Vietnam Photographer – Videographer Blog for Ehrin Macksey | Corporate | Editorial | Portraiture | Commercial | Photography and Videography in Vietnam and Southeast Asia

Posts tagged “Hanoi

Taxes for working as an American Expat Photographer


Hanoi Vietnam Photographer

I have been living and working abroad for over 8 years in both New Zealand and Vietnam. In this time I have gone back to visit my family in the Florida, but it was usually for Christmas and I never stayed longer than 3 weeks as everyone, including me had to get back to work and life.

During my time abroad I had asked other US expats what they did for taxes and if we had to file if we were working abroad. I got 2 answers from most people:

1) No we don’t need to file as we are working abroad.

2) I have no idea.

This was quite confusing to say the least so last year I contacted an accountant in the USA and started doing my own research on the whole tax question for American Expats. What I found made my heart sink and is a good lesson for other American expat freelance photographers who are abroad almost year round.

Here is a list of things I learned:

1) Yes you need to file taxes every year regardless if you worked or not or if you are working for a foreign employer. No ifs ands or buts.

2) If you are freelance and are not legally working for any company(work permit or legal employment) then you are considered a sole-proprietorship business. This totally sucks by the way for 100% freelance photographers.

3) If you have setup a legal business in another country, for example Vietnam, and that country is not part of the Double Tax Treaty you basically have to pay taxes in both countries. There are a good amount here but more than likely only 20% of the countries in the world(I didn’t count).

4) If you visit the USA more than 30 days in a single year then you are no longer exempt(or significantly reduce your deduction) for income tax for IRS Foreign Earned Income Exemption as you need to qualify for either the  Bona Fide Residence Test or Physical Presence Test which most of the time requires that you have not been in the USA for more than 30 days. Please keep in mind income tax is different from Social Security & Medicare which is not included in the Foreign Earned Income Exemption.

4) As a sole-proprietorship business (freelance photographer) even if you don’t have to pay income tax you still will probably have to pay for Social Security & Medicare unless the country you are living and working in has a shared Social Security & Medicare treaty or also called Totalization Agreements. There are not that many countries who are part of this agreement so you will probably need to pay this.

5) Social Security & Medicare is 15% of your Net income. So even if you don’t have to pay income tax you still will need to pay 15% for SS and Medicare unless you have no income because you bought more equipment than your income. If you did this then you got bigger problems.

6) Keep receipts for everything you spend on your photography business. I MEAN EVERYTHING. Since last year I started keeping receipts like a I have a compulsive hoarding condition. I recommend you do the same and also write on the top of your receipts what it refers too. Only thing you can’t write off is food or at least I haven’t figured it out yet.

7) If you have over $10,000 USD or equivalent money in a foreign bank you need to declare this to the US Treasury. Keywords here are “in a bank.”

Thank god I got a minor in business in University so I understood a little bit about tax law and could read through the mind numbing IRS material and understand it for the most part. After I had self educated myself I basically went to a bar and got drunk thinking about how much I would need to pay the IRS.

A little history about myself so that you can follow the rest of my story. When I went to New Zealand after University I was not a photographer and I was not freelance or working for myself. I was traveling around in a campervan and worked as a bartender or on a farm to make a little more money to keep traveling. Since I was working legally in New Zealand and working for legal businesses in NZ this saved me big time.

Back in #2 I stated that if you were truly a freelance photographer(self employed) then your basically a business in itself in the eyes of the IRS. Well it turns out that if you are working legally for a business in another country(legally employed) with no ties to the USA you don’t owe anything. Not Income tax(as long as you qualify for the FEI tests) and not Social Security and Medicare. Thank the gods there was at least some kind of break. You can read more about this in IRS Publication 54 or can be simply read here on the IRS website: Persons Employed by a Foreign Employer.

So this is one way to save you from the IRS tax man and also confirms why most American expats working for a foreign employer abroad don’t have to pay any kind of tax in the USA.

I would also like to state that my first accountant didn’t know a thing about expat tax and was quite frustrating to work with. Even though I sited IRS documents and tax law reference numbers backing up my case, he still felt that I should be paying Social Security & Medicare as he considered me as self employed even though I was legally working for a foreign employer.

I basically had to fire him and I learned another lesson, not all accountants or lawyers understand or can understand the complexities of Expat Tax Law. They are just not used to it as it is kind of special considering there are not a lot of expat Americans working for themselves. Not that I’m an expert in this either but I check my facts and contacted other accountants who are more specialized in this field and they confirmed I was correct. The accounting company I now deal with for all my tax filing is Tax Planner CPA. They have possibly the worst designed website which is utterly cheesy, but it has tons of information on it and once you start talking to them they have excellent service and communication. They also charge a fair price for supplying a Tax Lawyer for consultation as well as their really good CPAs and guarantee that you won’t have any problems. The old accountant from before was charging me twice what Tax Planner CPA charges and for inexperienced advise.

For me as a freelance American photographer in Vietnam this USA tax law is quite frustrating. I have other photographer friends living and working abroad from France, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand ect. and none of them need to pay taxes(income tax or social security programs) as long as they don’t live in their respective country for 3-6 months. 3-6 months!!!!! I have no idea why America is only 30 days but my goodness it seems short.

To me it seems America has some of the worst expat tax laws for their citizens. This is not just for us freelancers but it applies for anyone who wants to start a business abroad whether that be a bar, travel agency or any business where they are the sole owner of the business. It is almost like USA Gov doesn’t want Americans to be go out in the world and become world citizens or business owners in other economies. I doubt China does this.

In my opinion it would be more fair to give expat Americans 3 months to visit the USA to qualify for the Foreign Earned Income as well as being able to opt-out for Social Security & Medicare if you do qualify as living outside of the USA for 9 Months out of the year. Of course if you opt-out then you would not receive this benefit later. Keep in mind though as an expat you may not be able to utilize the benefit abroad anyways so you are basically paying into a system you can never use.

Now a final note to keep things clear. I love the USA and I’m proud to be an American. I am not advocating that I don’t want to pay taxes, of course who does, but I am stating that the taxes should be fair and with current USA tax laws I don’t think they are. I do pay income tax in Vietnam and I have a Vietnamese tax ID number. Every year I get a statement from the good old VN Gov showing how much in taxes I paid and it is a decent figure. The problem then is I also need to pay taxes in the USA which at the minimum is 15%(SS + Med). Depending on how good my year has been I can pay anywhere between 25-35% in tax in total for both countries. Ouch!!!

I wish all of us American Expat photographers got together with ASMP and the NPPA and hired some lobbyists to help modify these laws to make them more reasonable. Maybe if this blog post goes viral this will happen but I’m not going to hold my breath.

If anything I hope that American Expats photographers can use my lessons learned to help them figure out what they need to do for their taxes.

I will be posting some more photography business lessons in the future so keep tuned if you care to hear me ramble more.

i + Vietnam Photography

Vietnam Photographer Ehrin Macksey

Vietnam Photographer Ehrin Macksey

Ah little square boxes how I love thy. These days it seems that everyone does too and I’m not setting any trends by doing it as well, but one day it got me thinking.

In the middle of this year I started to take daily images about my life and environment in Vietnam. This should not be a shock for most people but, after being based here for over 6 years, I have been finding myself slightly numb to some of the amazing daily things I see here. So I decided something needed to change and I needed a little daily project to spark some new life into the relationship I have with this country. Basically it is me and not you Vietnam.

It is simple really, when driving around Hanoi or other places in the country and I see something interesting instead of my thinking, “oh that is a good photo wish I had my camera with me” or “I wish I had wasn’t in a rush to be at ……” I stop and whip out the trusty phone. I know I should have my camera with me at all times but surprisingly I don’t carry all 5kg of camera with me when I go to the supermarket, a meeting or for a bicycle ride. The camera I do have available everywhere I go is my iPhone and thus it is what I use most times. There have been times I really wished for a better quality images but for me this is just part of a habit for me to slow down, see more and to take images freely of what I see. Since I have started this project it has revitalized my curiosity for this country once again. Experimenting and keeping things fresh is what is all about with all relationships and photography is no different.

Of course all of these images are posted on Instagram(Ehrin_Macksey) in case you want to follow me.

Vietnam Wedding Photographer and Videographer


Hoi An Wedding Photographer

In about the middle of last year I started to get a lot of inquires about doing some wedding photography in Vietnam. I have always wanted to shoot weddings as, to me, it is a documentary photography paradise, filled with ample supplies of emotion, passion, light and of course great moments all waiting to be captured. This is a great experience to document and now I love shooting weddings! I was lucky enough to get some wedding work in Hanoi, Vietnam and Hoi An, Vietnam at the end of last year and have a couple more already for 2012. As to organize my images I have finally put together a small business, MWeddings, and a dedicated website where my portfolio of images and videos can be seen. I hope that people looking for a wedding photographer in Vietnam or Southeast Asia can find me easier and can see my work.


Thanks for checking it out and hopefully I will see you at your wedding.

Vietnam Wedding Photographer and Videographer

Vietnamese TV show Trailer and Program Identity

Screen Shot 2012-02-06 at 12.59.54 PM


Back in November I was contracted to develop the creative idea, direct, shoot and edit a Trailer and a Program Identity for a Vietnamese TV show about the everyday little things we can do to make life, the environment, pollution ect better.

It took me 1 day for shooting and 1 day of editing after I had an idea on what I wanted to do. Nothing fancy, clean, simple and to the point.

I headed out to get daily life scenes of Hanoi which was done with a mix of timelapse and regular footage. I wanted to show that even though we are all busy and hustling around the city it only takes one moment to make where we live that much better, which is basically what the TV program is about.

Everyone was happy with the results and the Trailer and Program Identity started playing on National TV back in December.


Program Identity


Calm after the storm

Vietnam Portait Photographer

Every year at the end of January or beginning of February, Vietnam is in a chaotic flurry of buying, preparing and tidying up in anticipation of Tet. I hate this time of year and so do most other Expats as the traffic and general feeling of the city is all too stressful.

Yes more than normal.

What I do like is the calm and tranquility that replaces the chaos that was just one week before. This is the first morning of Tet. If you are ever lucky enough to experience it, it would be to experience Hanoi, Vietnam in its true Zen like or Valium induced state. The streets are empty except for the odd straggler here and there. You can hear birds clearly while walking down some of the larger streets in the city like Dai Co Viet. People are in a joyous and festive mood and will let you take photos of them with no problem (big deal for me as the ratio of asking is usually 1/3). All in all, it is really amazing and a joy to experience.

Since most photographers love to take photos or get assignments of the leading up of Tet, I thought why not show the actual first day of Tet and how calm it is and what remained after the chaos has subsided. So I set out at 6 AM and anyone I saw on the street I took a portrait of them. Got to say after 3 hours there were not so many portraits as it was really that quiet.

My first intention was to do this purely with images, but as my time on the street progressed I wanted to capture the sounds I experienced in the hope of helping place you, the audience, next to me in my morning journey. Sorry the sound is not better all I had was my iPhone, but I think it can still put you in the setting

I hope everyone has a great new year. May the year of the dragon bring you luck.


3 – 5 min max!!

Tube Mogul Research

Tube Mogul Research

These days I do my fair share of videography / multimedia / photo film or whatever you want to call it. Probably more than the average photographer and I love all the creative options it offers in being able to tell a story .

That being said, if you do start to get into this type of work you will probably run into lots more paperwork, budgets, scripts, 20 page proposals and complicated production schedules than your average photography job. Another thing I also find, is that most of my clients think they get more value for their money if they have a longer film. i.e. 10 min or 30 min.

The problem with that idea is that most of my clients don’t show their video in a movie theater or on TV, it is shown via the web with all the distractions of email, Twitter and Facebook to steal their audience away from their video. Clients love the web because it is an extremely cost effective way to publish their video to the public and it has added benefits that TV can never have like viral dissemination to help spread their message to more people than they could reach by themselves.

Most clients think that everyone will of course want to watch their video because they are amazing and if they don’t, it’s because you didn’t do a good job.

Well …… sort of.

Most of us that are hired for this type of work know how to make something that isn’t total crap, which is why they hired us to start. Where you failed in doing your job was not in the content that you created but that you didn’t convince the client to change the length of the video to something more watchable online. So as you can see this is pretty dam important. If you don’t convince your client to change their epic film ideas to something more realistic and effective they might think you did a crap job even though you didn’t.

So how do you convince your client to change their 15 min epic corporate video to a 3-5 min video?

  1. Ask them when they last watched a video in full online? What kind of video was it? How long was it? If it was a corporate film or NGO film that is more than 5 min put it on in the office and wait to see how long it takes for someone to start talking. Most of the time I find people start talking in 2-3 min. AMAZING!! You prove your point right there.
  2. Next show them some independent marketing research to back up your professional opinion. This helps out a lot with skeptical clients.

Ok the first part is easy and may be enough to convince your client, but sometimes …. I know wait for it…. Clients are difficult. Shocker I know!!!

So now armed with some independent marketing research on online video length you can change their mind and earn some professional respect to boot. But wait! Where is this marketing research your telling me about??? Well it is below so stay with me.

Back in old 2008 a great photography professor at the University of San Francisco, Ken Kobre, found some companies that published their research about the length of time people will watch online videos. Now you won’t find this awesome research on his new site but thank god he didn’t delete his old blog and you can still see his informative blog post here:

Now I wouldn’t tell a client that “Ken Kobre says this and that,” even though he is my hero for publishing this great post. I would point them or give them a link to Tube Mogul. Tube Mogul is the company that did the research and they would be the authority

I also like the other research that Kobre found from another source but strangely enough their website doesn’t work anymore.

Finally, I have found some other peoples thoughts about this topic that is more current than 2008. Here are the quotes:

Jeff MisentiVP of Fox News Digital – “the drop-off (watching vid online) after 90 sec is pretty severe.”

Joel Schwartzberg, – A director at PBS digital – “[he] cites attention span of 3 minutes for video.”

Anyways, I hope this helps you out on your next web video project. If you have any comments, strategies or other research you use to convince your clients to change the length of their video, please share them below in the comments.




The Process: Setting Out

Portrait Photograph of a Hanoi Ship Captain

So from my previous blog post so keenly entitled “The Process” I went out do some more research around Hanoi on my idea as well as contacted some people who could help facilitate in my getting access to the topic I am working.

I went to the Red River to talk to some people there and ran into a really nice boat captain. Even though he didn’t really know where I could find stuff related to my topic he did his best in explaining some places he thought I might be interested in going.

I first came across him as he was sitting on his barge checking himself out in the mirror. I proceeded to go over to him and after a chat he allowed me to take his portrait. One of the great things working on a new project is all the people you meet on the way. Some good, some bad but the adventure and experiences in the process are one of the many gifts a new project brings.

Portrait Photograph of a Hanoi Ship Captain

The Process



I have an idea…. and that is it. So to start to understand how I am going to approach it I am beginning my process. Of course, like all creative people I want the result of my work to be great and to communicate my idea to other people. My process is to go out, experience, shoot, analyze, write down new ideas and approaches and then go out again and shoot. I will try to get access to places, meet new people and slowly let this idea mold itself into something more concrete.

I will be posting images here as I go through my exercises. For the mean time this will be filed under, “The Process”


Possessed by Gods – Work in Progress

Possessed_by_Gods_EM (25 of 27)

Been busy busy busy working on a commercial for the last 2 months and it is finally finishing that up.

I had some time the other day to go do some research into a new project which right now i’m titling, “Possessed by Gods”. I still need to do some more research on other direction I want to take it, but here are some pics from yesterday. More updates soon.

3 hours of Hanoi’s 1000 Years

Thursday morning my wife Trang told me that the streets near our house and the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum would be closed for the practice of Sunday’s parade.

I thought it might be a good time to go out see what they are doing and take some snaps. I left my house at 3:00 and shot until 6:00, which was a great way to spend the afternoon.

Girls dressed up in Ao Dai, event workers shifting out propaganda posters and military personal dotted the area around the mausoleum. People visiting from the countryside came to see what their capital had prepared for them on Sunday’s anniversary. Vietnamese people are at heart very kind and easy going people. I really had a great time walking, talking to them, having my photo taken with them and of course taking snap here and there. The only thing that was a little bothersome was all the police being rude and forcing people from watching the preparation of the parade from the street.

To me it is sad, because most Vietnamese are proud of Hanoi and want to celebrate the 1000 year anniversary. Only authorities and VIPs were allowed to see the parade in person leaving the rest of the population to watch on government TV with advertising.

Besides all that, it was nice to meet friendly strangers who were more than willing to let me take some photos of them. I couldn’t ask for any more than that for a Thursday afternoon.

Backpackers & Yogurt

As of lately I have been feel that my photography work is not progressing as fast as i would like it to. I asked my agent/buddy Francois at Noi Pictures to get me some local editorial assignments which will force me to go out and shoot things i’m not used to shooting.

As most photographers know, local or regional magazines pay…. how do I say it in a nice way…. way way way below standard editorial day rates. This is why in the past I stayed away from them. Now though i am happy i changed my mind. They are fun assignments where i get to meet some interesting locals and shoot some stuff i normally wouldn’t get a chance to shoot.

All in all, it is good practice when i have free time and it’s fun to meet some different locals.

I had two stories this week. One on Kinh Do Cafe which makes all their own deserts and yogurt from scratch. The owner was a super nice old guy and the fresh yogurt with honey and fruit is amazing. I really enjoyed talking to him and taking his portrait, eating the free cake he made me eat (i didn’t want to be rude) and shooting the shit with Ian the writer.

The other story I was assigned was about backpacker fashion. I took some portraits of Tiffini, the owner of The Drift Backpackers Hostel who sells those crazy baggy backpacker pants in Hanoi. If they were gold they would totally be MC Hammer pants.

Since the the article was supposed to be about backpacker fashion I took to the streets and did some fun portraits of backpackers and their fashion. I had a really good time with this and half way though my portraits I decided to do 1-2 second shutter releases while having my subjects standing in the middle of the road. I got some pretty nice results out of it due to the traffic driving around the subjects, but it was difficult to keep the subjects still for 1-2sec.

Unfortunately, I can’t show them here right now since most of the photos were chosen by the editor and I only have a few out takes.

So with out further boring you with my writing here some out takes from those two assignments. Thanks for looking.

Painting with light

Commercial photography Vietnam

150 Layer Light Painting

For over a 2 years i have been lucky enough to befriend a really great guy and talented photographer, Boris Zuliani. He used to live on Truc Bach lake and we would have beers in the evening with other photo buddies talking about our love of photography and film (or until our wives or girlfriends called). Boris’s true love and art in photography is light painting. He uses it with great skill and passion in his personal work and for some commercial work.

When I first saw his work I thought it was just beautiful. I loved how soft the light was and at the same time giving the exposure a different kind of contrast then that of a normal photograph.

As Boris and I talked over beers I started to think about making a video of light painting. I didn’t want to make a “tutorial” video showing the process of light painting, but more about the feeling light painting gives to the subject and showing the gradual exposure of a photograph out of darkness.

Then some time later……. I met a randy young lady named Gillian. Boris had done a couple of light painting portraits of her and she said that the experience was so different from any other portraits she had posed for in the past. She explained it to me, but this was some time ago and my brain has been punished by Hanoi’s cheap beer so i don’t remember word for word. Though, I do remember her saying how much she enjoyed it and that the experience was something special.

Then some more time passed…….. Boris called me up and pushed me to make the video. Then Gillian called me up and pushed me to do it as well.

Time to put my thinking cap on. I had to figure out a way to show a light painting photo slowly exposed in video format using the extra variable of time. Hmmmm…. then i figured it out (oh that engineering degree served me well).

I would use a very slow shutter speed and do a kind of time-lapse while Boris did his painting. Then i would layer the photos to be gradually exposed over time and make all the layers add the new exposure to the old one (yeah i’m a nerd for this stuff).

So me and my gun-hoe /semi intoxicated team went out one night by West Lake (Ho Tay for the natives) and shot this video in 40 min.

Post production took an incredible 24 hours of rendering in CS5 Premier Pro with my i7 core iMac (thing was burnin’ up!!!). I guess that is what you get when you have 150 layers in a video editor.

No grading, special effects or effect editors (After Effects or Motion) were used to make this (except for my logo). The video and photos were shot on a 5D Mark II and the video was all shot hand held at 50mm.

Now making sure that the subject was fully exposed is tricky because when we did the light painting in this way you can’t see what you have exposed, which is why some of Gillian’s leg is not exposed. Also you have to remember that each exposure adds to the next exposure so i also had to be careful not to make my image too bright or too dark other wise the final image would be over or under exposed.  I think the exposure was perfect for the layering, we just missed a part of the leg. I’m putting blame squarely on the intoxicated aspect of the project.

All and all, I am happy I was able to do this and thanks to my buddies for helping do so. It was something fun, different and somewhat challenging.

It could be interesting to make a clothing designer commercial like this. If your keen for that please drop me a line.

And now the final video. Thanks for watching.

Light Painter: Boris Zuliani

Model: Gillian Sturtevant

Photography & Video: Ehrin Macksey

Music: NiN

Tired and orange – Hanoi flower market during Tet

While this is my 4th Tet in Hanoi, I still enjoy going out to the night flower market just before the New Year. It is usually full of life and action, but this year it had a very different feeling. It was very dark and dirty and the flower sellers all looked very tired. Some of them said that it was a bad year to sell flowers as Hanoi had a hot flash for about 2 weeks before Tet which made most of the flowers bloom prematurely. For a flower seller in Hanoi, this is very bad as their Hanoian customers want their flowers to open up on the first day of Tet as it is considered an omen of good luck for the year. I feel bad for all the flower sellers, when their fight is strong they can haggle you to death, they just didn’t have that spirit in them this year. I missed it.

Keep your chin up all you flower sellers out there, next year will be here before you know it and with a little good luck the weather will be on your side.

Blue Dragon

Blue Dragon Film made by Ehrin Macksey- Hanoi, Vietnam

About a month ago i met cool and friendly Ruth Mortimer who works for Blue Dragon. Blue Dragon is an local Hanoi organization that gives underprivileged kids a better chance at life. Ruth asked me if i wouldn’t mind donating some time to the organization and make a short video for them. I was happy to help.

I had one day of filming as i am in the middle of another project. This made all the shooting very fast. Ruth did a great job helping me organize the kids and getting the interviews done quickly.

The video is a thank you video to World Vision for their generous support.

So here it is, hope you enjoy it.

Responsiblity and Guilt

What is a photographer’s responsibility to the subject after the photography has finished? This has been stewing in my mind for sometime. I’m quite lazy about writing in my blog but I hope that I can get some feed back from others about this. Here are my thoughts.

I have done only a handful of stories, in each story there is a bond of trust between me and the person I’m photographing. We see each other everyday. They let me into their lives to document and then to show to other people. That is a lot of trust to give to someone with a camera and you don’t know.

It must be difficult for the subjects of photo stories after the photographer has finished the work. I wonder if they feel used or if they feel they are not important to the photographer anymore?

I mean really think about it. You make a new friend who cares about you and is interested in your life. This friend, with a camera, comes with you everywhere. They ask questions about everything your doing and why. This must make the subject feel pretty special.

Then, BAM!!!, after 2 weeks, this person with a camera says goodbye and you see them if your lucky one time a year.

This must be difficult for the subject. I wonder how they justify the photographer leaving them in their mind?

I do try to go see the people that have allowed me into their lives. When I do, they always say I don’t visit enough. I usually smile guiltily and say that I have been busy working but I have not forgotten them.

I wonder what some of the big photographers like James Nachtwey or Stephanie Sinclair think of this? Do they feel the same or do they just keep on moving and don’t look back?

As my life as a documentary photographer continues there will be more stories with more people. Then, there will be more people to visit to make sure they know I think they are important and that I appreciate them letting me into their lives. At some point it will become impossible to visit everyone. I hope they will understand.

So, should I feel guilty or not if i can’t find time to go visit the subject of a past project?

I’m trying to rationalize it. No conclusions as of yet.

PX3 Prix De La Photographie Paris Competition

I just got word today that I won some awards in this years PX3 competition.

I have to say that i’m really happy to get these and thank you to everyone who is supporting me and pushing me to do more and be better.

The Evolution Of Photography Is Here

I have been following the blog of Brent Foster for about a year now. He works similar to me, that being that he works in photography and film as well.

Lately, there has been a new breakthrough in DSLR technology. We can now do video with the same DSLR body and lenses we use for photography. For people like Brent and myself this is amazing!

Yesterday Canon announced that it will be updating it’s firmware for video on the 5D Mark II so that users can use manual control instead of the hindering automatic functions it now has. This new firmware will allow users to control the aperture, shutter speed and gain (ISO) and we hope that it offers 1080 24p as well.

This is a major breakthrough for people who are working in photography and film. I couldn’t be more excited to have these options available to me.

I have always been interested in multimedia photography ever since i was first introduced to in by my friend Justin in late 2006. I started reading blogs like Multimedia Shooter and studying classes from Mindy McAdams at the University of Florida.

For me, i think multimedia is not just the use of sound and photography. Sometimes i see people who add music to some images and they say they have made a multimedia.

I apologize to those people. I’m sure they worked very hard on what they did, but to me, it is not really giving justice to the tools available to them.

Multimedia is the use of photography, film and sound (interviews, ambient sound, music) so that they are all being harnessed to take advantage of the power each media form gives. This lets the viewer become closer to the story and understand more.

Photography Vs. Multimedia. One is not better than the other. They are just tools like in a construction workers tool belt. They each serves a different purpose.

We can now start see we have more demand from clients and newspapers to do video. There is new technology to do this from DSLR manufactures and we have this new way to present our stories and photography. So, my question to photographers is this:

Why are you waiting for?!

Other people are catching on and not just in the photojournalism area. You can see fashion photographers (Steven Klein, NYC & Esquire Magazine June Cover) starting to do both photography and film using The RED system and the 5D Mark II.

Almost every newspaper in America and Europe ask their photographers to do video as well as photography.

This is not a fad. This is the direction our industry is going. So come… on jump on…. it is only bumpy in the beginning.

Intel Chairman Of The Board

I had an assignment to go shoot Intel’s Chairman Of The Board, Craig Barrett, as he traveled around Hanoi.

Mr. Barrett really hates photographers which is what he told me in so many words. So it made the job interesting.

Kenzo Fashion Show

Here are some photos from a show i did a month ago. I really hate shooting fashion shows in Vietnam as the event organizers set up the lights like crazy people, well at least for photographers.

NPPA: Best in Photojournalism


I got an Honorable mention for my documentary video “Bop” at NPPA’s contest The Best Of Photojournalism 2009. The contest is designed by photojournalists for photojournalists.

Now in its eighth year, the Best of Photojournalism (BOP) is the world’s leading digital photojournalism contest. BOP is a project of the National Press Photographers Association.

Considering the list of other award winners, MediaStorm, MSNBC, Washington Post, The Las Vegas Sun and the Mercury News I feel very honored to be placed with them.

You can see the awards page here:

Thank you to everyone who helped me make this film.


Kelly Bui – Spring Collection

Here are some shots from a recent assignment for a Vietnam fashion designer Kelly Bui.

Tungsten Lights

I love going out at night in Vietnam. Especially in the evening to the parks. Everywhere you look is full of life. Teenage dancers practicing, the elderly drinking tea and playing chess, footballers showing off their skills, skateboarders gliding by and lovers holding each other. This scene was not as common as when i first came here. You of course would see many many people doing traditional things like drinking tea, exercising and playing chess, but skateboarders and dancers were not so common.

In a park, it seems like the glow of the tungsten lights lets people relax and enter into this sanctuary of freedom to do whatever they like. In Hanoi it is a special place.

Fashion – Vietnam

I went to a fashion show a couple of weeks back. I was asked by a friend of mine to go and shoot some of the clothes and models. After talking some more about fashion with some of the Vietnamese designers i was interested in their lives and work. I may pursue a story at later this year in order to shed some light on this thriving and competitive world where looks and attitudes rein supreme.

Vewd Documentary Magazine

My multimedia piece about leprosy villages in Vietnam and a story about one resident is published on the Vewd documentary photojournalism magazine.