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By: Hoan K. Trinh

Now that it is 2012, I had a chance to review all the photos that I took throughout the past year just to get a grasp of what actually had happened in 2011.  I am not exactly sure how people feel about their old images or how the people in my own photos feel about their photographs or how much they actually remember of the occasion.  But being the person who tripped the camera’s shutter in 99.99 percent of the photos on my computer, I usually remember exactly where the picture was taken, the conversations just before or after the photo, and sometimes I would even remember the particular settings that I put the camera on for a particular shot.  For this blog, I actually went way back to the some of the first images that I ever took to review some favorite moments of mine through out the years.

Please keep in mind that I actually did not take photography seriously until the second semester of my senior year in college so while these photos represent some of my favorite moments from then until now, they are not my only favorite moments.  It is unfortunate that I was not able to capture all the four years of fun that I had in college.

On a different note, while I am very technical when it comes to looking at photographs, and these photos are far from perfect and I do not considered most them to be worthy to be in my portfolio (you can check the site above for that), they still represent the “reality” at the time, and their appeals lie in their ages and the memories they carried rather than technical perfection.  For those who I only met recently, you can see my progression of my works through the years.

This is probably one of the first images that I ever took.  I believe this was in 2003 probably just before I graduated from high school.  This is also that first image that strike me as “neat” and I was kind of hook onto photography because of this image.  Taken with Olympus point and shoot film camera that was purchased at BJ’s for $40 so we can take my high school graduation photos.  I did not know anything about photography at this point, for some odd reasons, the camera’s packaging did not include an owner manual.  Not that it matter much since it turned out that this camera is completely automatic anyway and does not have any setting to play with beside automatic.  That said, the color rendition of film is very unique and it seem deeper than digital, even when compare to modern DSLR.  This photo scan was done by Rite Aid so it probably could have been better 🙂


South Campus at the University of Connecticut in 2007.  While I started out in photography with a film camera, I did not pick up much of the technical aspect of photography so I did not pursue it too vigorously.  While playing with different compositions was fun, I felt very distant with the camera, the click of the shutter was almost like magic, and then a photo show up once you develop the films.  It was not until I pick up my Kodak Z710 point and shoot camera (pictured below) did I really start playing with the camera. While not a professional camera by any standard, it did have a manual setting which allow me to play with it.  With the camera set to manual, the world is yours to interpret,  and that’s where the fun really start!! !  This photo was taken with a 1/6 of second shutter speed, till this day, I am still impress that the photo is reasonably sharp 🙂


One of many self portraits, haha.  This particular photo was taken in the bathroom of our suite in South C, room 317.  The blue background is actually the shower curtain.  I recently looked up the price for this old camera, it’s worth about $30 bucks right now lol.


Me, Dan, Jon, and Enes play poker every Friday night at South Campus.  This hoard of gamblers make excellent friends, who would have thought of that?


I went around UCONN to photograph the campus in my senior year since I was about to graduate.  The caption I had for these two birdies was “Looking for a girlfriend”.  I remember my friend Ashley commented that this is the cutest photo and caption ever 🙂


I had this idea of photographing all the dorms that my friends were living in our senior year.  This is South B, my friends Phuong, Sarah, Kathy, and Jen lived here together in one suite.  I met these four girls in my Freshmen year of college at Tower Campus.


Part of the taking picture of friends’ dorms project, the door on your left is Jon’s suite in South C room 201.  In all four years of college, Jon had a room with the number 201. This is a  floor below mine.


This is one of the first long exposure I did, the window on the bottom right’s is Jon’s room.  The building to the left in the dining hall.  I thought it was cool to have the date imprinted on the photo for some reasons.


This is the stair case that lead to the dining hall.  I ran up and down this flight of stairs  at least 3 times a day.



Enes, a close friend and gambler who was with us on this trip had this to say on Facebook: “OK, enough… Dan are you aware Hoan took this many pics of u standing there Dan! Next time seek a different hiding spot ;)”


One of the few decorations in our suite, which we got for free 🙂


I lived at the Tower campus for the first three years, this is actually quite a hill to go up and down every day.  And since it is the farthest campus from just about everywhere, you always have to climb this hill after a long long hike.


When my roomate, Enes, had his senior project, I came along to photograph it.  This turned out to be favorite photograph even though Enes himself is not in the photo.  Garrett, center, is one of Enes’ friend who we had played soccer with earlier in the year. I actually don’t know who they two other guys are, but hey, at least I have the photo 🙂

I did not take too many personal portraiture back in the day, I started out shooting mostly landscapes and buildings and such.  But I really like this photo of my friend Erin who came to one of our poker games but then ended up getting bore so she read. So peaceful.


So the taking picture of your friends’ dorms during senior year also included our own dorm room.  Enes and I were roommate and yes, this is a photo of our room 🙂   In our defense, this picture was taken when first got back from Spring break, being from the same town, we came up together and just chucked everything everywhere 🙂


This is a group photo of one our last party  in Phuong, Sarah, Kathy, and Jen’s suite in South B.  We also have a homemade dinner here  once also  but I did not bring my camera for that, I should have.


Graduation, one of my favorite photo from that day!!!


We had our graduation in the Gampel Pavilion, home of the Huskies!!!


The poker shark, Daniel Zip, this picture was taken on his 23rd birthday.  He is one of the quadruplet, Connecticut’s fist quadruplet and I believe the only quadruplet in Connecticut’s  history.  Because he was one of the four kids celebrating their birthdays on the same day, there was a strict limit on how many friends each of the siblings could invite.


One of the boats used by the Vietnamese boat people to escape communism,  I do not know how this boat even floated but it survived the trip with probably 60+ people on board.  The boat was put onto a truck to showcase it around the US.


Fishing in Lake Livingston!  The person in the photo is my uncle lol.


Another self portrait, this was a time when I was still relatively fit since after college.  I’m going to get my 6 packs back for the summer!!! New Year resolution!!!


Home in CT, playing with the infinity focus stuff.


One of my favorite portraits just because of his tough expression!!!


MY FIRST PHOTOGRAPH ON A DSLR!!!!  Shot on my uncle Nikon D4o with my cousin Tracey under the table.  Love the lighting in this shot and it feels like she’s hiding under the table.


I decided to purchase my own Nikon D40 shortly after and took this picture of Tracey riding her bike for the very first time!!


Went on a an ao dai photo shoot with a friend and model, this particular portrait would be my absolute favorite in a long time.  A very traditional interpretation of the ao dai.


My friend, Jon, went jumping out of an airplane after school with the Connecticut Parachutists.  He took Enes with him.  Of course this would be the warning: “Parachute systems sometimes fail to operate correctly even when properly manufactured, assembled, packed and operated. You risk serious injury or even death each time you use this system. Read, understand and comply with all manufacturer’s manuals, recommendations, procedures, placards and limitations before use.” 


After landing, the guy with 30,000 jumps just went to check his phone while these two kids finally realized that they were still alive.


My mom came from a family of 12 siblings, 2 had passed away so while this was a big gathering, it is far from a complete family reunion.


I took my cousin swimming everyday for a few weeks then his dad signed him up for the swim team and now he’s a good swimmer 🙂


The fist wedding I ever photograph was actually a Bosnian wedding.  Enes paid for my flight tickets back to CT to photograph his special day.  Keep in mind that Enes was willing to do that without really seeing any kind of portfolio from me, he did it based on the crap photos I took of him in college.  His brother told me afterward that he thought the photo would turn out okay, average but definitely not “good” as they turned out to be.  I improved my photography skills while I was in Texas so these brothers didn’t know what I was capable of lol.


I was told something about spinning the bride, I couldn’t imagine what that could possibly be, but this is what spinning the bride is 🙂


It is the brother of the groom who actually put the wedding ring on the bride.


Last shot of the wedding day before I have to get on a flight to go back TX.  I was in New England for less 24 hours.  Shooting your first wedding is quite nerve wracking, adding on all the travelling and I was relief when I got home and finally had all the photos back up.


Law school graduation with my parents!!!!!!!! Woo!!!!!!!!!!!!


Driving back to CT after a nice 3 year stint in Houston, TX.  My car was loaded down with all the gears and had about 1/2 an inch of clearance on the rear suspension.  This Toyota Camry had 185,000 miles at the time and it was about to make a 2000 mile trip, needless to say it was a little bit risky.  I took care of the car well but at the same time, I only had it for the last 20 K miles, I don’t think the previous owner did a particular good job with the maintenance either but she survived without a hitch.  My friends Jon and Ryan flew down from CT to make this trip possible!!!! How awesome is that??  You know you have good friends when they were willing put to up with you for 5 days and 2000 miles 🙂

“We are going to die!!!!!!”  One of the few interesting scenes we that we saw as we cut through Arkansas.

Caught a game with the Cardinal in St. Louis.   Guess who’s playing?  Albert Pujols!!!  I heard he is moving soon.  Because of photos like that my, friend Ryan have to say from the bottom of his heart: “Thanks for the zoom lens, Hoan!!!!”  

Stop in Pittsburgh to see a game with the Pirates.  The only idiots in the world to drive 10 hours to see the Pittsburgh Pirates who was in 2010, the worst team in the league.  Actually, we saw two of their games in the row as they play against St. Louis the day before.  Even the Pirates’ fans were looking at us funny.

John and Ryan in Baltimore on Federal Hill over looking the harbor, this is our last stop of the trip.

Living in Connecticut does give an advantage of year round worth of Autumn as the leave are preserve in the winter under a couple of foot of snow.

Hiking in the New Hampshire, a stunningly beautiful day in October.  This turned out be the toughest hike since we had to carry the baby up the mountain.  This photo is precious because she was on the ground for only two minutes, making this one of about 4 photos of her hiking.

Grandpa and granddaughter on top of  the White Mountain.

Studying for the CT bar exam, well, at least it looked some what romantic 🙂

First winter back in Connecticut, 19 inches of snow, that was a nice welcome back message!!!

This is not the first time Kimi and I went to Philadelphia for work.  This is actually our third time.  I think that it is fair to said that our first time was probably the most memorable since both of us were new to the city.  Hiking all over a strange city would make quick friends out of strangers.  Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera the first two times that I went to Philadelphia,  I was always a little skeptical of walking around a strange city with a camera.  But I’m glad that I brought it with me that time around.

One of our last photo in Philadelphia before we said goodbye to the city, the city show off itself quite well as the background to this photo.  This is also one of my a favorite portrait as it reflect Kimi’s personality quite well but it also mark the last time that we would be in the city of Philadelphia together, for work at least.

This the first time that Kimi came to my home in Connecticut.  This pond is known as Burr Pond, it’s a 2 minute drive from my house and while I have heard of it, this is actually my first time going to the pond.  So Kimi and I were on the same page.  lol.  This poor New Yorker hadn’t seen a tree in two years 🙂 (Correction, this is the second time I went to Burr Pond, the first time was for the ao dai photo above 🙂

I like Burr Pond so much that I took a couple friends back there for a nice little hike a couple of week after.  We walked through a mosquitoes infested areas so he took off his shirt to swat mosquitoes.  The first thing his girlfriend said when he took of his shirt was “ewwwwwwwwwwwww” 🙂

I was asked to photograph another wedding for a good friend of my mother.  The wedding was uneventful, it did not required to much travelling and coordination unlike the first wedding that I photographed for my friend.  I think anyone can relate to this child though, in love with his cream puff!!!

A fun in between shot with a good friend and model, this turned out to be my Nikon D40‘s last photoshoot before going into semi retirement.  The D40 had served me very well but I was running into its limitations a little too often here and there so now it serve as the 2nd string camera when it come to photoshoot.

Testing out my new Nikon D90!!!  The Nikon D90 sensor and user interface is leaps and bounds above that of the Nikon D40.  I mean, it is a much more expensive camera that came out at later time….c’mon 🙂  This is my first test shot with the new camera and the amount of details that it could render is stunning!!!  That said, some of my old shot on my Nikon D40 and Kodak Z710 are still my favorite ( as indicate by this blog) regardless of the technical prowess of the photos coming out of the D90.   It’s all about the expressions and the light and the composition that make a photo, not necessarily how sharp or colorful something is.

Playing with light, photographing my dad in the back yard.

Playing with light with my friend and model on top of a parking garage lol. She’s also the ao dai model above, it is quite convenient when you live close to a model.  Going on a photo shoot in public has always been an interesting affair 🙂


Enes decided that it was cool to have a baby, we revoked his gambling license soon after.  Aila waived to to world as she yawned.

I love to see my photo as an actual print rather than just a file on the computer screen, my dear friend, Kimi, like it so much that she tagged herself in this photo of a photo of herself that she already has on Facebook.  This picture is printed on the back cover of my photobook where I kept all my favorites photos.

So this ‘taking a picture of where your friend live’  idea is not exactly new, I’ve done at UCONN before I graduated.  I took this photograph of Kimi’s apartment before she moved to Austin, TX.  I only came to this apartment three times and I actually never been inside, yet I feel feel a strange a connection to it somehow ( probably remind me of the fact that I survive NYC‘s traffic or something),  Kimi lived here for a couple of years during her stay in NYC, I’m sure she would have more of a connection to it than I would.  The photo was taken when I came to say goodbye.

Autumn in New Hampshire is stunningly beautiful.  This is another of our hiking trip.  Out of all these people in the photos, I only known 3 of them beforehand, but hiking, like poker, is a wonderful way to get to know people.  It is during adventurous trips that truly help define characters.

Toan is the first Hanoian I met.  My mom always said that people from the North are very kind and gentle.  Toan is very kind but definitely not gentle.  In the present of beautiful women, he speaks from the heart 🙂  Anyone noticed that the last two shots was taken on D40?  At 800 and 1600 ISO I might add 🙂

I already know that i won’t be to get this photo ever again.  That face is just priceless 🙂

Remember the portrait of Erin from above?  Yes, the camera have gotten better (a lot), I’ve gotten better, but would I trade one photo for another?  Probably not.  Photos become more valuable as they get older, technical perfection cannot take away that appeal.  Taken when I came down to visit her in Norwalk, CT.  You don’t really know how big CT is until you go to Norwalk from Torrington, it’s like 70 miles one way lol.

If you read this blog closely, you would know that I have mentioned her name before, however, it is quite funny that I have know her for about 8.5 years now but I actually don’t have any real portrait of her.  I am sure some of you are wondering, and you are a what what??  As I have said in the beginning, these photos do not represent my entire life, just a small aspect of it.  While I have know her since my freshman year of college,  I did not become interested in photography until my last semester in college.  And then I went away for a few years so yeah…..Some people that I’ve know and are good friend with for a long time don’t have many photos by me while other relatively new friends have a ton. lol.  This particular photo was taken in Houston, TX where she moved to just right before I went back to Connecticut.  When I came back to Houston for a visit, I decided that I should really get an “official” portrait of her for the memory book. Quite shy when it come to getting her picture taken (I noticed most women are shy when you take their photos in public as everyone else would stare at them), Phuong only allowed me only one shot (after some negotiations).  I was relieved when I saw that my flash exposure was reasonably accurate lol.

Omar and Elsa!!!  Omar was my locker mate in law school, this guy is the current record holder of stating the most amount of jokes per minute in school, he certainly made life a little easier for everyone as life in law school could be quite stressful.  Elsa is Elsa, I had way to many political debates with her but it was all in good fun 🙂   I did not take too many photos of my law school classmates.   I mean, I just did not bring the camera to school, it would be kind of odd right???  So most of my photos while I was in law school were of the little cousins and relatives and what not.  Now that I am back in Connecticut, taking pictures of old law school friends would be quite difficult, so when I flew down to Texas for a visit, I had my chance to do just that  and who know when the next opportunity will come?

This is the first time I did a photo review so I decided to started from the very beginning, who know what 2012 will bring but I am sure the review would be a bit shorter than this 2011 extended version.  A word of advice for everyone, don’t be shy about taking photos your friends, you’ll treasure it someday!!


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