NYC Family Photographer {Event Photography. Doljabi - Korean First Birthday Celebration}

March 06, 2018  •  5 Comments

First birthdays are very special. Yes, the celebration is mostly for us - parents, but we truly deserve it! We not only gave life to this little human, we also survived the first year. The year of sleepless nights, dirty diapers and unconditional love.

While there is no way for the baby to remember this special celebration, we truly want her to!

Esther contacted me back in July to inquire about photography coverage for her daughter’s first birthday. As we were talking on the phone, she mentioned that she is so happy she found me. It turned out that finding the right person for this job was quite a challenge. Another photographer was recommended to her, but while checking that person’s website her husband Sang raised a concern: "Is she even a real photographer?"

You see it’s tricky to say whether a photographer is "real" or not. It’s not like a doctor or a teacher who must have certain degrees and certificates. Yet Esther was determined to find the answer to Sang’s question and that’s how she got to a PPA website (Professional Photographers of America) where she finally found me and got a heartfelt approval by her husband.

What can be more fulfilling than working with people who have a deep appreciation of your craft?

The most important part of the party was a Dol ceremony. Dol or Doljabi is a Korean tradition that celebrates the first birthday of a baby. The birthday baby wears a hanbok - traditional Korean dress. And Merav actually had two beautiful outfits - "the joys of having a girl"! 

The highlight of the Dol is a ritual where the child is placed in front of the objects that are symbolizing different professions. The child is then urged to pick up an object. It is believed the one selected will foretell the child's future. For example, if the child picks up a brush or a book, he/she is destined to be smart. If he/she picks up money he will be wealthy; if he/she picks up food that means he/she will not be hungry. If the child picks up the thread, it is believed he/she will live a long life. The types of objects, placed in front of the baby to choose, has evolved over time, as a reflection of society's evolving perception of successful occupations.

Without too much hesitation Merav chose the judicial hammer, which made both her and the family super excited!

I felt extremely honored that Esther and Sang trusted me to document their memories and that Merav now has this piece of her childhood recorded and printed in a stunning album.




Watch the slideshow to see more images from this party:

You put all your heart into organizing your baby's first birthday. Make sure your photographer will capture it the right way, so you'll enjoy it for many years to come. Let's chat about your next party!



Jenna Christina(non-registered)
I love that you bring up the fact that the 1st birthday is kind of mostly for the parents as well – and you really showcase what the occasion feels like for the grownups involved.
David Mullin(non-registered)
I had no idea about that Korean tradition. Thank you so much for educating me on such a wonderful practice from a different culture. You captured the event with some fantastic photos!
This is SO interesting! I had no idea these sorts of celebrations occurred. As always, I love the way you've truly documented the connection and the joy between this little baby and all her relatives. That looked like an amazing party!! Thank you so much for sharing! And yes, you are definitely a REAL photographer!! New York is lucky to have you!
What a beautiful celebration and you have captured it perfectly.
Diana Sherblom(non-registered)
Yes Polina! I can definitely vouch for you as a "real" photographer and an excellent one at that! What a beautiful and meaningful collection of first birthday memories. It's so important to have photographs of those early days that are usually before a child can clearly remember, to see how much they were and are loved!
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