Tag Archives: photographer

From Nominee To Finalist

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on Facebook that I got nominated for a Small Business award for the annual Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala 2013.

A part of me was surprised, because as a business owner, I didn’t really feel like my business was anywhere near outstanding.  I was barely making it when it came to profits and growth.

Yes, I provided my business services (event photography) to different non-profit organizations whenever I can, but no way is my photography business successful compared to all the other Small Businesses out there.

Another part of me was grateful.  For whatever reason, the people around me have been recognizing the work I have been doing.  In particular, one of the officers of the non-profit organization NAAAP-DFW Janet had nominated me for the award.  There’s no better feeling than to have a peer recognize the work you’ve been doing through an award nomination.

I filled out the questionnaire and sent in my resume to the committee.  I didn’t feel really solid after answering the questionnaire.  When your overall answer to most of the questions start with “that doesn’t really apply to me”, there is little confidence gained in your chance of making it.

I just told myself, “Hey, you should be happy you even got nominated in the first place.  So many other people who work harder than you didn’t even get a chance for nomination.  You’ve already got plenty.  Appreciate what you already have.”

A couple of weeks fly by and I receive an email saying that I’m one of the Finalists for the award.

My first reaction was disbelief, because I wasn’t sure how I got to this point.  Then a sudden burst of adrenaline came next, with the acceptance that I really am one of the Finalist.  Even though I still haven’t won the award, for some odd reason I already felt like a winner.

And now I’m sitting here just reflecting on everything that happened so far that got me to this point:

  1. Last year around this time of the year, I actually attended the previous GDAACC Award Gala 2012.  I wasn’t invited as a guest though.  I was actually covering the event as a second shooter with my friend.  It was my job to get pics of all the award winners.  Funny how one year can change your circumstances so much.  I went from covering the event as a photographer to becoming part of the event as an award finalist.
  2. When you look around at all the successful photographers, you will notice everyone specializes in something.  You will find photographers who are great with weddings, fashion, sports, nature, architecture … etc.  I’ve always wondered what my niche would be.  I think I’ve finally found it.  I will be known as the photographer who does non-profit events.
  3. Then I take a step back and think to myself, who in their right mind aspires to be a non-profit photographer?  It didn’t make sense to me at first until I reflected on my past.  For as long I can remember, I have always volunteered with the youth group at my Vietnamese Catholic Church.  My focus back then was giving to the Vietnamese Catholic community.  Now my focus has broadened to giving to the Asian Business Community.
  4. I made one other connection with my past.  Specifically my passion.  In the past I was passionate in volunteering my time to my youth group.  For the past 2 years, I have been really passionate about photographer.  Without even realizing it, for the past year I have been merging both my past and present passion into what I have right now:  non-profit photography.
  5. Everything has come full circle.  What I mean is I started out as going to the award gala 2012, come 2013, I’m going to the award gala again.  Or with community involvement, I did it for a good 10-15 years with local church, took a 3-4 year break, and now I’m helping out again with the Asian Business community.  My life is filled with things coming full circle.  I’m just grateful that each time I’ve come full circle, I’m somehow in a better place even though the place still looks the same.

Resume I Sent To Award Committee:  https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2PUVKTY6jFGZFc2Q0wyZWtTMm8/edit?usp=sharing

Questionnaire I Sent To Award Committee:  https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2PUVKTY6jFGVUtnSVZMbUgwN2c/edit?usp=sharing

Award Finalist Email From Award Committee:  https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2PUVKTY6jFGQ3NqYjktUi1TcEU/edit?usp=sharing

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FB Status Update: Started From the Bottom, Now I’m Here

Dad told me recently, “Taking pictures is a hobby. You need to stop bumming around and get your ducks in a row.”

What this usually means is he thinks photography is a dead end job with no prestige and honor. I should go back to being a teacher or engineer. Or maybe go back to school to be a doctor.

Friend told me recently, “You can’t make a living off of photography. It’s something you do on the side, after you have a career in something else.”

Which is true, because most of the well-known wedding/event photographers I know, do weddings on the side. They have a tax firm, electronic store, or cell phone service business that they run on the weekdays.

My Aunt told me, “Here’s a business loan for your photography business. You have to promise me that within one year, if things don’t go well you have to move onto something more stable.”

I only got 40 more days until my year is up.



People were getting to me and I was letting them get to me. I wasn’t going to give up photography up completely, but perhaps I would be able to sustain my photography passion with a stable income like librarian or computer lab manager.

It didn’t matter much what I did during the week, as long as during the weekends, I got to do what I loved the most.

Perhaps everyone was right all along. Perhaps last year was a waste. Perhaps I shouldn’t have put my life on hold and poured everything into photography.



Last Wednesday, replied to Craigslist post. Friday got called in interview. Left interview as a full-time architectural photographer with pay comparable to a full-time teacher.

Literally, had tears falling from my eyes because I was so happy. It felt like I just won the lottery. Similar to waking up from a beautiful dream only to realize that it wasn’t just a dream, it’s reality now.

Now, I don’t need to work, save money, and then to go spend it on something I truly love. I can do something I truly love, save money, and then chill until I can do something I truly love again. This is truly my dream job.



I appreciate all the friends and family who have supported me along the way. Friends critiquing my work. Family referring photography business to me. Inspiration and creativity were allowed to flourish with companions like you guys.

At the same time, I got nothing but love for my dad, aunt, and friend. They told me what they knew to be true. It was there own way of showing me love. Full-time photographers are unheard of. Well at least now, they can say they know one full-time photographer.

No photography courses/classes. No photography degrees/certificates. Learning it the hard way by just doing it. Definitely helped to have so many experienced photographers around me to give me tips/advice. Couldn’t have done it without them.



Started from the bottom, now I’m here.

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Fun Time Vs Boring Time

What makes the difference between having fun and being bored?

I recently went to an event with a friend.

We were both photographers.

Yet, we had two different experiences.



If you ask him, whether he had a good time or not?

He would say he was bored out of his mind.

If you ask me, the same question.

I would say I enjoyed the event very much.



The difference between me and him lies in how we spent our time.

I was very involved with all the activities.

I volunteered my time, I took charge of certain projects, I took pics as much as I could.

He took a laid back stance, doing as little as possible even when it came to taking pictures.



It almost felt like he was waiting for life to happen to him.

He was sitting at the dinner table waiting for someone to set the table and feed him.

He expected to be entertained and didn’t want to put in any effort.

His expectations were too high, so he was disappointed.



For me time went by really quick due to all the activities I was a part of.

I was in the kitchen getting down and dirty trying to come up with dishes for my guest.

I wanted to contribute to the entertainment and put out as much as I could.

My expectations were low, so even if I didn’t get much out of it, I was still content.



When you wait for life to happen, you are at the mercy of life.

If there’s nothing happening in life, there’s nothing happening with you.

Life is boring when you have to wait for things to happen.

But waiting for things to happen is a conscious choice that you make.



If you wanted to, you could make things happen in life.

You could be proactive and seek to make life more eventful.

As a result, you are making things happen in life for yourself and others.

Instead of waiting in uncertainty for things to happen, you act knowing for certain that things will happen.



A fun time or a boring time depends on whether you want to be the driver or the passenger.

Are you going to allow someone else to drive you around hoping it’s what you want.

Or are you going to take the steering wheel and take everyone for the ride of their life.

A boring time is something that you let happen to you, while a fun time is something that you must make happen for you and/or others.

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