Event Photography. Doljabi – Korean First Birthday Celebration

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.


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!


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