Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring – Photography Spots in Korea: Series I
The following is the first in our series of Photography Spots in Korea. In this series, our guest writer Ranjitha Jeurkar shares her top photography destinations in South Korea for the 4 seasons -
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring
Colourful autumns, snowy winters, flowering cherry trees in the spring and outdoor activities in the simmer – Seoul, Korea, is a photographer’s paradise.
The beauty of Seoul is not something that can be described in a sentence or two. It lies in the striking architecture, the well-planned streets, the little winding alleys with their stone buildings and flowering creepers, the beautiful parks and public spaces…there is no dearth of lovely views, or subjects to photograph. Here are some of my favourite photography spots in the city:
ALL YEAR ROUND
The Gyeongbokgung Palace is located in the heart of the city, near the Jongno business district. The combination of traditional Korean architecture, the colours, the open spaces and natural beauty make it a photographer’s delight. One of the most picturesque parts of this palace is the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, which is located at the middle of a pond. The one image of the palace I’ll always carry in my mind is that of the pavilion reflected in the waters below it.
Tip: The Gyeongbok Palace closes at half past six in the evening. On some days of the year (typically at the beginning of the fall), the palace is open to visitors until late in the evening. The palace, which looks beautiful in the daylight, is stunning when viewed under moonlight, all lit up.
Think busy bustling streets, roadside vendors, street food, curio stalls art galleries and souvenirs galore – that’s Insadong for you. Insadong has something for every kind of photographer. If you enjoy storing away memories for another day, you won’t know where to look; if you revel in details, there are more than enough to hold your attention, and if you like street photography, there is a wealth of subjects to shoot here. My personal favourites were the different types of curios that competed with each other for attention.
Tip: While many vendors don’t mind your photographing their wares (it’s a big tourist attraction, after all), it would be a good idea to take permission before you shoot inside any shop. Some galleries and stores do not permit photography, and asking for permission can help you avoid sticky situations.
IN THE FALL
EHWA WOMEN’S UNIVERSITY
The Ehwa Women’s University Building is by itself beautiful, but the fall colours accentuate the campus’ old world charm. You can see the different shades of the fall colours all at one place. Focus on the bigger picture to get a feel of the fall,
Or zoom in and pay attention to detail. Once you begin shooting, no memory card will suffice!
The Lantern festival is held at the River Chonggyechon, as the fall ends and winter begins. Whether you are an amateur photographer or a pro, the pictures you take of these lanterns are guaranteed to be stunning.
Tip: It’s going to be cold, crowded and dark. Make sure you are warmly dressed and properly equipped. You may need a tripod to make sure that your pictures are properly-exposed.
The Fireworks festival is held on the banks of the Han River when fall begins, and temperatures begin to drop. Think of it as Diwali on a much larger scale – a greater number of fireworks, and lesser noise and pollution.
TIP: Try to get there way ahead of time. (No, one hour early is not early enough). When you reach the venue, you will see that half the population of Seoul has poured out of the subway with you. If you are interested in getting good photographs, it’s very important to get there a few hours in advance, and reserve the space for your equipment. If not, you’ll have to jostle cuddling couples and ajummas for every click.
IN THE SPRING/SUMMER
Yeouido, Han River: Cherry Blossom Festival
In the spring, the cherry trees along the Han River create a canopy of cherry blossoms over the street, giving Indian visitors a ‘different’ experience. The people of Seoul take this thaw in temperatures as an opportunity to spend weekends outdoors with their families. It’s not uncommon to see families with their tents pitched on the banks of the river, cycling, playing frisbee or baseball.
Other Notable mentions:
*The Secret Garden, Changdeokgong Palace (visit it in the Fall)
*Gwanghwamun Square (especially lovely in the evenings)
About the Writer
Sriranjitha Jeurkar is a freelance journalist/writer based in Bangalore. After graduating from the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, she worked in the Times Now Bangalore bureau, and at Deccan Herald. She considers her ‘extended vacation’ in Seoul a year well spent. When she’s not working, you can find her working on her photography skills, listening to music, or reading a book. The sights of Seoul gave her ample opportunity to hone her photography skills, she says. You can get in touch with her at ranjithaDOTjeurkarATgmailDOTcom.