Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Quiet Morning on HaLong Bay

I stir awake drifting out of a dream. My eyelids feels heavy as I attempt to bounce them open. I see a streak of light pouring into the room. It must be morning. I reach out to the night stand blindly searching for my phone - 6:30am. It was morning and much earlier than I thought. I put my phone down and return under the warm sheets. As I lie in bed listening to the silence, memories of the previous day starting flowing: the four hour drive from Hanoi to HaLong Bay, checking into our room, visiting the floating village, the delicious five course dinner and squid fishing in the dark. I remember seeing other cruise ships anchored around us and asked our guide about it. She mentioned in the evenings all the cruise ships are required to anchor in this specific location. Remembering this, I slid out of bed to find out if we’ve moved.

I quickly freshen up, collected my photography gear and tiptoed to our balcony. I was greeted with scattered limestone islands, cruise ships and fishing boats. In the distance, the limestone islands were covered in fog but it was surprisingly warm and so quiet. All I could hear was the humming of the engine. I discovered we were no longer anchored and cruising at a very slow speed. I sat there appreciating the moment, the silence, the view and all that was passing by before picking up my camera.

Here are my photos taken on my Hasselblad on that very first morning I woke up on HaLong Bay.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Time & Imperfection

I wanted to shoot a still life that reflected time. I went gathering around the house for miscellaneous items that represented it. The watch I often glance at while at work running from one meeting to the next. The two hourglasses on my desk, one measuring a five minute break and the other measuring thirty minutes of focus. The Chanel face cream I apply in the evening in hopes to delay the evidence of passed time on my forehead and underneath my eyes. A camera pencil sharpener representing the cameras I've used to capture a moment in time.

On my first attempt I used a soft box with a white background. It turned out pretty awful but that didn't discourage me. Instead I appreciated how terrible it was. In my mind I had envisioned: dark mood with hard shadows and bright highlights. Instead I got something that looked like direct flash on some office supplies. It was bad but it gave me so much joy to know that I have so much growth and learning ahead of me.

I’m starting to understand and appreciate the process more so than ever before. And the relationship between time and growth, vision and execution. I considered this my creative rock bottom and from rock bottom there’s only one way to go. Instead of packing it all up and never bring my idea to fruition I slept on it and waited for daylight.

When the morning came, I jumped out of bed and gathered all my things. I sat on the living room floor studying the light before deciding where I would set up. After playing around with the lighting and rearranging some of my props I got much closer to what I had envisioned.

My goal for 2018 is to create. That’s it. To trust that I will grow and become better over time. Every time I pick up my camera I’m learning something new. It’s not perfect but it’s progress and that’s what I’m striving for in 2018.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Le Painer

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On my 31st birthday my sisters came over to spend the day with me. Ian was away on a trip and they didn’t want me spending my birthday alone. The older I get the more introverted I seem to become so the idea of a birthday alone wasn’t terrible. I didn’t mind it at all but having the company of my sisters is always a great time.

The day consisted of my favorite weekend activity: brunch and a visiting to the market. They insisted I should have cake for my birthday but I didn’t want cake. I felt it was too formal and stuffy for the day I was having and the mood I was in. Instead I suggested macaroons from Le Painer. We picked up about a dozen, one in each flavor and brought them home. Over a cup of hot tea we enjoyed the macaroons, cut in half, family style to share and exchange tasting notes. It was perfect.

This past weekend we stopped by La Panier to pick up a few thing: macaroons for a Christmas party with friends, a turkey sandwich for lunch and chocolate croissants for my sisters. I brought my camera with me; something I’m not proud to admit I haven’t done in awhile. I take so much joy in thinking of different ways to photograph a place I frequent or to see it through the way of the camera. However the best thing for me, as I was looking through the photos I took, were the memories that came up, such as my 31st birthday spent with my sisters.

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Le Panier is located at Pike Place Market. Everything I’ve tried has been delicious but my regulars are the macaroons, the turkey sandwich made on their classic baguette and the chocolate croissant. It doesn’t matter what time of the day you go, you will always find a the line starts at the front door but it moves fairly quickly.

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La Panier // In Pike Place Market
1902 Pike Place
Seattle WA 98101

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Kimchi Jjigae


Cooking for others stresses me out. Cooking for myself is therapeutic. Recently I figured out why: cooking is experimental. I enjoy playing with ingredients and figuring out my own way of make something to my liking, or in this case, taste.

On most days I don't cook. For lunch I'll either grab something to go or dine at a restaurant enjoying a meal in solitude. Dinner is typically spent with Ian somewhere in our neighborhood. We're blessed to live in a city with a plethora of different cuisines. Cooking is reserved for moments when time is a luxury such as nights when I'm alone.

The idea to make something in my kitchen usually sparks when I'm dining out and have eaten something really delicious. So delicious it will entice me to attempt it at home so that I can always enjoy it whenever I want.


This Kimchi Jjigae (and many iterations of it) was inspired by Kang Hodong Baekjeong in Koreatown. My dental hygienist recommended the place but warned us about the long wait. She suggested we go as late in the evening as possible. After a full day of work, Ian and I arrived in LA around 10pm and starving. The restaurant was a few blocks from The Line making it the perfect time to go. We were there for the Korean BBQ which deserves mentioning as it was also memorable and delicious but the jjiae stole the show.

After a few spoonful of jjigae I turn to Ian with wide eyes and asked, "Do you think we can make this at home?" He quickly tries the jjiage, "Of course!" And he starts listing the ingredients. He has a talent for breaking down ingredients through taste. I think it's magical and am always so impressed.

With the colder weather upon us, I've been spending the last few months perfecting my take on Kimchi Jjiae. The first try was passable but tonight's was exactly how I liked it: the perfect level of sour and spice.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Joshua Tree

It’s after dinner the dishes are in the wash and Ian and I have retreated to our respective corners in the condo. He’s working on his painting of Joshua Tree and I’m reflecting on the photographs I took this past summer. This household is thinking of warmer days on this fall evening.

Visiting Joshua Tree was Ian’s idea. He had gone last year to take photographs for the painting he’s currently working on and for some reason I was unable to go. On our last trip to LA we were going for an extended time and decided to squeezed in a day trip for me to see it.

The great thing about going somewhere new with someone who’s already been is knowing what to anticipate. The park can be explored by feet, bike or car. I picked car. It made for a leisurely drive throughout the park. Anytime we saw something interesting we’d pull over to have a closer look: a valley full of Joshua Trees, boulders (which we bravely climbed like mischevious children) and the panoramic view at Key View.

Joshua Tree | September 2017