Hello everyone, this is the first time I’ve done this, which is a super long chronological photo blog about the year 2019. I didn’t want to call it “Best of…” because most of the images that I picked weren’t the typical moody/artistic/semi-pretentious modeling portraits! 😉 No, I chose the ones that were a bit off, the ones that seemed more real and honest. The clicks that came before the main posed ones which could eventually become someone’s profile pic (of which I’m always honored!).
I started browsing my hard drive in hopes of picking just the “5 star” photos that would have been cover images on a different day/mood, but no, it just felt right to choose mostly the fun images of the great people that I was lucky enough to have spent last year with.
Food, Fun, Family, and (F)Photos is what we always say.
I hope everyone enjoys or gets something out of these 504 “B side” images that I chose to tell the story of 2019. Life is truly short and in all the confusion and stress we all really need to focus on the simple things that give us hope and joy. This isn’t mostly my story, it’s of all of us in this crazy shared experience called life. As always thanks to everyone for being in my photos, and in turn, also taking some photos of me!
01.04.2019 – Early 2019 started off with a rainbow. It was brief and wasn’t too spectacular, but I happened to be outside after a slight rain shower.
01.05.2019 – This year’s Hyatt Awards Banquet had some really good desserts!
01.06.2019 – Lao cuisine from one of the local restaurants.
01.17.2019 – I covered an event at Fernbank with President Jimmy Carter.
01.19.2019 – Great food at Rain Thai and Sushi off Cheshire Bridge in Atlanta.
The rain didn’t deter us from going to Piedmont for some quick photos.
01.20.2019 – Trying out the EOS R at the photo show in Atlanta.
02.01.2019 – The Superbowl was held in Atlanta this year, so we went to see the downtown festivities.
We ran into family at Sri Thai for an early dinner.
02.03.2019 – Vietnamese American Community of Georgia New Year and Pageant.
Thanks Sam for really liking this photo of your talented daughter!
02.08.2019 – Winter was pretty short down here in Georgia, and these trees appeared first. I know it’s silly, but I often drive around keeping tabs on what is in bloom during early spring. These purple trees usually bloom when it’s still cold.
02.13.2019 – Fun photo shoot with these pretty ladies. The sun still sets pretty early this time of the year.
02.15.2019 – The purple trees last a good 2- 3 weeks at most, and I try to bug whoever is free. 😉
As you can kinda see, one of my favorite sweaters has a hole in the left armpit. Towards the end of the year it continued to grow. Guess it’s time to finally throw it out.
02.17.2019 – This was just a quick shoot after lunch.
02.18.2019 – McDaniel Farm was starting to show color pretty early. The bulk of the trees still have bare branches, but I really like cataloging what is in bloom at different times of the year.
02.22.2019 – Lao Food at Pho Lanxang!
02.24.2019 – Again, I’m just posting the shots that didn’t quite make it. In looking back through my archive, there’s something about these that make it a fun memory.
I always tell people, my photo shoots are simply what happens before we go eat somewhere! If you love naan and curry, then we can be friends for life.
02.27.2019 – I only made it to one figure drawing event this past year. This particular meetup group focuses too much on short poses in my opinion though. Hopefully I can find time (and extra money) to be able to get back in artistic shape.
02.28.2019 – Seeing as how I didn’t have enough cameras, I added a Canon EOS RP to the fleet. Thanks to everyone for following along this year, and giving my posts about the camera thousands of views.
03.01.2019 – The Kung Fu Tea near us finally opened, and the line was out the door. Mango Green Tea with Nata Jelly is my fave go to.
03.02.2019 – If you are a Bank of America customer, every first weekend in Atlanta, you get free admission to places like the High Museum of Art and the Atlanta History Center and Swan House. This white tree is amazing.
If you bring a model or lots of gear, there’s a good chance you will be kicked out though. 🙁
03.02.2019 – LACSGA Fundraising Gala in Duluth
This peculiar smelling tree in my front yard is another good marker for spring. It works with the white blossoms in March, and turns nice and orange in the Fall.
Smoothies are definitely healthier than our Asian addiction Bubble Tea. This combo is pretty good: Cali Chicken Club and Island Green (Mango, Kale, Bananas, etc.)
03.06.2019 – Another year covering the Universoul Circus in Atlanta. Since Ga State bought the old Turner Field and the parking lot that they turned into housing, the circus moved across the street.
Even though the acts pretty much follow the same lineup, this is still something really challenging that I never get tired of shooting. The lighting and slight dynamics of each show is one of the hardest things on gear and creativity I’ve found.
These acrobats are from Mongolia. And I thought only Lao/Thai people had some complicated names!
03.09.2019 – Ah to be young and going to prom. It was really cold this day.
03.10.2019 – Luckily the circus had a stint right up the road in our county. They were kind enough to give me group tickets again. Of course I used the opportunity to use my friends/family as models. 🙂
I found out someone doesn’t like contortionists. 😀
One of my favorite shots. I believe this is when the motorcycle daredevils come flying out of nowhere.
Lunch afterwards was at Tofu House, a place we’ve been eating at for 14+ years now.
My fave “assistant!” 🙂
03.17.2019 – These trees at the park really shine with a circular polarizer.
So this is the time the real cherry blossoms come out. I wish the city hadn’t cut down the ones right at the entrance to me. Nothing was easier than strolling up the road for some sakura photos.
I got lucky as these were in full bloom at the same time. I always tell everyone the window for taking photos with these trees is pretty slim. Luckily in Georgia, the weather during cherry blossom blooms is pretty nice, unlike the cold weather during D.C.’s festival.
03.31.2019 – This time of year the azaleas come out in full bloom in a multitude of amazing colors.
This is the best timing I’ve ever had with these azalea blooms.
This shoot was later in the day with these “twins.” 🙂
04.07.2019 – Post celebration of a friend’s big 5-0 at Rain Thai and Sushi.
This place smells like Durian on the inside!
04.13.2019 – So I bought a Halloween fog machine and used it in conjunction with my Arri fresnel lights. It definitely has a theater and stage feel.
So glad there wasn’t a cold snap, as this huge wall of azaleas was still around a week after the first shoot.
This time of year the trees that look like carnations pour down petals. So pretty.
04.14.2019 – Instead of going to Lao New Year events I decided to visit the Khmer temple, which I hadn’t been to in ages. The rain this weekend was crazy. We sat in the car for a few hours until it cleared up.
The wind was crazy as well, but the sun did manage to come out.
I really like this underexposed shot due to the silhouette of the Cambodian dancer.
Remember all that rain I spoke of? The tent that I was sitting near in front of the stage had collected a huge pool of water. A big gust of wind came by and soaked me and my gear. I guess I got my blessings for the year.
Conyers has some interesting places to explore. It’s one of the few places that has big open fields.
On the long drive from Conyers to Atlanta, the rain started to pour down again. We were eating at Rain Thai and Sushi again waiting out the storm. Here’s another rainbow, this time behind a Publix (which has amazing subs, well worth the price!).
This was the same weekend as the Atlanta Dogwood festival. After dinner we went to take pictures at Piedmont. I imagine the poor vendors fighting the crazy wind and rain must have been awful. I think there were only 8 of us in the entire park. As I’ve learned from living in Georgia almost all my life, the best sunsets are normally after a storm has passed.
04.21.2019 – Dropping by the temple on Easter for pageant practice and to say hello to my “models!” 🙂
The temple had a cookout and kid’s Easter egg hunt. We Lao people will pretty much borrow any and all celebrations. Frisbee is still something I could do all day, every day. It really helps with hand eye coordination that also affects photography and other creative arts.
This hungry stray kitty came into the warehouse for treats and some attention.
05.04.2019 – The Lao New Year Pageant was fun. I was pleased that the bounce flash was working quite well. The lighting in the warehouse is bad, and having supplement lighting was good for the vibrant Lao sinh. Good job to all the young folk for preserving our culture (even if so much of it doesn’t make sense, even to me!).
05.07.2019 – We drove down to Orlando to visit some family friends who used to live here in Georgia, and squeeze in some Senior Portraits. It was my pleasure to take photos for talented little miss e toui. 😉
In downtown Sanford this really nice kitty came to say hello. I need to keep animal snacks in my bag.
I wanted to squeeze in another location, but due to timing and traffic we couldn’t make it to New Smyrna beach. It wasn’t that big of a deal, the photo area in Sanford is still very nice, with a wide open view of the setting sun. Portrait photography is definitely more about empathy than knowing gear and lenses. Her expression on the other frames I shot say a lot and echo into the future as well.
Seems like it rains a lot, but we did need it in 2019.
This restaurant near Pinewood Studios was really good! One of the soups you could pick was this tomato soup. It doesn’t sound like much, but trust me, it was good enough to put on pasta, and had more in common with chicken tikka masala!!
05.14.2019 – The mess of flowers in my front yard this year were not very good due to the heat. 2015 was really nice, glad I took pictures of it back then.
05.19.2019 – This is Mr. Java. He’s nice to some, and very mean to others. He definitely didn’t like this statue in Pensacola, FL. Silly dog.
My good friend who passed away a few years ago would always tell me, “…a dog riding in a car and hanging out the window is experiencing a joy man will never know.” Truth and wisdom in those words.
I really like the color palette of this beach shot. Would it have been “better” on film, I don’t know.
The beach sand was super hot but he still enjoyed sniffing around and exploring. Truly wondrous beings doggies are.
05.22.2019 – After all these years and trying out different chow chow mixes, this one from Spartanburg S.C. (thanks Sam!) is still the BEST for mixing into my turkey burgers. Just a great blend of mild heat and sweetness. Combined with Trader Joe’s Sriracha Garlic BBQ sauce is my type of burgers.
I retouched up my weathered picnic table. The Sherwin Williams paint really does the job nicely.
05.25.2019 – Just a random day at the park and came across this fancy fellow! Amazing.
05.28.2019 – Just backyard grilling out with a friend.
06.01.2019 – Another weekend in Pensacola.
06.14.2019 – While waiting for our table at Pig Tales by the Lake, we met this amazing spry fellow that loved catching tennis balls.
06.15.2019 – We went back to Orlando for Little Miss E Toui’s graduation party. I’ve gotten plenty of use out of these ever blooming bougainvilleas.
06.22.2019 – More backyard grilling with a friend. Steak, cameras with vintage lenses and good conversation is not a bad way at all to spend a Saturday or Sunday. We used to get so caught up in football games, but you have to put your happiness in little things that you can control.
06.23.2019 – So in June it starts to get pretty hot in Georgia. Back in 2006 we used to go to the sunflower farm way out in the country, but I think it never came back due to the lack of crop rotation. There are closer ones that really capitalized on the photo and social media craze of today.
Oh Threepio, if only you knew how The Rise of Skywalker ended… In case you’re wondering, I really liked the movie (didn’t think I was going to walking in) but it also doesn’t excuse it from being a total rushed mess.
06.24.2019 – I was sitting at the computer editing photos as usual and the storm starts to clear out right before sunset. Seeing this crazy light from my chair, I immediately hopped in the car and rode down to the QT and cinematic Bojangles!
06.25.2019 – Mango Fanta seems to be somewhat of a rare pokemon. It can be found at the Korean Assi but folks usually buy it all up. I’ll forever be a fan of Orange Fanta, but this mango is pretty good as well!
Rare instance of the BTS shot matching exactly the same frame I shot.
06.28.2019 – Can’t believe my cousin’s S2000 is 20 years old now. Still holds up today, and will continue to be so, like the alpha NSX. Honda, what have you become?
07.01.2019 – First time trying The Impossible Vegan Burger. I liked it (but then again, I like almost all food).
07.02.2019 – Dusted off the infrared Sigma Cameras and drove around town. With the heat and lush vegetation, almost everywhere looks neat in IR.
07.06.2019 – I lost my original Digital Harinezumi in a rain storm like 10 years ago. The used prices are a bit crazy. I had to order this one from Japan. The video quality is still as artistic bad/good as I remember.
07.10.2019 – Supposedly this is the highest point in Gwinnett County, a hill in Little Mulberry park. The heat was outrageous so I didn’t make the trek across the bug infested pasture. I think it will be a cool close spot for sunsets in the future though.
This is Mr. Yoshi.
2019 brought about the closing of not one, but two Ingles Markets close to me. This place was my go to for cheap “American” food. I would normally get two meals, one for lunch and one later (second lunch), for a mere $10.60. Imagine the amount of time, supplies, and effort it would take for you to make: oven baked chicken, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, cornbread, and blueberry cobbler. Luckily there is still one in Dacula (I think).
07.12.2019 – Again, flattered when anyone uses my photos for their profile pic, even for a wee bit. In this day of social media, I provide social currency with my pictures. If only folks would do a better job at crediting me…sigh…
So this particular day, this young lady was in tears because her dog ran away back home. This photo is the moment her sister calls her to tell her it was found! Which was good because listening to the Spongebob Gary song nonstop would probably drive anyone mad.
07.19.2019 – Trying out the empanada place.
07.20.2019 – Right before a friend’s wedding was this one. I kept my distance but couldn’t help but snipe a photo of this vibrant culture’s attire.
I was a sneaky guest and still brought my gear to this wedding. Crazy to have pictures from our Sunday dinners way back in 2005, and bookend it with a wedding leading up to a new chapter in life.
Me and this guy would often drive from Suwanee to Riverdale just to get some of that Lao Pho behind the Chick-Fil-A!
07.22.2019 – Homestyle fancy noodles and pumpkin nam van (Lao dessert)
07.26.2019 – This Target at Atlantic Station might be the most photogenic in the southeast.
07.31.2019 – Ran into these people going to get their fix at KFT. 😉
Someone left a teddy bear at McDaniel Farm, so we borrowed it for a short post dinner photo shoot.
08.01.2019 – It rained hard yet again, making our outing at the Balloon Glow less than ideal. But dinner and dessert was always good.
08.09.2019 – Another weekend in Pensacola. The sunsets down here really are something else, and last almost an hour it seems like.
08.10.2019 – This trip wasn’t all for fun though, as a friend’s mother’s final wish was to have her ashes scattered into the ocean, near the place where she first arrived in America, Pensacola, FL. Crazy how our lives and paths intersect.
08.11.2019 – Like me, my little model got up before the sun and had a good jellyfishing adventure on the beach.
08.24.2019 – So my niece, the first grandchild in the family, was also the first to get married. It was a lovely experience on both days, with just the right amount of people. I remember back in the day babysitting and booting up the Sailor Moon game on the Dreamcast.
08.25.2019 – Nice Lunch at Rain and outing at Oakland Cemetery
08.30.2019 – Dragon Con! I went for 3 days this year, finally!
09.07.2019 – Dragon Boat Festival
09.14.2019 – Yet another great weekend in Pensacola
09.15.2019 – This sunrise was one of the most amazing thus far.
09.27.2019 – Migration of my 150,000+ photos to 3 iPads!
10.12.2019 – TEA Walk
10.27.2019 – Day of the Dead
10.31.2019 – Fall was really late in Georgia this year. It was definitely not as colorful and vibrant as last year. Who knows what the weather will be like going into the future.
So this is where I lost one of my cameras…
11.24.2019 – The color around Stone Mountain was probably peak a few days earlier, because the rain once again knocks them all down.
11.28.2019 – Thanksgiving, and Welcoming Miss Universe Laos to America!
12.05.2019 – A chilly weekend at the beach
12.19.2019 – ❤️
12.29.2019 – Thank you for reading this far. What a crazy creature we humans are. Capable of experiencing such an extreme range of emotions, from the delight in eating good food, to the grief of not being connected anymore. Seems like the last week of 2019 had it all.
Of course there are more really emotional and personal photos from this year, but again, I thought, why not for this recap, just show the happy and fun moments. With just a sprinkling of the reminders that we are all frail humans that really need each other.
As I go into this new year, once again unsure of what career path to take (or even what company would have me?), part of me wonders why can’t this post be good enough as a resume? If only some employer would have enough time to sit and meditate on this year of personal memories. Photography isn’t the “highest” art I could be attempting to make with my time and talents, but I decided a while back that it might be the most valuable thing I can do for my friends and my community at the moment. Working on drawings or paintings in a room by yourself, creating work that no one sees was once a good personal path, but as I get older I’m seeing things differently. I still believe that art can be made through the art of living, of getting by in many ways, of just enjoying the times we have together and not forgetting good deeds from the friends we made along the way, and producing work that keeps those memories alive.