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.

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

Peace

…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).

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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.

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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.

View

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.

Nam

Uncle

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.

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

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and saw some scenes that just have to be Vietnam.

Downtime

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.

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

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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,

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

Cover-Oi-December-2013-724x1024

along with many photos throughout the issue.

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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.

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Apart from exploring the area around my hometown Inverell,

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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.

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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!

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