self portrait 2018


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Sophia's Baby Shower

Sophia's Baby Shower

In the middle of March, some of the foreign teachers wanted to throw our boss a baby shower. Throwing cultural norms out the window, they wanted to celebrate her pregnancy and offer gifts for the baby around the time she took her maternity leave.


Many cultures remain cautious around pregnancy and babies. They opt for a baby reveal party about a month after birth. But North Americans prefer showering the baby, through her maternal proxy, with gifts such as baby clothes, toys, and furniture. Men typically don't attend, but this being 2018, Sophia (the mother to be) being my friend, and my usefulness as a photographer, earned me an invite to the event.

The shower was held at the girliest cafe I have ever had the pleasure to experience. Partea can be found at 128 hoàng hoa thám in Vung Tau. First you pick a unique tea cup from a menagerie. One could get lost in the choices of tulip-petaled rimmed cups all fitted with matching saucers. Luckily, I found a cup and sauces set that made the right statement.

Next you choose your tea. The loose tea varieties are arranged on the edge of a shelf in cute glass bottles, corked, and handsomely calligraphed with the names of familiar and exotic sounding tea blends. 

You then pay for your selection. Staff ferry your cups and a pot-bellied teapot over to your table where you can then take mid-morning tea. As we teachers waited for Sophia to arrive, we chatted and enjoyed the tea. I got made fun of quite a bit because I didn't use the cup ring on my teacup and then I kept forgetting to put the cup back on the saucer. It never occured to me to hold the saucer in my left hand as a brought the cup up to my mouth. I felt like a savage American among English ladies.  


I used the opportunity to test out my flash. I used a 580EXII on top of my Canon 7d with a 17-55mm zoom lens. On a cropped sensor body it has the effective focal length that is roughly that of a 24-70mm (actually 27-88mm), which is a good length for events. 

I used the time before Sophia arrived to figure out how to balance the ambienent with the flash. Once I did that I took some test shots of my coworkers. The resulting shots were remarkably clear, especially compared to that they are used to on their phones. Confident that I could get the shot, they seemed more accepting of what I was trying to do.


The little pink signs on a stick were a great idea. The ladies had fun taking photos and the mood was so light and happy. They also arranged various games for Sophia.


The challenge was to guess how big Sophia's belly was. Everyone took a string and measured eachother to guess how big they might be if they were 8 months pregnant. Then they had to compare that number to what Sophia's size actually is. Hilarity ensued.


There was a lot of chaos and laughter. I could hardly tell what was going on. There was a minor drama the game wound down and the unwinded string was measured .


Thu is the love-able drama queen of the group. She lost the game which meant she could choose the gift from the grab bag.


Sophia opened her presents and loved them. It was so sweet to see her reaction. It was a day to celebrate her and make her feel that we all support her. She has garments and toys for her baby and the happy memory of us sharing our wellwishes with her.

The day before, Sophia had some of us teachers send her our baby pictures. She printed them out and brought them to the party. The game had guests guess who that baby picture belonged to.  Some were easier to guess than others. Debbie's picture as a little girl was easy for some to guess. As someone in the crowd put it, "Oh, she's naked and on a bicycle. That must be Debbie." 


Xenia's side-eye was not hard to spot.

Nha Trang's Wedding

Nha Trang's Wedding

VIDEO: Unusual Foods

VIDEO: Unusual Foods