2015 in review is probably the best title for this post. I find reflecting back on work to be incredibly helpful, and for the most part, enjoyable. Looking back on this year, being all that it was, was a fun way to pass a few of my cold winter evenings. This post is my personal look back of what has been a pretty big year for me when it comes to my photography.

This was the year when I made peace with the idea of calling myself a photographer. Even though I’ve had my work used for marketing, graduation albums and in the local newspaper, I was always uncomfortable with the word. Primarily because I’ve always wanted my work to do all the talking for me. This year was the year that changed, and I began reaching out more, as well as being pushed more.

Anyway, here they are in chronological order. I hope you enjoy them.

01 – Hanoi (Hanoi, Vietnam / Feb ’15)

Travelling is one of the best ways to snap out of a funk, and that’s what this trip was. We hit Hanoi and Halong over Tet (Vietnamese New Year), and even though I loved the bay, the images of Hanoi stayed with me. I loved the feel of the city, just how rustic and real it was. It felt so organic after being in Seoul.

Note: I’d been toying with the idea of switching to full frame for about 6 months, but was still shooting with my Lumix GH3, and loving it. It’s a great hybrid between stills and video that I was using a lot for day job. Plus I had two beautiful lenses for it, the 25mm f1.4 Pana/Leica, and the amazing 75mm f.18 Olympus. The Olympus was my main reason for not wanting to switch. Anyway, it got stolen on this trip. So I came back, traded everything in.



02 – Ellen (Paju-si, South Korea / March ’15)

The Korean school year starts in March. All the new children arrive to begin their schooling, and we have lots of work. We take a lot of pictures in the first 2 months, to help give the school a sense that the new children have been there for ages, just to help new parents, and their children settle in. Ellen was a cute, charismatic little bundle that couldn’t help but play with everything around her during my lessons. After 5 years of photographing children for the school, this might be my favourite image.

Note: I was also breaking a new camera and lens in (Nikon D750 and 85mm f1.8G) and discovering that the difference between full frame and m4/3 was huge.


03 – @NicQueen (Provence, South Korea / May ’15)

Hannie J, co-worker, friend, and butt-kicker. Hannie J had a friend visiting Korea from LA, who was getting into fashion blogging, and needed better pictures. Hannie J knew that I was looking to photograph something other than my travels, children or my friends in a bar. So the three of us set up a shoot, and headed to Korea’s faux french village. It was my first time working with a model, we got some awesome pictures for her sponsors and clients, and I was off the mark. NicQueen was awesome to work with, super easy going, and wonderfully bubbly. Upon seeing the first batch of images, we immediately set up another shoot.


04 – Summer (Paju-si, South Korea / June ’15)

I really like the work of Marco Devon (instagram: @marcodevonphoto), a local expat photographer here in Korea. I found myself wanting to emulate his intensely moody pictures, albeit perhaps in my own way. Not because I’m particularly original or anything like that, but because I don’t he’d produce an image like this (as it’s actually not his style). My girlfriend Ivory came back from the Phillpines with a sun tan and a fake henna tattoo. This is what I came up with. It was my moody take on all the usual sights of summer,


05 – After the Storm (Paju-si, South Korea / Aug ’15)

Korea has summer rains. Which is just as well, as the summer’s are super sticky. And hot. This was my 6th one, and honestly, I don’t know if I’ll ever be completely used to them. Just outside my work are a series of rice paddies, and it had been pouring all day, but let up about an hour before work ended. I’d been wanting photos of the summer rains, and photos of the rice paddies, and they both came together that day. This photo was also featured by a local publication “Photographers in Korea” in their “Best of the Summer Collection”.



06 – Light Trails (Paju-si, South Korea / Aug ’15)

About 2 months back, I’d bought speedlights, triggers, umbrellas and stands to aid my quest to take my photography more seriously. And then I had no one to shoot. Regular collaborator NicQueen was back in L.A., and I was out of luck. Enter my wonderful girlfriend, who after dinner, suggested we go to the park, and I could try my lights and techniques out. This little test shoot ended up laying the ground work for a shoot I did for a couple on incredibly short notice after work one day. My girlfriend is pretty awesome.


07 – Marshmallow (iCS Hopeschool / Sep ’15)

This is Erin. Erin is 5 years old. Erin doesn’t like to study.


About Seoul photographer Tim Van Der Merwe

Seoul photographer Tim Van Der Merwe services Seoul and her greater area, with a primary focus on portraiture, couple and pre-wedding photography. His photographic style is inherently influenced by photo-journalism, with a love of genuine emotion and untouched, moments of humanity and expression. The aesthetics of his photographs are informed from years as a musician, a love of the ocean, an appreciation for a wabi-sabi outlook on life, and a love of strong colouring. If you are looking for a Seoul photographer, you can view his portfolio here, view his recent work here, or get in contact with him here.