• Seoul photographer Greg Samborski shoots it all -- commercial, event, engagement, wedding, portrait... Give him a mission, he will deliver.

Ready to go

Day two taught me a lesson in communication and setting expectations. It’s amazing how different the day you envision can play out from reality. You see, Slava got a last minute booking to go out and shoot some “waterfalls” for a kind of adventure/photo tourism startup and invited me to come along – which was awesome. The previous night he took me to a shopping centre where I pickedup some groceries, a lot of groceries, for the trip. This left at least 8 hours for me to day dream about how our adventure might play out.

Here’s what I knew: a small crew of people would be driving out to a waterfall. Slava would take pictures and the rest of the crew would document the adventure.

Here’s what I imagined:
-An hour or so drive into the wilderness
-A wide open space in the mountains with a 30+ meter waterfall cascading into a large open pond. The sound would be magnificent. We would setup base camp there.
-At 12:00 we would all break for lunch and sit in a circle around a camp fire in view of the waterfall, share our lunch and possibly drink until we had a good buzz going

Here’s what actually happened:
Five of us piled into an SUV at 10:30 in the morning and drove for two hours on and off road into a narrow mountain valley. From there we trekked 7km up the valley only stopping to take photos of the “waterfalls”. (To be deserving of the title waterfall I believe there are two prerequisites that must coexist in abundance, water and falling. I would say the three sites I visited met the first perquisite, water. The falling was lacking in that even at the largest “waterfall” there was only 2-3 meters of fall and that’s generous given it was more like water rolling down a ramp or taking than steps than straight-up falling.)  There were no fireside picnics, there was no sharing of bread, it was more like eat your granola bar on the way. When we reached the last waterfall we turned around. Unfortunately I had packed according to my fantasy plan so I ended hauling a tripod, a full bag of lenses, a bunch of food including a loaf of bread and the Hefty 70-200 around my neck for the 14 kilometre six hour round trip.

Now I know the last two paragraphs could make me sound like an unappreciative, whiney little bitch, especially to a Russian, so please let me clarify. I whole heartedly loved every minute of my adventure with Slava and co. It was such an awesome experience to find myself in the company of 4 locals tagging along on a photography assignment in an area I couldn’t even dream of finding or getting to on my own not even 24 hours after I’d touched down in totally foreign land. I took note of how strong the Russian men and women were around me, how no one complained about the distance, intensity of the hike, or rain, something I KNOW I would have heard a lot of people moaning about back in Korea. The fragrant smell off the moist forest brought me back to my childhood spent on the west coast in Bella Coola, Nanaimo, Vancouver and Victoria. The fall colours and foliage were gorgeous, and while the water was not officially “falling” according to my definition, I had not a single regret about taking the trip. The reason I bring any of it up is to highlight how important it is to seek out detailed information, for packing purposes, and not set expectations because Happiness = Reality – Expectations.

It was a quite ride home after a day filled with exercise and fresh air. We weaved our way back through the never ending gridlock that plagues Vladivostok at around 8pm. From there I put on my warmest clothes and headed out for my first proper meal. Until now I had only eaten street donair and snacks from the grocery store. I found the most delicious Georgian Restaurant. The beer, bread and soup blew my mind. Perhaps the long day made it taste especially good. I’ve grown quite fond of photographing menus so you can have look at what was available and the prices below! Come back tomorrow for Day 3, a day dedicated to coffee, wandering the city, buying warmer clothes and my first Russian club experience!

Ready to go

Cafema

Cafema

Bus

Bus

Coffee in Bus

Coffee in Bus

Pot Plant Graffiti

Pot Plant Graffiti

Country Road

Country Road

Wild Cow

Wild Cow

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Out House

Out House

Amongst Trees Again

Amongst Trees Again

Lone Building

Lone Building

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Canon 16-35 Broken At Mount

Canon 16-35 Broken At Mount

Forest Path

Forest Path

Big Tree

Big Tree

Hole in Tree

Hole in Tree

Red Maple Tree Forest

Red Maple Tree Forest

Guy Squating in Forrest

Guy Squating in Forrest

Small Stream

Small Stream

Photographer at Work

Photographer at Work

Rearranging Nature

Rearranging Nature

Small Waterfall Russia

Small Waterfall Russia

Waterfall and Pool Near Vladivostok

Waterfall and Pool Near Vladivostok

Greg Sitting on Old Tree

Greg Sitting on Old Tree

Big Rock

Big Rock

Third Waterfall

Third Waterfall

Third Waterfall

Third Waterfall

Group Photo

Group Photo

Valley HikeValley Hike

My Warmest Clothes

My Warmest Clothes

Georgian Restaurant Menu

Georgian Restaurant Menu

Georgian Restaurant Food

Georgian Restaurant Food

Georgian Restaurant Food

Georgian Restaurant Food

Craft Beer

Craft Beer

 

It’s the last thing I should be doing right now, but I gotta do it. I gotta blog about this trip to Vladivostok. I gotta blog it everyday without fail. If I don’t the memories will fade away and blur as they have for so many other trips like Mongolia. So let’s do it,

Vladivostok. What a trip. It began with a massive detour around North Korean air space. I’m still left wondering why we hooked left when the right hooked looked much shorter. Do commercial airliners opt to stay over land when possible? Perhaps the western side of North Korea is considered safer than the eastern? If you know please enlighten me in the comments.

I had very little idea what to expect in Vladivostok. The trip came together spur of the moment. My lovely wife had her eye on a handbag she wanted that was much cheaper at duty free and I was in need of my usual bimonthly exodus from Seoul. I got to go on an adventure, she got the bag, win win!

It was a bright, sunny fall day when I emerged from Vladivostok airport. Rather than wait two hours for the next train into town I decided to go with the bus. I walked right past the short bus the first time, being no larger than a minivan I thought it was specifically for the disabled.

For an hour and a half we plodded along the congested highway into the city. Parts of the drive reminded me of Canada. The way everything was spread out across the vast land. The groves of trees. It was 10 degrees cooler here than in Korea and the fall colours were further ahead. When not peering out the window I was messaging Slava, a local photographer I had made contact with though a Vladivostok facebook group.

I was one of the last to get off the bus. I handed my 100 ruble to the driver and proceeded to nearly knock myself out with the sliding door. Many passengers before me had struggled to open the thing so I gave it all my strength from the start and thats when steel arm fastening it to the roof nailed me in the head. I don’t think the driver or remaining passenger knew why I was swearing when I got out.

It was love at first site. European meets historical, meets asian, meets communist meets port city meets urban decay meets RUSSIA. There was so much texture here. I couldn’t stop shooting photos on the short 300 meter walk to my guest house Gallery and More.

After settling into my cozy albeit slightly smelly room I headed out to change some money camera in hand. On the way I ate what may be the best “burrito” (that’s what they call it but it really more like a donair) of my life. It was so flavourful and cost just under 3 bucks. The cute worker in the back let me grab her portrait. When I asked her to come outside for it she showed me the dough on her hand and I asked her to hold that pose.

My fist impression of the people here would include the following adjectives: real, no frills, strong, confident, fun, affectionate, approachable, good looking, euro, unique, stylish… I notice 95% of the locals dress in dark colours, lots of black, grey and denim. They don’t contrast harshly with the surrounding like many of the tourists.

The women have this air of confidence to them I’m very un akin to after 10 years in Korea. I don’t understand a word of Russian, my Korean is only slightly better. Yet as I sit here in this cocktail bar observing the tables of women and men I feel as though there is far more equality, that the ladies are not just there as a petty show piece, that they are contributing something meaningful to the conversation. But what do I know, I don’t speak Russian… Back to my day.

I took a walk down at the harbour and then met up with Slava the photographer and his graphic designer wife which is kinda funny because I’m a photographer with a graphic designer wife. We also both have short beards and longish hair… hmmmmm.

These two awesome people took me around the harbour and then pointed out what they claim to be the best coffee in Vladivostok. Slava’s wife left and he took me to an outdoor store to look for a jacket (I don’t pack much warm stuff). I walked out empty handed but Slava found a red sweater.

Slava and I then hit a supermarket to buy lunch for tomorrow. I was jumping off the wall with excitement. Supermarkets are what Hyunmi and I DO in every foreign country. We can spend hours just browsing everyday items like dairy and hardware. I wanted to try everything, all the milk, cheeses, sausages, deli meats, breads, juices and snacks!!! I vowed to return. I know I will be returning home with a very heavy suitcase.

So why did we buy lunch? Well it turns Slava has to run a photography class at a waterfall 3 hours away and has offered to take me along. How cool is that? Talk about hitting the ground running, my first day in Russia and I have taken two buses, met a friend, shopped at a local market and have an excursion to the countryside lined up for day two. I’m super excited. Better get some sleep… oh and edit some client work which is what I set out to do in the first place!

 

Weighing my camera options

Got something even better than free heavy duty plastic bags. Story coming soon…

Four of the top ten photos hash tagged #Vladivostok on Instagram.

Processed with Snapseed.

OBSITICAL

Textures and wardrobe

My humble abode

Hyunmi handbag tease

Street Food

Best donair ever


Most delicious Weissen I’ve had paired with cream of mushroom soup chips.Penicillin

Much of the work I do with couples revolves around proposal and engagement photography where I try to showcase their personalities and emotions against a traditional/urban or natural backdrop. When Jingshan and Chris approached me to do an eighth year anniversary photo session that:

A. “Reflects the vastness of a space with interesting lines

B. “Shows how people in a photograph can add an element of fluidity and softness (although we are not models and I’m not sure how good we will be at this! 😂)”

I was instantly intrigued.

Chris and Jingshan, originally from Singapore, were working in Degu as doctors. They made the trip up to Seoul for our architecture and humans combined photo session. We began at a really cool storm drain I discovered along the Han River. After some beers, dancing, a chance meeting with a toad and many photos we made out way to Donggdaemun Design Plaza for some final images.

It was a new and challenging assignment for all of us. We had a ton of fun and in the end Chris and Jingshan were really pleased with their images:

“Hey Greg,  We love the photos! Took us the whole day to look through the proofs, and we have ended up with 31 photos despite the “ruthless cutting”! Perhaps with your “professional eye for detail” you could recommend which photo to remove?”

Have you seen some cool images where architecture and people combine? Share some links in the comments below!

 

 

I’ve photographed more events than I can count in the last few years. Most conferences follow a fairly predictable flow, reception, key note speakers, break out sessions and a gala dinner. Most attendees behave in fairly predictable ways, stroll in, maybe a little late, mingle, pay little or no attention to the cameras, listen/present and go home. This event turned both of those norms upside down.

Three key things differentiated this conference in Jeju from every other event I’ve photographed:

  1. The quantity of attendees
    A thousand is actually quite a large number. These day’s it doesn’t sound like much, especially if your taking dollars, that can be gone in a heartbeat but when you have 1,000 people in a room that A LOT of people. When you do individual portraits with 582 of them, about half a thousand, you further realize just how many people that is.
  2. The enthusiasm of attendees
    All of the attendees we from China. Every one of them seemed beyond ecstatic to be on Jeju attending this seminar. The event commenced with the main door bursting open and 20 attendees running through the reception area to get a seat in the convention hall. All 1,000 would have stampeded the place had Exomnia not been doing such a superb job of crowd control. The two crew barricading the entrance with their bodies were holding back the remaining 980 eager conference goers.This was just the beginning. Once the crowd spotted me and my assistant taking their photos they posed excitedly for our cameras and called in all of their friends. Groups grew so large we couldn’t fit everyone in the frame. Our attendees didn’t just want to be in one photo, they wanted to be in every one, often randomly jumping from their group shot into a another. I would put my camera on a tripod and hold it way up in the air like a giant boom and the crowd would go nuts, amassing, yelling and posing for the shot.

    Believe it or not things got crazier. Soon my assistant and I were being approached from all angles, even dragged at some points into portraits. We had gone from photographers to models posing for selfies and groups shots with attendees. It didn’t take long before celebrity status crushed us, after just 10 minutes we ran to a private area to gather ourselves and resume documenting the event.

    Honestly it felt more like what I imagine documenting a pop icon’s concert would be be like. At times we even felt like the icon. We quickly learned we had to say no to modeling and excessive group shots so things wouldn’t snow ball out of hand. By day two we had the system down.

  3. The requirement to shoot 582 portraits in under two hours
    582 Portraits in 98 Minutes = 10.103 SPP Seconds Per Portrait (5.0515 SPP) that if you count the second booth my partner was running). That’s a pretty insane pace to shoot a portrait. One that I would have told you is impossible just a few days ago. The only reason we were able to make it happen is because of the Exomnia event team. There is something special about Singaporean event organizers, they are incredibly well organized, hard working, easy going yet firm and even manage to keep there sense of humor and fun-loving attitude throughout. Some of my biggest events for companies like American Express, Philip Morris and Schroders have been organized by Singaporeans event companies but Exomnia raised the already high bar to new levels.Exomnia communicated exactly what they wanted, listened to our suggestions and worked with us to make it a flawless production. The crew would take time to remind us where we needed to be and was going to happen shortly before it happened. They created the photo booth layout with guide ropes and all that allowed over 500 people to have two individual portraits taken in just 98 minutes. During the actual shooting one crew managed the flow from the auditorium, another was responsible for holding items such as bags and phones for each individual during their portrait, another positioned them into the portrait and another on pulled them out and returned their items. Then the individual proceeded to the next booth. It went like clockwork.

Aside from the above mentioned things the event was fairly standard. In fact, there was virtually no reception spent mingling over drinks, limited branding and no gala dinner. All the hard work and planning we put in paid off resulting in a very smooth event.

It wasn’t all work in Jeju though. I took an extra day on each end to enjoy the island. Much of my time was spent photographing the landscapes of course. Seoul rarely offers the same quality of air and clouds Jeju has on a near daily bases. I grabbed some really cool long exposures down at the ocean after midnight. I also hiked South Korea’s tallest mountain, Mt. Hallasan. We also indulged in some tasty cuisine including authentic style fish and chips, Jeju BBQ black pig wish was out of this world amazing and some pizza and craft brew and Magpie’s.

Are you looking for an event photographer in Jeju? Please get in touch to discuss!

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Chi running – in essence, the art of running like a cartoon character.

Today I gave it a try. My stupid credit card expired on iTunes so I couldn’t download the app, instead, I watched a few free tutorials on YouTube.

I alternated between what it looked like I should be doing, and what I thought I had been doing and suddenly my heal strike seemed clear as day. This might explain the heel wear pattern on my runners and feelings of inflammation in my knees.

With as much focus as I could muster I tuned into the FEELING of today’s run and there were brief moments where I think my technique was coming together. A good indicator of proper form for me (or at least what I hope was proper form) was the sound and feeling of my foot hitting the ground. When I couldn’t here the scuff of resistance, when it felt and sounded like I was rolling over the asphalt, when my upper body was more or less motionless, that’s when I think I was doing things right. For a moment my running really did feel like a “controlled free fall”.

The hardest part was remembering to keep my feet parallel and not over step. I did my best not to over extend my foot and land on the mid sections of my runner, virtually no heel at all. I observed that if you don’t push a little on take off it just feels bouncy and high impact. As soon as I pushed back and lengthened my stride to the rear the fall and roll seemed to happen more naturally.

Of course my pace dropped as I focused on technique but I also ran further with what felt like a lot less effort. Feels good to sweat again. I only subbed two or three days of running for yoga but man did I miss it.

Time to chrun home.

Here’s how I exercised today: 5km Chi walk/run

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3 Things I’m grateful for: To be running again! Kinda keeping my cool during this morning’s spat. Going to Jeju with my buddy Dylan tomorrow.
What I ate yesterday: 1/4 of an over sweetened pomegranate juice, amazing Canucks kimchee egg burger, double gin pickle juice spicy Cesar / bloody marry, 1/2 cold brew, 1/4 of that butter fried squid, peanuts, fried fish and one beer (the last three things were part of an editorial on a pub.

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Random act of kindness: Offering to help out with anything around the house for an hour before going to work.
Cool thing of the day: Update: I just got home and am floored to see I had one of my faster, maybe fastest kilometers to date. The left side is from the same stretch on August 4th, about two weeks ago, and I remember feeling like I was sprinting all out to try and get my best pace. Today I felt like I was just dabbling in running, messing around, experimenting. I didn’t feel like I was pushing hard at any point in the run, I actually felt like I was holding back so I’m really surprised to have gotten one of my fastest kilometers yet. See image below.

004-160818-Chi-Running-Faster-SplitsBlogging time: 40 Min