hi, I'm Irene and this is my blog. all images and content © 2005-2019 Irene Nam unless stated otherwise. please do not use original images without permission. thank you!


in loving memory of
Oliver Yu-An Nam
Feb 1 - May 20 2014


into the sea


lessons from the field

if you're traveling to a foreign country, learn a few basic words and sentences before you leave (hopefully, there's an app for that).

always educate yourself about the country's history and culture.

invest in good walking shoes.

when in the field, introduce yourself first. forget the camera. connect with people. listen to what they have to say.

put names to faces. write them down if you need to.

recognize your own cultural biases and assumptions. let go of all preconceived ideas.

focus on the story.

be willing and able to push yourself beyond your everyday comfort zone. you'll discover what you're capable of, what you're passionate about and who you truly are.

when in doubt, take in all the information you can gather. and then go with what your heart feels most strongly.

be open. be curious. be kind.

Ken Burns: on Story

An Invocation for Beginnings

The National Press Photographers Association: Code of Ethics



last month I traveled to Haiti with French non-profit organization Secours Populaire Français to document the re-opening of two primary schools in Les Palmes and Delatte and visit two local health facilities that were devastated by the 2010 earthquake.

and though I've had to learn how to navigate daily life without electricity or running water. though I worried my immune system would eventually fail me. though I wish my camera better served and empowered those in front of the lens. and I felt frustrated at times by the arrogance and deficiencies of international aid agencies. I've never been more grateful, inspired, nor had more conviction about what I was doing.

more photos here.


the best moments in our lives

"the best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times... the best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile."

- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow


you're 10!

10 things I love about Sean and Will:

they are avid readers. like, total bookworms.

they always laugh before they tell a joke or a funny story.

they both gave up birthday presents to raise funds and bring clean water to Sarswati Peace School in Nepal.

when they're apart they always call each other on the phone before bed.

they love superheroes almost as much as I do.

they can transform any situation into fun play with a handful of glass marbles or a paper ball.

they still leave notes for Santa and the Tooth Fairy.

I can drop everything, grab my camera and shoot. and it's the most normal thing in the world.

they're the kind of friends who let you eat the last french fry and hold your bag while you tie your shoes.

they believe ice cream makes life better.

I love you my crazy little monkeys.

Happy Birthday!


how to have a fun vacation (ski trip with family and friends edition)

enjoy the view. I say it again, enjoy the view.

chat with little kids while waiting in line to board the ski lift (little Thibault thought I was so cool because I could name all the smurfs).

take lots of photos with your iPhone. and then find the one spot on the slopes where you have sufficient network coverage to share them online.

pause every once in a while to lie on the cushy, freshly fallen snow. just because.

have a raclette party at 11pm like it is the most normal thing the world.


x is for marking the spot!

I am most excited to host the SAJ's Stealthy Book Tour today for the launch of Brenda Ponnay's new series of children's books. I've been reading Brenda's blog Secret Agent Josephine for as long as I can remember, enjoying her creative projects, disarming honesty, tales of adventure in parenting her adorable daughter, and full commitment to celebrate and bring a sense of play to everyday life.

I can't begin to tell you how happy and proud I am.

Brenda once said she was a Parisian in another life. so here's for her.

note: all three books, ABCs, Colors and Numbers are available on paperback and in formats compatible with the iPad/iPhone, Kindle and Nook:

Paperback: Amazon

iPad/iPhoneABCsColors, and Numbers

KindleABCsColors, and Numbers

NookABCsColors, and Numbers

also, as part of the book tour, Brenda is giving away a print (26 tour stops in all, one for each letter of the alphabet) and today she is offering one 8x10 X for X-Ray print. just leave a comment here before December 23rd to be entered in a random drawing. when the dogs away that's when the cats play.


a little something for you (Paris edition)

a little something to thank you for your support of the Epic Thanks 2011 campaign which has helped raise enough funds to get a secondary school up at Shepherds Junior with at least four classrooms, restrooms, a well, solar power, a science lab, a kindle library/technology lab, a kitchen, enough beds for the school's first class and more!

I am so, so grateful for all the miracles you made possible.

thank you, thank you all so much.

download your free printable 2012 calendar here.


today, I'm happy

because I barely picked up my camera for the past 6 months unless for commissioned work and short family trips. and it doesn't really matter.

that I didn't get what I wanted in the first place. because it opened more doors than I could possibly have imagined, propelling me in the direction of new dreams.

that loading my Polaroid sx-70 with film makes my heart leap again.

because I walked (and had lunch) with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous. and have never had more convinction about what I am doing.

because even though his changing behavior has been most disconcerting and our relationship strained the past couple of months (and I am now wrapping my head around the fact that I have a pre-teen), my son taught me how to play chess last night. and if this isn't the most awesome thing in the world, I don't know what is.

b for bonnie


Paris hearts Instagram, too

new Instagram love: @bonnietsang @ericabartel @doublecap @monchouchou