Sunday, December 13, 2020

Our Hanbok Glamour Photoshoot

We shared a special, once-in-a-lifetime experience this weekend: we did a hanbok photoshoot at a palace in Seoul! This was definitely high on my Seoul bucket list. I'd scoped out our photographer's Instagram in advance and booked as soon as I saw he was available on Airbnb Experiences. His name is Chan and he was awesome! He has great English and knows just how to take a stunning photo, as you'll see throughout this post!

Hanbok is traditional Korean dress. It comes in all sorts of varieties: royal to everyday, traditional to modern, and every color combo you can imagine. I haven't worn hanbok since I was one year old for a special Korean ceremony we have called dol! M and I decided to go all out and picked royal-inspired robes. We thought the burgundy color suited the weather - it is winter, after all.

Speaking of which, it's starting to get really cold in South Korea. I'm shocked at how quickly I adjusted. Just the other day, I caught myself saying, "It's not that bad - only 20s!" (Fahrenheit, of course.) Thankfully, we lucked out for our photo session. It wasn't too cold, the sun was shining, and the air quality cleared up just in time. We realized even more how serendipitous it was the next morning when we woke up to the first snow of the year.

So anyway, we met up at a hanbok rental shop with hundreds of outfits for men and women. I thought we'd have to get undressed, but to my surprise and delight the hanbok could just go on over our clothes. They're not particularly form fitting, so you can't tell there's a whole 'nother outfit on underneath. If you go, though, I would recommend wearing long sleeves you can roll up and nothing with a prominent collar. Also, make sure you wear good shoes - even in the long dresses you can see them in a number of photos. For our winter booking, I was very happy to have a sweater and sweater leggings underneath my outfit. It made for a much more comfortable and enjoyable few hours outside.

Donned in hanbok, we took a short walk to Gyeongbokgung, a palace nearby. Admission is free if you're wearing a hanbok, so we saw a few others visiting in hanbok and taking photos. There were a mix of locals and visitors, but the whole palace grounds were nearly empty. Chan explained that usually the place is packed on weekends, but the combination of the cold and the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in South Korea meant more people were staying inside. One of the reasons I booked this experience, actually, is because it's one of the few low-risk things we can still do. We socially distanced outside and only took off our masks for photos. We put them back on when walking from site to site in the palace. It was a safe and memorable time.

There were so few people that we didn't have to wait at all to get a clear shot with no people in the background. So the whole thing only took a couple of hours and we were on our way. One thing I'll recommend to people who want to book this experience is to bring cash for the hanbok rental. They normally take card, but their business has been hit pretty hard by the pandemic and at least our shop requested cash to avoid the credit card fee.

The next day, Chan sent us a link to download over 170 high-quality photos from our session! We got to pick our 20 favorites for a little extra editing, and he turned those around in record time. I was amazed at his top-notch service. Everything from the quality of the photos, his helpful direction as to what poses to do to look good, to our great conversation throughout made the experience stellar. I would recommend it to anyone living or traveling to Korea in a heartbeat. Definitely check out the package for yourself here, and stay safe!

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