I am a Journalist and Photographer from Sydney, Australia, who is currently working from Vietnam. I specialise in the discussion of social and environmental issues, particularly the intersection of the two, and have a particular interest in people, how they think and how they interact. In my view, the world only exists because of stories – without stories and the lives that hold them together, we would be nothing but simple matter, unevolved and with no purpose to push ourselves forward.
I was born in the UK and came to Sydney at age 8 with my family to start a new life. As far as I’m aware, the only reason we came so far across the world was to adventure – my parents were both struck with the same wanderlust I now treasure and were in the happy position of being able to migrate, so they did.
I graduated high school in 2011 and managed to earn a place among the fourteen top composition majors from all over Australia who were accepted into the Sydney Conservatorium of Music that year. I began a degree in composition and arts.
One year later and I had left my new home on my first solo adventure, eventually deferring my degree and giving myself to travel, that great and expensive teacher, with adventuring solo from Kerala to Kashmir up the East coast of Mother India.
It would be impossible for me not to remember those months and the things they taught me. I returned to Sydney the following year and got back into “normal” life, but nothing made me light up anymore. As beautiful and safe Sydney is and as many friends I have there, it lacks the spark of gut-born energy that developing countries cling to – that stubborn, essentially human flame that sits behind the eyes of people who live to survive. This spark is the mark of poverty and for that, I hate it, but in the belly of Sydney, it can feel like there is no spark at all.
So I left again, for a month, to Vietnam.
I took only my backpack with me – a tiny hiker’s pack with colourful patches sewn all over it from my previous adventures – and $800 AUD in savings. I planned to be back home in a month so I didn’t bother saving too much for the trip, but in the end one months unravelled into what has now become three years of passionate, desperate, beautiful exploration.
I drew henna tattoos on people for the first few months and sold charcoal drawings of local life to travellers – $5 a drawing, kept me in a hostel and bought me bowls of soup. I went to stay with a Helpx.net member on Phu Quoc island, living with her in her wooden beach hut for free in what I now remember as one of my life’s most incredible, frightening and at the same time amazingly safe insights into how people live when they have next to nothing. Thuy was strange, but very kind and brilliantly determined. I ate with the staff at the Five Oysters, now one of Bui Vien’s most stably, long-standing and therefore incredibly successful restaurants, because the owner suggested it. He was so kind and he still is!
And eventually, I found work. I met my partner, Nguyen, the only person for me in this world of strangers. We were born and raised in parallel but we spoke in different tongues, we ate different cake, our homes had different roofs, and our feet smacked into very different earth when we ran. Soulmates from different worlds who met by chance, in the middle of crazy HCMC, and learned to speak the same. And I began to practise the skills I had gathered as a young girl, to freelance my way into new opportunities.
I was hired by CityPassGuide in 2015 and spent a year in content writing and email marketing, learning the ins and outs of SEO, writing for a specific target, being concise but very clever, fiddling with Mailchimp, with the WordPress CMS, with cPanel and with the basics of html/CSS/php.
Following this, I freelanced for Asia LIFE for a time and other platforms online, before joining Word Vietnam as a feature journalist and photographer. I spent a year as the Content and Marketing Manager for Saigon Outcast and I now work for a range of regional publications on a freelance basis. I currently contribute to Mongabay and the Asia Times. and contract regularly to local clients looking for stunning lifestyle and portraiture photography.
Please feel free to contact me below if you would like to ask me questions or work with me, or head to my portfolio page for examples of my work.