jetBlue AYCJ…

It’s been forever since I’ve blogged! I know, I’m sorry. I’ve been hard at work on the new site and blog and have decided that I’m going to use this domain for the new stuff. As far as all the stuff that’s already on here, I will have to archive all my old posts and start anew. I’ve been “saving” blog posts (if that even makes any sense) for the new site, thus the lack of blogging. I have an amazing designer working on my branding/logo and have been building a portfolio that I can’t wait to share with y’all!

The reason for me writing today is for me tap into my reader-base (I hope y’all are still out there since I haven’t updated in forever).

Life has granted me an opportunity to travel yet once again. I just came back from a two week trip to Hawaii where I shot a ton and ate a ton. We came away with some amazing shoots and were very fortunate to have met the people we did. I’m back home for not even two weeks when jetBlue started their All You Can Jet promotion. They were offering an unlimited amount of flights to wherever they fly for $500! I had to jump on it despite the lack of finances. Like I did for my cross-country roadtrip, I’m turning to the barter system for lodging and meals. My schedule looks like this so far:

New York I: 9/10 through 9/13

New York II: 9/17 through 9/20

New Orleans: 9/18 through 9/21

Boston: 9/26 through 9/28

Hawaii: 9/29 through 10/3 (not through jetBlue and no lodging needed but thought I’d throw that in just in case folks want to shoot)

Seattle: 10/4 through 10/6

I’ve been tapping into the couchsurfing community but it looks like so has every other AYCJer. I’m totally down to barter photography for a couch if anyone is interested! I am super duper clean, don’t smoke, low maintenance, and will stay out of your hair if you want me to. Or you can come play tourist with me and I promise I’ll leave you with some great shots in return for your hospitality!

If you can’t host but you want to book a shoot, give me a holler for a special rate!

Lastly, I am looking for volunteer opportunities in each of the cities I will be visiting. I’d love to somehow incorporate photography into it but am just happy volunteering in any capacity as well… foster homes, retirement communities, homeless shelters, etc. Let me know if you know of any or work with specific ones that you’d think I’d match up with well.

Leaving you with some shots from the islands!

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Happy Father's Day

I miss you and love you papa… not just today, but every day. Happy Father’s day.

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Know Your Worth… Money Ain't Everything

I haven’t blogged in A LONG TIME. Why do I always go through these lapses? My excuse this time… I’ve been hard at work building my portfolio and getting ready to launch my photography site. It’s about damn time.

It’s crazy where my life has been and where it’s led me to today. Never did I think I’d be a struggling artist. For the most part, I am not. I have my personal training to fall back on and that’s what I’ve done in order to continue shooting and pursuing my passions. If you asked my parents, they’d assuredly tell you that I was going to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. I was speechless when my mama told me that she supported my endeavors in photography. I was totally expecting her to be disappointed and angry that I wasn’t in a conventional 9-5 (or more like 7-7) career. She told me to do what makes me happy. Do you understand how refreshing and relieving that was for me to hear? A first generation Vietnamese-American male, the only son, and since my pops passed away, the assumed patriarch of my family. And for that to come from a traditional Vietnamese mother, an immigrant, a refugee, a three time prisoner of the Communist re-education camps and overall, one bad mutha… er, I mean mother (thank you mama for allowing me to pursue my passions in life without having to worry about disappointing anyone but myself).

I hated being a trainer when I was at UCLA and Equinox. I was around people who trained for the sake of money and not because they wanted to help those in need. So I gave it up when greener pastures came calling. Now here I am again, training. The difference now is that I am in love with it again. I’m in a private setting with my clients, no longer bothered by selfish, deceiving, and money hungry so-called trainers who care more about the dollars than their clients’ well-being. Obviously not all trainers are like this but I was around enough of them that it left a permanent bad taste in my mouth.

If you know what my training rates are, then you would probably say I’m a hypocrite when it comes to the money hungry part. I know I’m expensive… but like I’ve said before, I might be expensive but at least I care about you. I’m expensive because I know what I’m worth. I know what I can offer you. And if you’re willing to pay me what I’m worth then that means you value my knowledge and you value my work. It’s like someone who purchases a Ferrari… it’s expensive but they know what they’re getting. On top of that, it keeps you accountable to me and yourself. Do you really want to waste the money you spend on me? No, so you’re gonna come in and bust your ass. Are you gonna buy a Ferrari and trash it? No. If that’s how you operate, pay for a shitty trainer and go waste his time instead.

If I were indeed the money hungry trainer, I’d train any and every person that asked me to train them. But I don’t. I pick and choose my clients. If I interview you and your motivation and goals are not in line with my philosophies, then I don’t train you. Here’s a tip: if you want to train with me then your training goals should never include wanting to look like Megan Fox. Wrong motivation. I have one particular client that I am very proud of. She never speaks of how she looks or how much weight she’s lost. All she talks about is being able to keep up with her family when they go hiking. How she never gets left behind or how she never holds anyone back. She’s ecstatic that she’s now a part of the family again. That makes me happy and reinforces why I love training so much.

I’ve tried to apply the same mindset to my photography. As an artist, I’d like to get paid for what I’m worth but it’s much different than being a personal trainer. With art, it’s subjective for the most part. With training, the results are measurable. How do you do that with photography? I think that’s where your style comes into play. Developing a style that is unmistakably you. When you look at an Ansel Adams photo, you know exactly who took that photo. I’m currently in that stage of my development as a photographer. With digital cameras being so cheap, EVERYONE is a photographer these days. It’s gotten to a point where people have tried to get me to do photo shoots for next to nothing. How do I set myself apart and get them to value me as an artist and the work that I produce? I am in no way comparing myself to the great artists of our time but from a business stand point, I need clients to see me as the next Helmut or Annie and not just a kid with a camera. I think that’s the hardest part for me right now. At the same time, prospective clients need to understand the value of my work and why they approached me in the first place. Again, in no way am I comparing myself to the greats but you don’t go into an art gallery and offer pennies for a Picasso.

It’s so weird that I’m even writing about this cause I tell a good friend of mine all the time… if I could shoot and train everyone for free, that’s what I would do. These two things make me the most happy in life and I would be very grateful to be able to provide these services to people who genuinely need it but can’t afford it. In the meantime, I’ll have to continue charging what I do for my services and give back to the less fortunate as often as I can. But my ultimate goal is to be able to train and shoot for free and figure out how to monetize my life in other ways. I’ve made it easier by changing my lifestyle from one that required material possessions to be happy to a lifestyle which seeks and chases life experiences to be happy. That one little change means I don’t have to make as much money to keep up with the Joneses. I never plan on going back to work ever again as I’d rather struggle and be passionate about what I do than sit behind a desk all day. Like they say, love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.

Ps. Thanks Taryn for the photo. =)

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Happy Birthday Pops!

Pops… it’s your birthday! Wanted to wish you a happy 66th birthday and hope you’re enjoying it. Our birthdays are so close together but I can’t remember the last time we celebrated one together. I blame it on me being young and selfish. Instead of celebrating our birthdays together, I gave my friends top priority. I wish you were still here to guide me in life… it’s sadly ironic that you’re more influential to me now that you’re gone than when you were here.

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Is Your Trainer Stealing From You?

I wanted to take some time out from editing photos from all the shoots I did on the roadtrip to talk about something that has been getting under my skin as of late. If you follow me on Facebook, then you’ve probably heard of all my rants that go a little something like this:

“…again people, if you are overweight/obese and your trainer is having you do bullshit like bicep curls and lateral abduction, HE IS STEALING MONEY FROM YOU!! Stop wasting your time and money!!”

Elite Fitness and Kettlebell Systems in Lafayette, Louisiana

It boggles my mind when I see so-called personal trainers have their overweight/obese clients do bicep curls and tricep extensions the entire session. Then they have them lay down and do crunches. If you’re overweight/obese, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you want to lose weight. The aforementioned exercises will do NOTHING for you! On top of that, more often than not, the trainers are talking more than they are training! Personal trainers are expensive, so whatever you’re paying your trainer, wouldn’t you want your money’s worth?

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