A Thank You and a Chance to Address the Elephant in the Room

I just wanted to write a little appreciation post to everyone who has supported me over the years – whether it was through cars, my photography, or even just coming to this blog to visit – I haven’t come to appreciate it much until recently. I regret that because the only reason I still write posts and take pictures today is because of you guys. Thank you if you’ve been with me from the beginning, thank you if you’ve came half-way through, and thank you if you just got here.

I’ve been blogging for what seems like a lifetime – it’s been about 13 years since I started my first one on blogspot. Even before that, there were things like CalgaryPlanet, AsianAvenue (#TBT), and even Nexopia. The true blogging of things, cars, and my life wasn’t truly until I hit blogspot and a big part of blogging for me was being able to show exceptional photos. When I first got interested in photography, I was using a point and shoot and a bucket as a tripod. I won’t get into specifics about where I started but over the years – my friends and their cars – the ones you’ve seen posted here have been subjected to my shoots, my practicing of different techniques – good and bad. You’ve seen some of their faces in my ‘set up’ shots and over time, I was able to develop my own style of photography that many of you are familiar with and I’m grateful for that. It gives me a good feeling when people are anxious and excited to see content posted up from events or photoshoots. I enjoy the feedback and comments from people like “@jayhoang shot my car” or “great shots as usual from @jayhoang”. And I’m really not trying to toot my own horn – this is me thanking you for your support every time you tag me in your posts.

It wasn’t until recently that I really truly misjudged and/or underestimated the support that I’ve gained over the years. In my recent plea for help to upgrade my photography arsenal – the amount of DM’s and messages and emails were overwhelming.

Over the last decade or so, I’ve been doing shoots with no monetary attachment. It was for my own pleasure and experience – I’ve been the type of person that always thinks “it’s not good enough”. Every year, every shoot, it gets progressively better and so I think to myself – when I get really good, then I can do something about it. But having that mindset of never being good enough means that I’ll never get to “really good” – it’s a never-ending road, but I think it pushes you to always try to create exceptional work and the ‘customer’ will always receive the best work that you can provide at that time.

In my post, I asked for 6 volunteers for photoshoots at a cost to help fund new gear with the promise that as soon as I got the new gear, I’d do another photoshoot for them. Needless to say, the spots filled up and before I knew it – my weekends and evenings were full. My ‘thank you’ goes out to everyone that reached out and there were some (that will remain nameless, but they will know who they are) that even just donated to the cause. It was at that moment – regrettably – that I realized how 13 years of doing something can create such strong foundations beneath you that you sometimes don’t even realize are there. I use the word ‘regrettably’ cautiously only because I wish I knew sooner, but it’s as they say – it’s only when you’re down that people who truly care or support you will come and give you a hand. I want to clarify – I’m not “down and out”, I just wanted to provide people who were interested in a photoshoot the opportunity to join in on the “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” scenario. So again, thank you to everyone who reached out – it really means a lot to me, you have no idea!

Now for the dreaded elephant in the room. That elephant has always been there – I just chose to ignore it due to reasons stated above, but jumping ship from Canon to Sony (or any brand for that matter) is a huge leap that involves switching practically all of your gear in order to be back to where you started. Unfortunately, it’s not a free switch (what is free these days?). At the end of the day, as much as photography is a hobby for me – it still costs me money to maintain the hobby. If I were going to meets and just taking random photos – I wasn’t expecting people to pay me per picture. I know you’ve all probably heard this before but photography is more than pushing a button and having a nice picture come out. It’s having the gear, it’s driving to the location, it’s the cost of gas, it’s the time spent editing the photo, the subscription to host the photos and display it, and ultimately the final outcome which you receive to do whatever you please with it. The result – although intangible – is something that (I hope) brings you some sort of gratification, like any product, but requires work to deliver it.

Photography is a really blurry area when talking about services. The water is muddy because it’s not something that you pay to get certified in. There’s no ‘paper’ you can show to people to say you’re good at what you do. You just need to be able to have a good camera and the title of “photographer” is instantly yours these days. I take a lot of pride in taking good photos, and I really hesitate to call myself a ‘photographer’ to people because I know how people feel about it. “I just take pictures.” My take on my work has always been to let my pictures speak for itself, that people recognize good quality, and great work will always outshine any title, in my humble opinion. I joke a lot about people calling themselves photographers as soon as they get an “expensive” camera because it truly takes more than that. People need to start somewhere and everyone has their own idea of good work – which is a big reason as to why the water is just so muddy. Someone who has never seen a good photo before will think that a photo from an iPhone X is amazing. Someone who has seen millions of good photos will know that it’s from an iPhone X. It’s the same thing when trying to find a good bodyshop or mechanic – you need to weed through the bad to find the good.

My point is that although my work won’t be free (for the many reasons listed already), my hope is that everyone still understands the difference in quality, attention to detail, and many other little things that come with the work. You’re ultimately funding the passion and work that I’ve been pursuing for all of these years. It helps me (and other truly deserving paid photographers) continue to upgrade and support themselves in whatever way they need. In that same breath, I am absolutely not concerned or offended if you decide that my work is not worth your dime, because I know there will be some out there that will be turned off by this. There are many other photographers out there that I’m sure will do what you need them to do.  So again, thank you to those that continue to help fuel the fire and keep my passion going – for every photo I take, you’re a part of it in one small way or another. Here’s to another 13 years?

The Hoangers: Thank you!

Finally almost back in action! It’s been a long ass time since I’ve had even a second to think about the blog and now that I can, I can start off by just saying a few quick thanks on behalf of Diana and I. After a year of preparation and tons of sacrifices (mostly car parts), the time has come and gone in the blink of an eye. They aren’t kidding when they say to slow down and breathe and enjoy the moment because by the time we knew it, Diana and I were laying in the hotel bed and said “I can’t believe it’s over…”

20140805-160552-57952579.jpgThe biggest thanks goes to our wedding party – this wedding would not have been possible without any of you. Diana and I have talked to each other over and over and over about this wedding and it always comes down to you guys. We would not have done it any other way and you guys have made every moment leading up to our special day worth it in a million ways and more.

We said it in our thank you speech, and I’ll say it again – being a part of the bridal party is not as simple as showing up as the bride and grooms sidekicks to help us look pretty. It’s a financial commitment, it’s a time commitment, and it’s an emotional commitment. For everything that you all have done, we are forever grateful and I wish there was a better way to show it. But trust me when I say that for as long as Diana and I around, we got your backs just like you had ours.

This picture was our post-rehearsal picture and man, do I miss it…

20140805-160553-57953236.jpgThanks to all my groomsmen – you guys have been the best team of groomsmen that I could have asked for. I can’t count how many times that I’ve heard a “if you need anything, let me know” or a “what else do you need to do for the wedding?”. It’s things like that that make you guys the A-team. Thank you for thinking so much of Diana and I through all our stress and anxiety. I am most grateful for the effort you guys put in for us on Sunday. There was no hesitation to get things done, no leaving things missed and you guys truly helped put the spotlight on Diana and I.

Thank you for putting up with my OCD about getting things done perfectly and for ensuring things were done to the best of your ability. I really could not have asked for more. I am glad that I got to sit with YOU guys at the head table that night. Thank you.


20140805-160552-57952838.jpgThank you to all the beautiful bridesmaids.  You ladies filled the day with so much fun and joy and each and every one of your smiles are so big and so bright that I can’t help but smile myself when I look at every picture you are all in. Diana is so (f***ing) lucky to have you all in her life and to have you there to share her special day. There is no other combination that would have made the bridesmaids group more stunning and neck breaking than all of you.

Thank you girls for everything – for helping Diana and for making sure that she could be in the spotlight all the time. Thank you for sharing your tears with us even if your make up got ruined, thank you for complimenting the groomsmen so perfectly – each of you were the best arm candy that they would ever have for free for a day. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

20140805-161253-58373220.jpgOne of the biggest and perhaps most overlooked thanks goes to you two – Derrick and Thy. You two are more important than you think and you are as close to being the foundation of our wedding day as you can get. I can’t even begin to put into words how much passion and hard work that you two put into our day and it truly makes Diana and I so happy to have you two in our lives. You guys are the best.

Showing up early, making things perfect, setting the sign in table up and just working it like nobodies business – thank you. There is so much that you guys have done behind the scenes that I wish I could thank you for every single thing. Thank you for understanding our (my) need for perfection and working with it. Thank you for insisting that it’s your pleasure when really it is ours. Most importantly, thank you for being a part of the family – we wouldn’t want it any other way.

20140805-160555-57955487.jpgGopesh! Thank you for being free for everything that we needed and waiting around hand and foot for whatever it was we needed. Ever since the engagement, you have been so helpful and open to doing whatever it took to get the job done. Thank you for showing up in a snazzier suit than all of us, and thank you for playing such a big part in both our lives.

Nobody is more baller than you – as this picture proves. Thank you for everything!

20140805-160553-57953780.jpgAnd last but not least – thank you to everyone in this picture (with some missing). Your surprise dance absolutely blew us away and brought back some good memories that I’m glad we got to relive again. We had no idea what you guys were up to for the last few months and it makes us so thankful to have people like you that are willing to put time and effort into our big day. I have been told stories of all the close calls of getting caught and either Diana and I finding out and we think it’s hilarious. Have no fear though – we didn’t even think anything close to what you guys did was going to happen and I’m glad we didn’t.

All of you KILLED the performance and we watch the video over and over again. We love you all!

20140805-160553-57953621.jpgAnd finally – just Diana and I halfway through the night and it’s super sad to see this picture because it went by too quick. If we could relive the day over again with all of the anxiety, nervousness, tears, laughter, surprise, happiness, and joy – we wouldn’t change a single thing. It was perfect.

For the 100000th time in this post – thank you again to everyone who made this day so special for us. It wouldn’t have been possible without you guys. It’s a blessing to know that all of you were there to share the day with us and we hope that you feel the same! Now for a new chapter in our lives!


THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!