Professional Photographer Mai Duong, the most enthusiastic photographer you will ever meet.


MaiFebruary Video Show Reel

MaiFebruary… what a fantastic month.  Birthdays, Phung and Andrew’s wedding, a trip to Cabo, and lots of sunny days.  I was given a challenge for 30 days to bring my camera around with me and film every day.  At the end, I compiled the video clips together in a show reel that I’m very happy to share.

2013 Goals

Today’s my birthday!  Hooray!  As I look back on the year, I think of the goals I was able to accomplish (run a half marathon, shoot a Cambodian wedding, work with lots of other photographers, shoot a Timbers game!!)

Here are my goals for 2013:

Shoot a wedding in Europe or back home on the east coast.

Shoot an ethnic wedding I haven’t shot before

Shoot half California and half Northwest weddings (this past year was close, but Northwest was a winner)

Make more albums.

Go in front of a camera instead of behind more often.

Pursue a monthly personal project with video.

Call my family more.

Rock climb (bouldering) twice a week.

Stay more hydrated.

Run a marathon. (There.  I said it.)

Favorites moments from the past year:

Shooting these guys:

Running with these girls:

Celebrating and photographing every one of my awesome couples:

Hanging out with these cuties:

Vancouver Half Marathon – I’m only Half crazy

Well, I did it!  I ran my first half marathon (the Vancouver Girlfriends Half Marathon to benefit breast cancer research) last week, the longest distance I’ve ever run.  I felt proud of myself, but most of all, I felt relieved.  Two weeks prior to the race, I had run 11.25 miles, my longest distance ever at the time, and injured my knee in the process.  So, the night before the race, I doubted whether I’d be able to participate or finish the race.  I slept 4 hours that night, nerves and all.

Vancouver Girls Half Marathon Medals/Necklaces

Our medals/necklaces that we received upon finishing the race!

So How Did It Go?

The half-marathon went great!  I survived the entire 13.2 miles, running the entire time.  I took some ibuprofen before the race, so the knee pain wasn’t too uncomfortable for the first half the race.  It’s a great flat course, with some nice views of the Columbia River and some not so nice views of the Fred Meyer.  Also, the crowd was awesome.  There spectators with signs and cowbells and whistles all along the course.  Annie met me a quarter mile from the finish and ran me in.  When I turned the corner to see the finish arch, I sprinted that final block to finish with a time of 2:04:31, reaching my target goal for a 9:30 minute pace!

How I kept my Energy

Well, as most of you know, I have lots of energy on my own, but while running?  Not so much.  I believe that the Gu energy gel I took at the beginning of the race, as well as the energy Shot Blok I took every two miles during the race were a huge help.  The Gu is a bit yucky and difficult to eat, so I’m glad I used the Shot Bloks while running.  Plus they’re like yummy gummy bears, just loaded with energy.

There were some points where my legs got tired and wanted to go slower, but it seemed to mostly correlate to when I was bored.  Xav has a theory when hiking that it takes 10% physical and 90% mental strength to get up the mountain.  I think that’s a bit extreme, but there is some truth to that.   How else could I have kept up 13.2 miles of running?  Besides being disciplined of course 🙂

Hot Chocolate Fried Chicken and Gravy
Hot chocolate: the best-post race energy drink ever!  Fried chicken and gravy: how I reward running.

Thoughts on the Race

I’m pretty satisfied with my performance, considering my four week fast-track training schedule.  Saturday night my hope was to get to participate, but my secret desire was to finish with a 9:30 minute pace, so I’m really happy I didn’t finish at a 9:31 minute pace!  A knee injury and an illness (two days dead on the couch) made me lose 25 miles of training runs, which was almost 30% of my training distance (I did the math).  Unfortunately, due to that hiccup, and Ben’s arbitrary challenge for me to run a half marathon in under 2 hours, I will have to sign up for another race. I guess this means more training runs followed by brunch… oh pity.

Special Shout Outs/Thanks:

Maddy, Chung, Preston, Aimee, and Dashiell: Thanks for coming out to celebrate my “longest” training runs with Brunch!
W. Jon and Poage: Thanks for keeping me company during a training run, because it really helped me to have company.
Milo!  My 11/11/11 nephew came along for my big 11 mile run!  Thanks for staying “calm” for those last couple of miles and being ever adorable at brunch afterwards.
Coach Ben, thanks for setting up my training schedule, even if you don’t know what you’re talking about, and all your other encouragement as well 🙂
Annie, thanks for your watch (and my watch), running with me, giving me that extra burst of energy at the finish, all your encouragement, and doing everything an awesome big sister does.
Karen!  Thanks for training with me, but most of all, thanks for signing up for the race in the first place!

My detailed trip report on the race to come.  🙂

Annie, Karen, and me. Girlfriends, we just ran 13.2 miles!

What Motivated me to Sign up For a Half-Marathon

Finding motivation to run
Three and a half weeks ago, I signed up for my longest race ever, a half marathon.  I am not a runner, actually, I hate running.  So, you might wonder, what would motivate me to sign up for a half-marathon, or even any race for that matter.

It began when a friend signed up for the Vancouver Girlfriends Half-Marathon, and in an act of solidarity, I agreed to register as well.  I wasn’t motivated at the time, but if all my girlfriends were gonna do it, sure, I’d suck it up and run a race.

Then came… nothing.  Well really, then came weddings and travel.  But, no running, no signing up.  With 6 weeks left to train for the half-marathon, I told myself, if I run three times this week,  I get to sign up for the race.  Finding motivation to run
So, I ran three times that week for a grand total of 4 miles.  I even ran in the hilly streets of San Francisco.  But, I also had a stomach bug that wouldn’t leave me alone.  So the running stopped.  And the registration was delayed.

One month left until the half-marathon, two hours before the registration costs went up $10, Annie and I found ourselves asking, are we really running a half-marathon in a month?  Well, earlier that week, we decided that if we managed to get a run in before the fee went up, we’d sign up.  So, there we were, 2 hours until deadline, and I told her I’d run that day, so I signed up.  But I hadn’t run at all.  (ha! Annie, if you’re reading this.)
Finding motivation to run

So, why did I sign up?  I could have easily opted out of the race.  After much thought and analysis (hey, there’s a lot of time to reflect when you’re running), I’ve determined the reason I signed up was for Discipline.
I lack discipline, something I’m now focused on changing.  In an effort to prove to myself that I can be disciplined and actually train for a half marathon, I signed up for a half-marathon.

So, discipline is my motivation.  Discipline is what makes me get out door and complete all my runs (even though it is soooo hard).   Many things can be inspiring (for example, your friends signing up for a race), but finding what motivates you is different.  Sometimes it’s a reward, like the feeling of satisfaction or pride, but for now, it’s my desire for discipline.  It keeps me running, and it’s what helps me stay productive with my time and with work.

Finding motivation to run

So, tell me, because I really want to know, how do you motivate yourself?

Spotted: Venus in the Sun

Venus in the Sun

Took this image this afternoon with my camera and two circular polarizers. 🙂

Family Time

For the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to hang out with this boy.

That’s my nephew 🙂  My sister and her family came over to the west coast all the way from France!  On top of that, my parents also came from the east coast, so the whole family was gathered in Portland .  There was plenty of good eating, taking the kids to parks, and tennis.  Annie and Cookie played tennis every day until injury stopped (aka slowed) them down.  Meanwhile, the grandparents and I used the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with the kids.  (Read: I hope they nap!!)

Family photos at the park


We took lots of cousins photos 🙂

Me and Yohan

It’s Pi Day!

I highly recommend everyone eat pie today, and if you’re in the Portland area, eat lunch at Crust and Common Pie Shop, located at the NW 19th and Quimby food carts.  If you eat there at the picnic tables, he serves the pies hot on a cute blue plate.  So deelish!

Crust and Common Potatoe Cheddar Pie


STOMP was showing in Portland at the Keller Auditorium, and I got to see them again.  I love the show, and I think it’s ridiculous the things they do.  No matter how hard I tried to focus, I couldn’t identify the sources of all the sounds they were making.  It looks really tiring, and really hard, but it’s nice to see that when they goof up, they laugh it off and continue on.  However, the best part of the show was the audience.  The kids were CRACKING up so much that they were half the entertainment.

My 2010 Favorites: Travel

Finally! I’m caught up with year 2010 blogposts!! As a treat (and part of my new years resolution), for the next few posts I’ll be featuring my favorite photos! We’re going to start with my 2010 favorite Travel photos.

1. Mt. Adams from the top of Mt. St. Helens. I lugged my D700 up this mountain, with the sand and dust blowing harshly at me. That camera isn’t making it to the top of anymore mountains, unless it carries itself up in it’s own sand and dust proof bag.

My Top Ten Travel Photos

2. Resurrection Bay from the shores of Seward, Alaska.

My Top Ten Travel Photos

3. Shadows waving from the top of Mt. Tumalo. This was the trip where I experimented with Eric’s super fattie: the 14-24mm lens.

My Top Ten Travel Photos

4. Walking along the shoulder of the Spit in Homer, Alaska, I found the urge to go with negative space.

My Top Ten Travel Photos

5. Tern Lake, Alaska. I really liked how the sun was lighting up these blades, so I went with artistic.

My Top Ten Travel Photos

6. Skilak Lake, Alaska. Driving and driving around looking for an access point to Skilak Lake for a sunset pic, we finally gave up until we came across a campground with a boat ramp access. The sun was pretty much all but gone, but I loved the blue tint everything was taking.

My Top Ten Travel Photos

7. Crater Lake, Oregon. A girl dressed as a hotdog is jumping into the lake. No joke.

My Top Ten Travel Photos

8. Sunset at Crater Lake, Oregon. The wind had picked up, so there was no reflection in the water, leaving the color to the sky.

My Top Ten Travel Photos

9. Red Sky in a Crater Lake sunset. Thanks to Ben, I now know that this effect is called Virga.

My Top Ten Travel Photos

10. My new favorite flower. Why is this travel? Well, this was from my trip to the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC. I don’t normally take pictures of flowers, but I think this flower is the prettiest thing ever.

My Top Ten Travel Photos

Holidays with my Family

My family is pretty spectacular during Christmas time. We get pretty gung ho with the gift giving. It started out reasonable, but as the kids got older, we starting getting gifts for our parents. Then each other. Then there were husbands thrown into the mix. And now (the best) a third generation, a baby boy. Throw in multiple presents, because of course we can’t just get one present for each other. And, Yohan has to have the most presents.

Christmas Photos Christmas Photos

As far as Christmas traditions go, our family is pretty predictable. My dad and Cookie ask to open presents right away while Annie insists on waiting “at least until Christmas Eve!” We used to open presents Christmas morning, but then we started opening “one” on Christmas Eve. But eventually, “one” on Christmas Eve wasn’t enough.  Soon we started during the day, and then, the morning of Christmas Eve.  I wonder when we’ll end up opening presents on my Mom’s birthday, the 20th.

Christmas Photos

My dad tries to figure out what the presents are so he can give hints or clues to the recipients. In response, Cookie gets upset if he’s too obvious.  Annie likes to find creative ways to wrap clothing. My mom gets all three daughters at least one gift that’s the same. We like slippers, but the year we all got winter coats was pretty cute.  I decorate the tree the same every year, except this year we had to avoid decorating the bottom of the tree with fragile ball ornaments seeing how my nephew likes to see if all round things bounce when dropped or thrown.

Christmas Photos Christmas Photos

My favorite part of Christmas is my family.  Their excitement is the best. My dad tears into the wrapping paper the moment you hand him a gift and whatever he gets he opens immediately, or tries on. My mom makes a point to notice the nice wrapping job (we always make a point to wrap hers the nicest). Cookie makes the best expressions when she opens gifts, where every gift (no matter how crappy mine may be) is always well received. Annie gets just as excited and tries on whatever clothes she gets.  Kimmy refuses to let me reign terror on the wrapping jobs, and insists every present be decorated with some sort of ribbon or bow.  Sylvain and Ben try to keep up with the insanity that is our family. And lastly, Yohan, age almost 21 months, plays with whatever is placed in front of him, despite his parents dressing him in his new clothes.

Speaking of which, I guess that means I have an excuse to post some more photos of my nephew!

Christmas Photos Christmas Photos

Christmas Photos

Our Orphan Thanksgiving

Last thanksgiving we invited our friends who didn’t have family in the PDX area (like ourselves) over for a thanksgiving dinner.  It might have been the best meal I’ve ever had.  We had turkey and roast beef for our main meat dishes, along with the mandatory thanksgiving mashed potatoes and stuffing.  Along with that came more tasty side veggie dishes: salad, kale greens, brussels sprouts, and green beans.  And, since that wasn’t enough already, for more carbs we had yorkshire pudding, corn bread, and wild mushroom rice.  I loved it all, and my favorite was the roast beef and mashed potatoes, which I ended my last bite with.

Thanksgiving dinner photos

Thanksgiving dinner photos Thanksgiving dinner photos

Thanksgiving dinner photos Thanksgiving dinner photos

Thanksgiving dinner photos

Oh, and of course we had lots of pies and cookies for dessert!

Thanksgiving dinner photos

Best meal ever.

California & Movies

While in California last week, Xav and I spent a lot of time watching movies.  Our movie marathon started with “The King’s Speech” (Xavier’s choice), followed by Disney’s “Tangled” (my choice), and ended on a Harry Potter Marathon (we decided to watch the first six movies currently available).  I’m a huge fan of movies, and I’m always on the hunt for a good one, so any recs would be great.  Here’s what I’ve seen recently:

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Um… Paul Newman?  I heart him.  He’s pretty, and that movie was pretty great.  You should watch the “Making of” if you can, hilarious.

Scorched. I love this B-film!  I saw it back in college, and it’s still as awesome and hilarious as ever.  I highly recommend.

Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail. I’ve never seen this, and I tried to watch this over a glass of wine.  Apparently, one glass isn’t enough, and I had to shut it off.

Lord of the Rings: Two Towers. So… I have still yet to see the entire LotR trilogy.  I call them my “rainy day movies”.  I’ve been saving the last two for my “rainy day” when I’m in desperate need for a pick-me-up and a guarantee-good-movie.  I just watched the 2nd film, and oh man it’s good.

127 Hours. Well done, especially for a “based on a true story” film.  It wasn’t a boring depiction of “here is what happened” at all, but more of a story with depth and development.  The “gory” scene is probably gory, except I took off my glasses and plugged my ears, so I have no idea.

Heartbreakers. Funny French Film. I’m wondering who they’ll case to play the (inevitable) American remake.

Soon, I’m going to finally get to watch Whip it! I’ve been waiting forever to get to. That, and Little Miss Sunshine.

California & Family

Next stop on the February Awesomeness Train: Surprise trip to California!

Last week I was in the Bay area to visit Xavier, and during the trip, I got to see my cousins and their kids!  I got to meet Julia for the first time, who loves purple and was wearing the cutest purple dress.

She was talking about “the party” we were at (we were out to dinner) and wanted balloons, so she was pretty pleased when Grandpa whipped out a balloon. 🙂

I also got to spend time with Thien Nhi and Thien Mai, via… babysitting!  At one point, I whipped out the camera and let Thien Nhi takes some pics.

The two sisters have very different on camera behaviors.  One loves the camera (she even made up her hair with a barrette), while the other spent most of the time behind the camera or running from the camera.

And, to show what an awesome babysitter I am, here are some pics from when I encouraged them to show me their cartwheels and headstands.

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My Lunar New Years Birthday

Next stop on the February Awesomeness Train: My Birthday. This past weekend I celebrated my birthday threefold with a Lunar New Years celebration, game night, and Superbowl (which my team was playing in!).

For the Saturday birthday party, we catered from Silk, Annie made hến xúc (Vietnamese clam dish), and we even decorated! There was lots of game playing (hooray!) and, in the spirit of the New Years, gambling. They surprised me with a Steelers themed coffee & cookie dough ice cream cake. All the best things combined together!

The next day we had brunch at Cafe du Berry and I had a deelish Salmon Eggs Benedict along with their tasty French Toast.  Later I watched the Superbowl… the Steelers didn’t win, but it was definitely a birthday treat to watch them play.

And, for my sanity and my energy level (getting old!), interspersed throughout the weekend was a lot of chill out time in front of the new wood stove.

Definitely a Good Birthday.

2011 Goals

With the Lunar New Year going on, where superstitions dictate what will “happen all year”, I started reflecting on what I want happening for the rest of the year. My 2010 goals didn’t pan out so well (no pull up, no learning to swim), but reading over them, I realized that most of them were pretty generic, and I’d want them every year. Obviously I’ll want to see family and friends more, take more pictures, cook more, see more sports. This year, I’m trying to make them specific, rather than relative.

Take pictures of self. There are very little pictures of me in 2010 (that’s what happens when you’re the photographer of the group: everyone gets lax on taking pictures when you’re around!). So, I’m going to try and get in front of the camera this year. I am going to have a picture of myself taken every time I whip out my camera with friends and family.

Stop pulling out my hair. It’ll likely be a day to day goal, since I won’t make it the entire year. Back in college I had a system to keep me on this goal, which I called the “TTM log”. I am going to bring this back.

Do a pull up. 2011 is my year to do it.

Blog regularly. My target is at least 2-3 times a week.

Cook one new dish a month. This one will be tougher than it sounds, since I’m a creature of habit when it comes to food.

Shoot 3 Vietnamese Weddings. Shoot one new sport.

See 2 live music performances. For someone who loves music, I don’t go to many shows or concerts (zero in fact).

Go for one walk a week during the weekdays. For my sanity really.

Do cardio type activity 3 times a week. For my health and to appease the mob.

Be no more than two weeks behind in uploading personal photos. This will take some catching up to do, so I’m aiming to be caught up by April.

Give Kayso camera time once a month. It’s time to bring back the mouse.

Print my favorite photos. It’s time to decorate my walls with my photos.

Happy New Year!

Chuc Mung Nam Moi! Today is the Lunar New Year. I’m really excited for this month. Last week was a long and rough week, where I was mentally, physically, and emotionally drained. I watched two movies that week, both of which did well to cheer me up. This week, February hit, and I am very excited for everything that’s coming up this month. First stop: Tet!

Tet Photos Tet Photos

The house is cleaned (I’m loving my reorganized room right now), there’s tons of rice (just bought a new bag last weekend), and we’re getting ready for yummy food and games tonight!

I summarize the new years superstitions as, “whatever happens today with happen all year.” Sometimes I take it literally, even if it’s meant to be metaphorically. So, I took my vitamins, and (hopefully) have not pulled out any hair (this is a problem of mine). I also had coffee this morning, whoops, oh well. Guess I’ll be hyper all year long, sounds good to me.

The Story of Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash

Hello. This is Butternut Squash. Since I was picked up from the farmer’s market on Saturday, I have been sitting in the kitchen… listening. The kitchen is a very popular place and I’ve been hearing lots of talk about “best holiday ever” “gorging on food” “butternut squash soup”. It’s the last one that has my attention. Especially since the words “boiling” and “pureeing” have followed closely afterwards. Butternut squash soup. That does not sound like something I want to be a part of. So, I’ve been attempting to hide.

Click to see where I’ve been hiding!

Miss. P’s Second Birthday Party

Birthday Party Photos
The Birthday Girl got her very own cake to eat with her hands

This has to be the best birthday party I’ve ever been to.  It was for a two year old girl who loved the sound of music, the color pink, and icing.  Her mom put so much effort into planning her little girl’s first birthday bash (the first one is never truly appreciated).  A cake was made with the sound of music ornaments, along with a separate cake just for the birthday girl.  We sang happy birthday, the birthday girl sang along, and her mother started to tear up!

And later, it was present time.  Her last gift was a giant gift.  Unwrapped revealed to be a giant tupperwear box.  Opened it revealed… beach toys!  “Look, P, it’s sandbox toys.  Let’s go find a sandbox!”  We all walked outside to the side of the house, and what was there?  A sandbox.  That’s just magic at work.  They actually found a sandbox.


Portland Festival Symphony

One of the many great things about Portland is the free events it offers.  Yesterday, the Portland Symphony performed on the Tom McCall Waterfront.  I didn’t go, but next year, I’m definitely gonna go check it out.  But, it brings me to this post, about the Portland Festival Symphony.

Portland Festival Symphony Photos in Washington Park
Pretty funny conductor.

The Washington Park Summer Festival hosts free concerts in the amphitheater of Washington Park and I like to attend the Portland Festival Symphony’s concert.  This year was their 30th anniversary, so we (the audience and orchestra) sang them a happy birthday.  The performers are good, the music is beautiful, and the conductor is funny.  This year, I think over 2500 people came to watch them play. People bring picnic dinners and drinks, and lounge about on their blankets. It’s a nice way to spend your summer evening. At the end, they hand out maracas and flutes for the children.  Then, with the aide of hundreds of children with their new instruments, they perform a song together.  That has to be a recipe for success, right? 


10 Things I learned While Watching After Yohan

As mentioned, I traveled to France where I attended my cousin Janis’ wedding and climbed at Fontainebleau.  The rest of the highlights of my trip consisted of my nephew, family, and food.


Ben’s Duathalon

Due to the Kent rescheduling, Ben wasn’t able to participate in a duathalon at Hagg Lake for his birthday. So, as a replacement, we decided to throw him a duathalon for his birthday. It was shorter than your regular duathalon, 5k run & “29k” bike ride filled with some challenges in between. The participants had to do a mini obstacle course at the playground during the 5k. At the exchange, they ate 34 Pringles. During the bike ride they had to solve puzzles and answer trivia questions. At the top of a hill, they were rewarded with limeade and at the finish they were rewarded with homemade brunch!

Ben's Duathalon Birthday Photos
Dillon trying out the zipline. It was part of the obstacle course.

Ben's Duathalon Birthday Photos
Trivial pursuit and biking.  (Waiting for thr bikers to arrive)

No pictures of brunch, yup, that’s right I didn’t take pictures of food.  Was kinda scrambling to make it, and was too hungry to pause for photos…

4th of July

What a weekend! Happy 4th of July to everyone! Spent the 3 day weekend with a wedding, 2 BBQ’s, and a hike up Dog Mountain. Hope everyone had a good time!

4th of July Fireworks

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Went to Pittsburgh, PA and had a mini reunion with 5 of my college friends, the “pollo noche” crew. During the visit, we made tacos, ate KFC (thus the pollo in pollo noche), and visited the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. In all my years of college at Carnegie Mellon, with the conservatory right next door, I never visited.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden Photos