I was so honored to photograph Penny's 1st birthday party last week. It was my first Korean Dol, and it was lovely. Of course when I was first contacted to photograph the event I jumped on Wikipedia, which explained:
Dol (doljanchi, or tol) is probably one of the best-known of the Korean birthday celebrations. Dol is celebrated for the first birthday of a child. When Korea had little medicinal knowledge, many newborns would die from childhood diseases or because of Korea’s seasonal temperature differences. When a child lived to be a year old during that period, it was a very joyous occasion.
When I arrived at the birthday party, the house was full of loving family from many generations. It was very cool to see just how much this little girl was being celebrated.We took lots of portraits of the different groups of family, but it is the documentary family photography from the day that I love.
First up after the portraits was dressing Penny. There is a special outfit that the birthday baby wears, a beautiful dress and hat. It was moving to watch as Penny's mother and grandmother dressed Penny for the ceremony:
But the really fun part of the Dol for me (and the highlight of the celebration) was to witness the Doljabi. This is when the family places the one year old in front of different objects, and the item the baby chooses is thought to predict her future. What fun! Penny, as you'll see, chose the stethoscope--but notice grandma's hand in the bottom corner of the third shot down! Busted!! :)
And then of course every 1st birthday party needs cake. Lots of it. Penny started off with a personal cake, which she was not shy about enjoying. Some babies are not sure what to do with a cake set down in front of them, but Penny dug into and performed a lovely cake smash--complete with sharing some with family!
Everyone else at the party enjoyed a different cake--which the older cousins were more than happy to help blow out the candles on:
I love telling and saving family stories through photography and videography. So many of the memories I have of my childhood or even of my kids when they were younger are actually pictures that were taken. Family photography is a way of honoring and setting in memory the love and importance of family.
Chanda Williams is a natural light photographer in Atlanta, specializing in authentic and emotive family photography.