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

Top 10 photographs from 2016

Year 2016 was a year full of photographic accomplishments. Even though I’ve been heavily involved with this hobby for about 6 years, it’s always exciting what new ideas, projects and opportunities come my way. Let’s see what top 10 images I’ve chosen from this year and how they have helped me grow as a photographer and an artist.

In February of 2016, my husband and I were very elated to welcome his dad (my father in law) to Korea. It was his first trip away from North American continent and we were thrilled to show him around snowy Korea. At the end of his trip, the three of us flew to Vietnam’s island of Phu Quoc, where we enjoyed a few days of $4 massages, yummy Vietnamese and Thai food, sunshine and gorgeous sunsets by the sea. The following image is my favorite from that trip and a friend of mine even called it “the quintessential travel photograph from a beach.”

In March of 2016, I’ve decided to take my blog more seriously, launching Around the same time, I started a photography project, titled “The LOVE Project“, where I featured couples, people, hobbies or pets that people are passionate about. My favorite image from these series is of a friend and a fellow Daejeon Arts Collective member, Christopher, he had a pretty swanky outfit that he wanted captured in an artistic way. This image reminds me of a Victorian era inspired movie poster or a book cover.

One of my favorite things about Korea is the amount of various festivals it holds, some being more interesting or successful than others. This year, I was finally able to see one of the most popular festivals down south – Jinhae’s Cherry Blossom Festival, which happened to be in the same weekend as Busan’s Holi Festival. Fortunately, I was able to join on this trip, even if it required traveling by bus on one of the busiest weekends (I think I spent most of my weekend en route, but who cares when you capture some amazing images). The following image is my favorite from that weekend. While I, alongside thousands of other participants, were covered in dust, paint and sand, the excitement and energy were definitely in the air that day.

The image above was also chosen as one of the student images at New York Institute of Photography. 

While Cherry Blossoms were still in bloom (they have about 10-14 day range), I had a couples session with the lovely Brittany and Sunhan. They have seen my work from the previous year’s Cherry blossom session with Aaron and Erica and wanted something similar. Of all the places in the city, my university (Mokwon) has a large number of Cherry trees and it was here that we were able to capture this shot.

A few months ago, while wall climbing, Brittany suffered a tragic accident and is now recovering from a large amount of injuries in a hospital in the U.S. I wish Brittany a speedy recovery and hope that this image brings a smile to her face from her time living and working in South Korea.

To see more images from Brittany and Sunhan’s session, click here. 

While many of the Cherry blossom images are done during the day, I’ve always wanted to have an evening time session with a fancy-looking couple. Despite the fact that I couldn’t locate an interested couple in time, option B is always to beg the husband to do it. He wasn’t very thrilled to get back into his “work clothes” in the evening, but the powers of female persuasion worked!

Another couple, who ended up with one of my favorite shots from this year, are Hani and Taylor. They are both new to Daejeon and to South Korea and wanted to participate in my LOVE Project series. We walked around Daejeon’s Uam Historical Park, where I was able to capture the following image. The zoom effect was done later in Photoshop.

To see more from Hani and Taylor’s session, click here. 

While the following images weren’t taken by me per se, they represent one of the coolest experiences while in Korea (beating paragliding, zip lining and eating alive octopus). My husband and I participated in a festival, which required us to be a part of a Korean traditional wedding ceremony. Even though we both own hanbok (Korean traditional dress), we’ve never been able to look so glamorous and silly while performing traditional rights and having dozens of witnesses watching us sweat. My husband was a trooper and I was not his favorite person for a while after that, lol.


I will not count the above images as a part of the Top 10, no matter how cool, they were not taken by me.

In June of this year, a friend of mine, her daughter and mother decided to have a photo session, capturing three generations at a very photogenic pension, near the city of Cheongju. It was a warm afternoon near the river and one of my favorite images showcases them having a fun time interacting together. I always strive to capture images that are classic, but also playful and unique.

Visiting family in law every summer in the beautiful mountains of Montana always presents a challenge when it comes to a new and unique family photo. This year has got to be my favorite image with warm, sunshine rays backlighting us (during the Golden hour) and an external flash illuminating our money-makers. We’re glowing with glee!

The following photograph, some think is a painting, perhaps due to the post processing used. This image is from Daejeon’s National Cemetery, taken in November of this year. It was also successful enough to have placed Bronze in Daejeon’s Photography Competition. If it wasn’t for the crane flying into my shot and the picturesque fall colors at this pond, I wouldn’t have been able to have this fall-inspired family session in the same week.

The following image may seem a bit odd, standing in a line up with the rest, but I love it for the concept and the execution, which my client was very happy with. A lot of preparation was done on his part – the throne, all the jewelry, the orb and table’s accessories were all designed and created by him. I feel very honored and privileged with work with passionate and creative people like Christopher, who are always pushing me to do my photographic best.

Check out more from my Themed Sessions like the one above.

Picking only 10 images from thousands I’ve taken last year is no easy feat, but it did help me look back and analyze my photographic efforts. Some of the honorable mentions would have to be our short visit with the Karen tribe in Northern Thailand,  Tea fields of Bali, Indonesia, my first line of photographic designs on scarves, and Christmas trip to Taiwan (images coming soon!).

Thank you for visiting, liking and sharing! Alla Ponomareva Photography is giddily looking forward to 2017 to bring you more of travel inspiration and photographic education.

Happy Holidays!


Do you have Top10 images of 2016? Which image from my collection spoke to you the most? What are your photographic goals for 2017?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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  1. I love the little story that goes with each photo. I especially love the photo of the pagoda and the crane that you won that award with! It’s so beautiful and serene. I also love your themed photo sessions with Christopher! Awesome work Alla, can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for you!

  2. Those shots are so great and so much fun!! The swanky outfit on Christopher is awesome. I love all the themed ones and the fun action ones because they just capture so much. Your family photos is also gorgeous. Great take there. ^^

  3. These photos are gooooorgeous. They’re all amazing but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be definitely that one from the Busan Holi Festival (although your Cherry blossoms photos, both morning and night, were just as heartwarming really!)
    Your themed photos are also amazing. Aaahh! Love them all. Keep up the great work! 😀

    • Thanks Jackie, it was tough picking the best 10 out of thousands I took last year. Im glad that you like them 🙂

  4. That Aaron and Erica shoot will go down in infamy I feel like 🙂 Such a beautiful shoot! I love how your couples are still the focal point even with such gorgeous surroundings. And your family photo, holy moly! It’s like you all are dancing in light, what a great shot! Seriously, I love that you could summarize your year in the amazing snapshots you took and I can only see you growing more in your craft. Good luck for 2017!

    • Thanks, I feel like it’s going to be hard to find a more photogenic couple after Aaron and Erica left Korea. If you come back here, shall we try with you and your bf? lol

  5. Great 2016 for you! I love that first portrait. You’re right, it could be a book cover or a poster. It’s so nice to read about your passion for photography and even nicer to see that you have been recognised. Congratulations on your painting and cheers to more magnificent photos from you!

  6. Fantastic photos! I really like the descriptions behind them as well. It’s similar to my most recent blog posts. How fun is this!? So excited to what’s to come for both of us in 2017 🙂

  7. I really love your could shots! Reminds me of trying to figure out my engagement shots. I would have loved to do cherry blossoms but the timing didn’t work out. The traditional house background looks really cool too!

  8. I love your photograhy. It’s so inspiring for me now that I’m trying to learn a bit more myself. I’m a huge fan of the beach pic. It’s making me crave a sunset, a beer and a $4 massage!

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