How did they go back to their easy-to-manage selves, I wonder? But then again, that’s how siblings are. They laugh, play, get angry, fight and laugh again. Congratulations for having this project and for having a family trust you with their family portraits. Go, go for more and I am looking forward to reading about your shoots.

    • Little kids and their unexpected feelings right?! I thought the session was over at that point (luckily it was towards the end), but then he turned his frown upside down and we even got his sister kissing him on a cheek. Never stop shooting!

  2. Such great portraiture work!! I love seeing your use of light and posing techniques ^^ It’s super-cool that you shot this session in a cemetery – there’s an old gothic cemetery where I used to live in the US, that I thought of shooting photos at constantly. I’m not the only one, as it is a popular place for portrait and wedding photography. Great job on this shoot – I love the use of color and black and white! Kudos!

    • Thanks Lindsay! I think great portraits can be made in the most unexpected places, such as cemeteries and what not. Luckily in Korea they are well maintained and are more like grandiose parks than anything else.

  3. The Min family looks so relaxed in the photographs. They didn’t seem too conscious of the camera and the poses look natural. I usually don’t feel comfortable with a camera in front of me. The venue helps in making the subject feel at ease, right? Back in high school, friends and I used to visit a nearby cemetery after our classes to do projects ~ it was literally a “resting place” for us.

    • Ana, this family has known me for about a year now and the longer I’ve been with them, the more I knew that they’d be a perfect subject in my photographs. I’m so happy to have been right.

  4. Omg Alla what an adorable Korean family!!! My favorite photo is of the boy while he is crying. There is something so amazing about capturing the ease in which children express their feelings and emotions, without any qualms about it.

    • Yea, I felt a little strange photographing his tears, but those are the treasured images that families typically go back to in their memory banks. And parents probably miss those special moments when they are older.

  5. Cemeteries can be such beautiful and peaceful places. Or maybe not so peaceful if kids are running around! Your photos are all amazing! We really love Korea in autumn too, it’s our favorite time of year here.

  6. What a beautiful post! I wish I had met you while we were in Seoul. I would have loved to book you! And to think I’m looking for family photos as well!
    I’m very glad to read that you took your photos at a cemetery. In my culture, we visit cemeteries and have picnics there as well so that we can celebrate an event with our departed loved ones. It’s not just a place of fear, but of love as well! 🙂
    Also, it’s so true what you wrote of how parents can feel so awkward when it’s not a family photo sometimes! I don’t want to lose that connection with my hubby. I constantly remind him that once the kids are all grown up, it’ll just be the two of us. So he better start talking more to me now hahaha 😀

  7. I love the shot with the tears. There’s always tears at some point, isn’t there? I’ve always found it strange that families go to cemeteries to hang out here but.. quiet, nature.. I guess it makes sense. You take great photos. I’d love you to do our family sometime. ^^

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