My 2013 in Photographs

Wow! This year was a good’un! In brief, my wife and I finally made our escape from China, moved to Vietnam, she got a job at Gymboree doing what she loves and within a five-month period received three raises and a promotion, I finally stopped relying on teaching as my main income source and joined the staff at Oi Vietnam magazine as photographer. We finished off the year with a trip home to Aus. It was a year full of ups and downs, but overall the ups were more significant, and the downs taught us a lot, making us stronger and wiser.

Anyway, here’s the last year in visual form:

I started the year watching the New Years’ Fireworks in Sydney on what has become our annual holiday to spend Christmas and new years’ in Australia.


After spending a relaxing day on the UNSW campus – my old uni…


…we flew back to China and I almost immediately jumped on a plane to attend training in Shanghai for a new teaching job I’d secured (teaching Foundation Year English for Monash College – a Monash University-affiliated program being run for the first time in China).


On returning to Guangzhou, I got to work, but ridiculous levels of pollution and the continued frustration with a heap of incompatibilities with Chinese culture and values reached the point that both my wife and I could not handle the country any more. So we started planning to move to Vietnam while we figured out the next step.

In the meantime, I was sure to make one last visit to Xiancun urban village, as I was sure there would be nothing left of it by the next time I visited China.


I was also sure to visit as many other alleyways and urban villages in Guangzhou while I had the chance. I knew I’d miss them!

Urban village labour

But soon enough, the time came to head to Vietnam.

After a 4-week TESOL course (unlike China, a recognised ESL teaching certificate is needed to work legally as an ESL teacher in Vietnam), my wife and I got to house hunting, and found ourselves a nice apartment with a 270-degree view of Saigon.


Life continued as it had in China, with both of us teaching, but feeling a lot less frustrated and breathing much fresher air.

One difference here was that my wife could spend more time doing things with her family, such as when my brother-in-law got married,

Bling - Vietnam-style

or when they decided to hang out on a relatives’ chocolate and porcupine farm during national day.



But of course I quickly got out and started exploring the city with my camera.

In the process I met some interesting people, including this guy and his rooster,

Vietnamese man holding his cock #2

and this woman who tried to convince me to adopt her son.


I found a dilapidated apartment complex that had become a squatter colony,


and saw some scenes that just have to be Vietnam.


I also visited a bunch of temples,

Ten Thousand Buddha Temple

Ten Thousand Buddha Temple

Dong Nai Temple 5

and attended the funeral of one of the nation’s most honoured military generals.



I got to see various interesting aspects of local tradition and culture in my wanderings.


But the really big break came when I was contacted by Oi, a Ho Chi Minh City-based English language lifestyle magazine. I was offered an internship (since I hadn’t worked for a magazine or paper before), which almost instantly changed to a position as staff photographer for the magazine.

In the November issue, I saw my first photos for the magazine published,


and by the December issue, I had been given the cover shot…


along with many photos throughout the issue.


Along with Oi Vietnam, I also joined Metro Solutions – a company loosely affiliated with the magazine which provides creatives (photographers, graphic designers etc) to companies for projects here in Vietnam. I shot a couple of cityscapes for their new media kit.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon

Saigon by Night

One thing led to another and I am currently organising cooperation with a local publisher. At first some of my photographs will be available for purchase at each of their five outlets in Saigon, and if all goes to plan, I will be working on some publications with them in the coming year.

To top off what was a great year, my wife and I once again returned to Australia to spend Christmas with my mother.


Apart from exploring the area around my hometown Inverell,


we also took the opportunity to visit Brisbane (where we most likely will move in about a year’s time) and the Gold Coast/Tweed Coast.





2013 was the best year I’ve ever had, and I am full of anticipation for 2014 which will surely be even better! Thanks to those of you who are sharing the journey with me through this blog, and I wish you all an equally brilliant new year!