Family Trip to South Korea | Life of Photographers

Our yearly family travels has taken us to many cities like Italy, Paris, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, London, Japan, New York, Houston and this year to Tbilisi and South Korea. We have made it as a family goal to travel to some place new every year as long as we can - physically and financially. Traveling has opened our eyes to the many cultures and to respect these diversities. It has taught the kids a lot about geography and why each country is different. Kurt, our 2 year old son, would often check our phones for world weather and he knows that Tokyo is "very far" just by looking at the map. I have also encouraged Khloe to make a scrapbook and write short essays about her experiences. Their bodies have also become more resilient to colds and flu. They still do get them but ironically they get infected when we are staying at home. And the best thing about travel is that you realize that the best things in this world is not the material things but the experiences and moments you create.

I would like to encourage everyone I know to travel although it is not for everyone. Traveling involves a lot of planning (which is also one of the best part of it) to make the most out of it. If you decide to travel, travel smart.

"If you decide to travel, travel smart."

Last August, we decided to see South Korea. Filipinos need to apply for visa and but as of this writing, there is no fee to pay. It would take 4 to 5 working days to get your visa stamped. In Dubai, the Korean Consulate is in Jumeirah and you just need to come with all the required documents. You can check here the list of requirements.

We booked our flights through Kiwi.com and hotels through booking.com. Being based in Dubai, we found it cheaper to book a return ticket from Dubai to Manila and then just fly from Manila to Incheon and return instead of flying multi-city. Maybe depending on the season.

We took an afternoon flight from Manila and arrived in the evening at the Incheon Airport. Based on my friend's advise, we took a T-mobile card so we will have mobile data wherever we go. For a sim with unlimited data for 5 days, we only paid less than 100aed. From Incheon Airport to Seoul, it was about an hour away. There are airport limo buses which you can take and they have strategic stops in the city. It is much cheaper than taking a taxi or Uber.

We booked rooms in Hotel PJ in Myeongdong. The airport bus stop was just a street away but because google maps was acting up that time, we took the long route and reached the hotel by 11pm after half an hour walking with our luggage. Not all Koreans speak English as well so no one could point to us to the right direction. Tired and exhausted, we were glad that there were some convenient stores and restaurants that were still open in the area.

Day 1

They warned us that August will be hot and humid at an average of 28-30 degrees. I thought that will be like a breeze compared to Dubai's summer peaking at 51. But walking on the streets on that weather was HOT! We were sweaty and we immediately got ourselves battery operated necklace fans. Everybody had them and having them too made us look like locals.

Our first day was an epic fail. Blame me. I made the itinerary and Gyeongbogkung Palace was our first destination. I forgot to check that it was closed on Tuesdays! Kurt fell while running and got wounds on his knees. Good thing our lunch compensated for our wasted time. Food is one of the best thing about South Korea, you can never go wrong!

Lesson # 1: Check the opening timings of all your itineraries! 

The subway system in Seoul is the best way to go around. I downloaded the Rail Map Lite app to help us get around. iTour Seoul app helped me in planning where to go. And again, unfortunately for us, our second destination for the day was also closed. The Dongdaenum clothing market was closed and we do not know the reason. Nobody could tell us why and when they will open.

Our third destination did not disappoint us though. We walked the streets of Myeong-dong during the evening and we got our cosmetic stash from the place. Myeongdong is the place where you can shop for cosmetics at low prices. It is also lined with delicious street food! Yum!

Here are our photos from our first day

Even With Gyeongbokgung Palace closed on Tuesdays, the kids enjoyed running around in the heat

You can rent Hanboks (Korean traditional dresses) near Gyeongbokgung Palace to dress up

At Dongdaemun

At Myeongdong

Day 2

We scheduled our trip to Nami Island on this day. A lot of Filipinos watch Korea novelas and one of the first korea novelas that became popular in the Philippines was the Winter Sonata which Filipinos got crazy about. And part of that series was shot at the beautiful Nami Island. I will not elaborate how to go there. There are blogs like this one which will tell you how to reach there or you can check with your hotel concierge and they will help you out.

Nami Island is beautiful but it can be crowded during the summer with kids having school breaks. You will see a lot of young lovers having a day-out walking around Nami Island holding hands. One thing we have noticed with Koreans is that they like to dress to match their partners. I should have taken a lot of photos but it just slipped my mind. I am not used to taking photos of people without asking permission. UAE thing.

We would have also gone and visited Petite France but time did not permit us. Our body clocks have not adjusted yet so we were waking up past 9am already. Maybe it will give us a reason to visit Seoul again.

Lesson # 2: Plan your day with "jet-lag" in mind. Do not force your bodies as they will adjust eventually. 

Khloe was getting impatient with the train and this kind old lady gave her a monggo popsicle.
 My mother trying her best to communicate using every kind of gesture. Guess what is she saying here

Day 3

This time we made sure Gyeongbogkung Palace is now open! It was worth a second try.

After that, we went to Insa-dong street for some authentic Korean souvenirs. There some scattered rain showers that day but it was a pleasant change of weather. Insadong for me is a must see place in Seoul with small shops selling cute handcrafted items.

After Insa-dong, we went back to check if the shops in Dongdaenum were open. Unfortunately, the clothing shops were still closed. So we just checked the malls and had dinner there.

Day 4 - we fly back to Manila

Three days in Seoul is not enough to see all the great places. I think 5 days will suffice. The people are very kind especially the elderly. We were offered food by elderly strangers and in the subway, it was the elderly who gave their seats to our kids. The food in Seoul is one of the best and we will not forget that one. And Khloe even lost her first tooth on our last day there too. So yeah, it was one memorable trip.

 

 


Look & Feel : BENQ 27" Photographer Monitor

Thanks to BenQ Middle East for giving us a chance to feel and experience the new BenQ SW Series Monitor designed for Photographers and Cinematographers like us. As of now we are Mac users from video editing and even on photo retouching, we are using these machines since we started our photography business. We are using it because the quality of colors from the monitor is really stunning (in our own opinion -- ).

BenQ representative gave us a call if we are ok to try their new product which is the 27 inches BenQ Monitor (SW Series), they said it is a photographer monitor. So we gave it a try. First impression was hmmmm, I thought it was a good competitor of the Mac Monitor but less expensive.

I have my Macbook pro early 2014, I tried to connect to it using thunderbolt connector (including on the package) as my second monitor and the result is stunning as it has the same feel with Mac. The colors and quality were the same. This was a good buy for a photographer and cinematographer like us. Here some of the photos of the BenQ SW Series:

KEY FEATURES

  • 27”W 2560x1440 QHD Resolution
  • 99% Adobe RGB with IPS technology
  • Hardware Calibration with accuracy color
  • Palette Master Element color calibration software
  • Black-and-White photo mode
  • Shading Hood / OSD controller

Here is the in-depth review given by Dario Gardiman:


Award Winning Short Film: Aurora | Dubai Videographer MelRish

Today we met a couple who have been following our work and mentioned how I haven't blogged for some time now. I felt so happy and flattered to hear it but I was also disappointed because I have always thought about updating our blog but have not had the time to do so for ages. Since it is the Eid holidays, I finally have the time to update our website! Shoutout to Deepa for inspiring me to write again!

I have been delaying sharing our first short film but I finally decided to share it today. It started last year when we got the opportunity to join the 48hr Film Project. We have been Dubai videographers for weddings and this is something new for us. Following the footsteps of some peers in the industry, I decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, it fell on a busy month and we had 2 weddings that weekend too. But since we were already registered and opportunity was right in front of me, I decided to grab it. I will not elaborate the mechanics of the 48hr Film Project because you can read them here.It is outright fun and challenging.

I am really thankful for Danabelle, my superwoman friend who played Aurora in the film. She won the Best Actress award and she totally deserved it. I am thankful for my team mates who wholeheartedly helped complete the film and thankful for Dan Soriano and Trix my sister. After filming the event, me, Yahn and Koreen ran to shoot a wedding. The next morning, I started editing. What a weekend! It was emotionally tiring with detractors but it was mostly fun. Danabelle and Dan were the perfect tandem. They made shooting the film so much fun. You can watch how much fun we had with this Behind The Scenes video

Aurora BTS from Melrish Photos and Films on Vimeo.

We are blessed to won the following awards for our first short film:

Best in Writing 48Hr Film Project

1st Runner Up 48Hr Film Project

Best Actress for Danabelle 48Hr Film Project

Most Promising Film Maker 48Hr Film Project

Best Director Emirates Short Film Festival 2017

Best Actress Emirates Short Film Festival 2017

London Monthly Film Festival

I was featured on Illustrado Go, Filipino Times and Kabayan weekly because of the awards. I was also invited to guest at the show Pinoy After Hours. And now I am nominated as Film Maker of the Year for the Filipino Times Awards 2017.  It was a humbling experience to be featured and interviewed. I am not used to the limelight. When I wrote the film, I didn't intend to win. My intention was to create a film that would impart a lesson. I wanted to create a film that has some social relevance. As an artist, it our responsibility to use our talent and skill not only for something to be beautiful but it should also make a difference. Aurora was made to empower women everywhere. I would love to tell you more about my thoughts but here is the our entry to the 48Hr Film Project.

Aurora - Movie from Melrish Photos and Films on Vimeo.

 

 

 


Out & About: Colours of Arabia

It has been a happening 2 months since November. Weddings and events here and there and whenever I see a gap in timings, I made sure it was well spent with the kids and family. There are so many things we are thankful for but an experience made me realize that there are some things we take for granted. There are intangible blessings in life that we do not notice we are blessed with.

Last month, I was invited to participate in a dining in the dark experience sponsored by Colours of Arabia sponsored by Berger Paints. Being a photographer, I am a visual person and I am very dependent on (my camera) my eyesight. The invitation was to dine in this unique restaurant called Noire. Of course, when it comes to food, I couldn't turn down the offer.

So me and Koreen went curious about the experience. There was a briefing first to let us know what this experience is all about. When we watched the short video, we suddenly thought that this "dining in the dark" really meant pitch black. I was under the impression that it would just be darker than the usual candlelight dinner with dim lights.

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Watch this video so you will have an idea of what I will be writing about.

After the briefing, they let us to Noire for another briefing. Our assumptions were right. It will be a completely dark experience. We will be eating like blind people. How dark you may ask? Close your eyes and eat...that's how dark it is. Waiters had to wear night vision goggles to serve our food. The exciting thing also is that you do not know what food you are going to get. When you book with Noire, you will have to indicate your preference and if you are allergic to some types of food upon booking. It was first time in my life that I somewhat felt helpless. Without my eyesight, it was so difficult to walk (you will be guided to walk inside Noire), eat and drink. I wasn't even sure if I had finished my food. After 1 and a half hour, after a delicious 3 course meal, we were free! After the experience, they will let you know and show you what you ate. Taa daa!

Don't look at it to closely as they serve different dishes everyday. It will be a surprise.

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When I went home, not only was I full but I also realized how blessed I am to have the gift of sight. It is a GIFT! Whenever I take photos, I am blessed because I see these beautiful things around that some people don't. I am thankful that I get to share it to people too.

Thank you Berger Paints for inviting me to this unique experience and "opening" my eyes to what we really should be thankful for.


Exploring Food Photography

One of our regular client has recently opened a coffee shop and she gave us a call asking us to shoot some photos of their offerings for their social media. She loved our work especially on her wedding and she has seen our website but then she asked if we had shot food already. I didn't know what to answer. I was confident we can deliver her requirements but I had nothing to show. I cannot wait for someone to call me and ask me to shoot their food to make a portfolio. We needed to be proactive if we want to be a food photographer in Dubai. So we planned to create a food portfolio. Food photography...bring it on!

One of our photographers, Yahn, had a passion for food photography and food styling so I got her on board for this project. She conceptualized the setups and showed me her ideas. We both dug into our home cupboards and brought plates, trays, chopping boards and props for the shoot. We went to the grocery to grab fresh vegetables, cooked chicken, bread and cupcakes. It was a learning experience for us and once during the day, the mess was overwhelming, Good thing we didn't have walk-in clients that day! ..And the perks of shooting food, you get to eat some of the food after!

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After a full day of grocery shopping, preparing, and shooting, it was time to edit the photos and voila! We finally have a basic food portfolio. So what did our setup look like for those wondering - for the dark background shots, we used a black backdrop, got 2 sided foam boards to reflect light and to absorb light. And since our window light is temporarily blocked, we used diffused video light. Food photography experts, your feedback will be more than welcome. We will be eager to learn from you!

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So a week before we started with this portfolio, we also had a shoot in the studio for one of the biggest food brands in the Middle East, Al Islami. We had their ambassador, Bella and their burgers in the studio until late night for this shoot. So it was a pleasant surprise yesterday to see our shot printed and displayed along Mohammad Bin Zayed Road! Looking forward to more food photography projects.

Food photography Dubai Food photography Dubai Food photography Dubai

 


One Day in Vienna

When we travel, try and soak in the local lifestyle and culture and try to visit as many places we can. It is more difficult to be on the go with 2 kids because we have to make several stops to make sure they are hydrated and fed and they are not tired too much. We want the experience to be pleasant to them as much as possible.

After Switzerland and before heading to Budapest for our destination wedding, we had one day in Vienna. We stayed in a lovely apartment in Leopoldstadt. Our dear friend who stays in Vienna took a half day off to take us around.

One day in Vienna

One day in Vienna

One day in Vienna

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One day in Vienna

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There were so many places to see in Vienna that we were not able to visit. Salzburg, which was 2 hrs away from Vienna, was also on my bucketlist but we didn't have enough time to go there too. We had a pleasant stay definitely and the sausages we had for breakfast is something I will go back there for. And on our next visit, we will surely stay longer.


7 Tips for a 3 Day Trip to Switzerland - MelRish Travels

And we're back in the sandpit! No, we didn't miss the microwave-like weather because the place we have been to was like heaven. 3 days trip to Switzerland was enough to make my year! Most of our friends who have been to Interlaken, Switzerland recommended that it should be next in our travel list because they said it was a photographer's paradise, heaven on earth. They were not kidding! Interlaken...especially Grindelwald, where we stayed, was like those places you only see in travel magazines. Green grass spotted with flowers and wooden houses with chimeys, snow capped mountains in the background and a river flows quietly through the small village...pretty much what you imagine when you think of fairy tales. We recommend you to visit the place at least once in your life. Here are our 7 tips which might help you in planning a trip to Interlaken, Switzerland.

We had my sister and parents with us so we are a bigger group this time and this time we traveled between 3 countries - Switzerland, Austria and Hungary. TIP 1: If you plan to travel between European countries, get a Eurail pass. It is cheaper to order it online. We booked the 5 day Eurail pass and we got an extra day free which is a total of 6 days of unlimited train rides between the 3 countries. Download the app which will help you check the train schedules and check if your Eurail pass is valid for that route. The app also tells you if need to make seat reservations for that trip.

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Our view from our hotel room
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This is our breakfast spot

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Day 1:

From Zurich airport, we needed to take the train to Bern then switch trains going to Interlaken. We had the Eurail pass so our it covered our trains from Zurich. We went down Interlaken Ost and took the train to Grindelwald. Our train to Grindelwald wasn't covered by our Eurail pass but we get 25% discount. TIP 2: Do not carry so many luggages when traveling between places. We learned this the hard way. We had a lot of luggages full of winter jackets, shoes, a nebulizer for Kurt, a big can of milk for Kurt and baby food. With all the luggages, it was difficult for us to transfer from one train to another.

It was a rainy day in July when our train reached Grindelwald. Grindelwald is hands down the best place we have been to - compared to the Rome, Paris, London, and Venice. Each place has its own beauty but if you are nature lover and if you are looking for a peaceful place to stay, Grindelwald will capture your heart. If you are planning to visit Switzerland, we would definitely recommend you stay in Derby Hotel in Grindelwald. The room we booked was bigger than an average hotel room in Europe and has a cozy feel. It has a fantastic view of the Eiger mountain and the area is quiet and has that Swiss mountain feel compared to the touristy Interlaken. The staff was friendly as well. Here are a few tips we would give those who are planning to go to Interlaken:

TIP 3: Interlaken is more central but a bit more crowded compared to Grindelwald. There are a lot of shops in Interlaken but most of them closes at 8pm.

TIP 4: If you are not staying in Interlaken and only plan to visit the place, you can have a 20 minute stroll from Interlaken West to Interlaken Ost to shop around. The main street is lined up with shops where you can buy souvenirs, watches, chocolate and Swiss knives.

TIP 5:. From Grindelwald, you can visit Jungfraujoch, top of Europe by booking a train ticket to Kleinn Scheindigg and then hopping on to the train which goes up to Jungfraujoch. The Eurail pass will only give you a discount for this trip.

TIP 6: If you have the Eurail pass, Lake Thun boat trip comes free. Catch the boat near the Interlaken West train station. Enjoy the ride with spectacular views and you can alight on Thun stop where you can catch the train back to Interlaken West.

TIP 7: Bring some pocket money because the Swiss watches are cheaper in Switzerland. The chocolate is also better. I regret not getting all the chocolate I need to last me a lifetime. Also, if my kids weren't too small, we would all go skydiving! I think this is the best place to do it.

Those are my 7 tips and I am looking forward to returning to Grindelwald again...Next time, we will be spending more days so we can do some hiking and with less luggage of course. Hope you enjoyed the photos!


Destination Weddings 2016

We are pleased to announce that we our destination weddings 2016 lined up and we have some open slots in some cities. Here are our destination schedule. We have open slots between 25th June and 4th July in Manila. We only have 2 slots available for weddings or engagement shoots. We also have 1 slot open for an engagement shoot or post-wedding in Interlaken, Switzerland. I really think that it would be spectacular to have the Alps as your backdrop. The rest of our dates are pretty booked for these destinations.

destination wedding photographer

Most people dream of traveling. We all have that deep wanderlust that we want to satisfy. And most wedding photographers dream of shooting a destination wedding. We are blessed to have shot a few. We just started in wedding photography in 2009 and we received bookings to shoot 2 weddings in Mumbai, India on our first year. One of those images won us our first award in AGWPJA.

destination weddings

We also shot our friend's wedding in the Philippines that summer in 2009. That same year, we got to travel to Rome, Florence, and Venice. Traveling is so addictive that we decided to go to someplace new every year just for leisure - Singapore in 2010, Malaysia in 2011, Paris in 2012, New York in 2013, Tokyo in 2014 and London in 2015. Some people invest in jewelry, fancy houses and cars and gadgets. For us, we thought that the memories we make and the adventures we take are worth more.

In 2010 and 2011, we shot 1 wedding in the Philippines in each year. In 2012, we shot our first wedding in Qatar. In 2013, we were blessed with the opportunity to go to New York, Washington DC and Houston, Texas. The following year, 2014, we shot this beautiful wedding in Amman, Jordan. We will not be posting a lot of photos from their wedding as we want to respect the couple's wish for privacy. But their wedding in Exit Club was truly beautiful. Jordan was beautiful. You can check our travel photos here on this link. Hopefully we can go back there someday.

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

destination weddings

destination weddings

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

Let me leave you with my favorite quote from Mark Twain with our photo shot in Venice in 2009:

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The SMG One Awards 2014

Last year, we were commissioned by Behind the Scenes Eventology from Jordan to cover one of the biggest events of the year for Starcom Mediavest Group...the SMG One Awards. They hold their annual One Awards in a different city every year and last year, they chose Dubai. Their awards night venue was at the shadow of the tallest building in the world and with the fantastic view of the Dubai Fountain. Representatives from different countries flew to Dubai to attend this prestigious event.

It was a cold evening...we were there the night before to shoot the setting-up timelapse until morning. Preparing for such a big event means sleepless nights and working 24 hrs to get the output we need. But all those stressful waking hours was worth it. The event was a success and everyone had a wonderful evening.

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

The following day, we also had to cover their conference. After the party, time to get on some serious stuff. This two day conference was held in Sofitel the Palm.

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

Dubai Event photography

It was a privilege and quite an experience to cover such a big event. Kudos to Behind The Scenes Eventology for organizing it well. And thank you to our team members who gave it all their best. It was not our first but definitely one of the most memorable. For corporate events photography and videography booking, please don't hesitate to contact us. Below is the video for the event.

SMG One Awards - Behind The Scenes Eventology from Melrish Photos and Films on Vimeo.

 


4 Days in London - Stonehenge, Bath and the Windsor Castle

This is my last post about our short break in London. The day before we left, we went and took a tour to the Stonehenge which was clubbed with a tour inside the Windsor Castle. Our first stop was the Windsor Castle, home to England's kings and queens. Unfortunately, again, we missed the change of guards. Future note, check the schedules of change of guards for Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle as they don't happen everyday in certain times of the year. I heard it is something worth witnessing while you're there.

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Unfortunately, photography wasn't allowed inside the state apartments and precincts. But we enjoyed taking photos outside the castle.

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Our next stop was Bath. I love this village is quite remote and the view going there was refreshing. Rolling hills and trees and stone houses line the road to Bath. I wish I had taken a lot of photos but on my lap was a sleeping baby and we were at the far end of the bus...not a lot of windows there.

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I could spend one full day just strolling around the cobbled streets of the villages in Bath and laze around the greenery near River Avon. The problem with day tours like these is that you don't have a lot of time to explore.

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Our last stop was the Stonehenge. There is nothing spectacular with a group of stones but knowing that they date way back thousands of years ago can amaze you...how and why the men of old thought about it and how they were able to build it without the modern cranes.

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And here are my last 5 tips for traveler parents:

  1. While planning your trip, check with your traveler friends if any of them are planning to go to the same destination. It is always good to have a helping hand. Or check if you know anyone in the city you are going to. It is better to have someone to call if you ever have an emergency,...like that family family you want to take with the London Eye. :)
  2. If you have young readers like my 4 year old, hype them up by making them watch a movie shot in that place or have them read a storybook in that setting. It is fascinating how they retain these information and suddenly blabber in a bus full of tourists how they know that place. They also do not feel bored when you go visit these place because now, they can relate.
  3. Bring bracelet paper bands (the ones they use in theme parks or concerts). Before leaving the hotel , have your child wear one just in case they get lost. "Hi! I'm ____ staying at Hotel _____ with parents _____"
  4. After the trip, make a memory book with your kids. Print some photos, attach tickets and ask your kids to write down their feelings or what they remember best in the place. You will discover a treasure cove of memories in traveling.
  5. Start planning your next vacation...according to your children's age if you plan to bring them along and start saving for it. :)