We often joke and call ourselves the “loser club” because we started out in the corporate world together. It has been more than a decade and most of us have gone our seperate ways, yet when we get together it is ridiculously fun. I would like to introduce you to one of the most talented member, Josephine (Hanh) Mai. Her work speaks for itself–breathtaking. I love that I can now Facetime her and get my dose of creative inspiration. I am thankful for our friendship. Thank you Josephine for sharing your beautiful world.
You: tell about self
Let me start off by saying I feel like a wimp in comparison to all the other interviewees on this blog. I’ve never trained for a real marathon, but to give me some credit, I have done one teensy-weensy marathon…err walk back in the days. So unlike most of the interviews on this blog, I am just a wimpy girl who likes to take pretty pictures of pretty things and hopefully someone out there finds something inspirational. So here goes my story…
As if being a mother to a 4 year old boy and a 7 year old girl wasn’t adventurous enough, I took a leap of faith and decided moving to Dubai would be the best decision for my family. Dubai…the Middle East…a mysterious place so far away I didn’t know anything about but only had caught glimpses of the surrounding Middle East countries over the news and well, it’s usually about wars and violence…a place I least would expect myself to visit let alone live. So my family of 4 packed up in Aug 2012 to follow my husband’s career on the other side of the world and it has certainly been an adventure with no regrets. It was a much needed change and a blessing to have been given this opportunity…but it was also daunting to go from the familiar to a land that seemed so different than my own.
I had been a stay-at-home mom since my son was born, but I always knew when I left my corporate job that I still wanted to work, but I craved for something creative…something that I would love to do and yet would give me flexibility to spend time with my children…the only problem was I had no inkling what my “passion” was. Two years ago, I had decided I wanted to have my own online boutique and hired a model and to save money, I photographed the lookbook myself. It wasn’t until I started processing the photos that I realized I really enjoyed making beautiful photos. To make a long story short, I abandoned that online business venture when I realized my heart was in photography. After settling in Dubai for exactly a year now and my little ones in school, I am reviving my dreams of shooting again, a dream that always whispered in my ears or at times, seem to SHOUT at me to get out and make something happen instead of daydreaming.
Do: what do you do that you love
Up until my first photoshoot, I had only photographed my kids and didn’t even know all the functions on my camera. I revel in the whole process from visualizing the shoot to post production to the client’s reaction and am giddy with excitement when I’ve captured an image that is nostalgic…that makes you feel in the moment and when time seems to stand still; those are the images I love most. Freedom and creativity is what photography means to me; freedom to be my own boss, to spend time with family and pursue a career I am passionate about and where creativity knows no bounds. I’ve been hungry for knowledge ever since my first shoot, and I’m constantly on a mental learning curve since photography is always changing with new software, cameras, etc. At times it feels like I’ll never graduate, but that’s okay since it keeps me striving to hone my skills and capture that next favorite image.
Learn: what did you learn
I’ve never been so neurotic about anything else in life before…I was DETERMINED to create the online boutique I envisioned in my head granted I considered myself technically challenged…but after months of hard work and tears it did launch although I would soon abandon it. Through that experience, I learned I could accomplish anything I set my mind to no matter how impossible the task. That abandoned business venture (if you can even call it that since I wasn’t fully committed), I learned that everything happens for a reason (as cliché as that sounds) and that whatever you are wishing for will happen when the timing is right…when you are most ready for it to happen. I felt like I had failed and struggled to regain confidence in myself but now have realized it was a blessing since without it, I wouldn’t have discovered my passion for photography. On the downside, I also learned there are people who want to take advantage of you, take your money and not deliver and then still claim they delivered the goods!
As for my current pursuit in photography, I’ve realized that fear is what is preventing me from realizing my dreams. My father’s passing three years ago made me see there’s nothing worse than losing a loved one, and if I can survive that, there’s nothing I should fear, especially failure or rejection. I’ve accepted that at times, I will fail, and that what’s important is that I keep moving forward and being able to see where I want to be and having the ambitions to get there. I’m happier when I’m shooting and taking a step closer towards my goals. I’m blessed and ever grateful to have everything going for me; a great supportive husband, two beautiful and happy kids, a life I could never have dreamed of, financial flexibility to be able to pursue this without pressure of having to make money, but for me, I always knew even the day I left the corporate world I needed my own career…something that would challenge me and keep me focused. I learned am learning to be in the present, it’s the journey and not the destination, that my mind is a powerful instrument I can use to succeed or fail, that success for me means being able to make a career out of a passion, and well, let’s be honest, it helps if that “passion” can make some money too.
Finally, as for my move to Dubai, I’ve learned I’m not so afraid of change anymore and that drastic change can be a good thing. I’ve soaked up new experiences and have become less introverted as Dubai is a place where people are constantly weaving in and out of your life. In fact, I am one of two activities coordinators for the spousal association here in Dubai. It has been a rewarding experience to form friendships and have the creative freedom to set the activities and events for such a nice group of ladies. Lastly, I’ve learned you get what you ask for and sometimes even more. When we initially thought about living overseas, I could have never imagined what was waiting for me in Dubai. It has been an enriching experience beyond my wildest dreams, and I know the best is yet to come….
Photo Credit: Josephine Mai