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


a personal project

in the fall of 2011, I started a small workgroup with ten fourth graders from Sean and Will's school to help them engage with the world in new ways and realize that they can make a difference. the kids grew passionately concerned about the global water crisis and soon partnered with Sarswati Peace School in Arupokhari, Nepal, selling handmade greeting cards, organizing a tombola and giving up birthday gifts to raise funds and help provide the students and local community with safe drinking water.

a few weeks later, I developed an idea for a photo collaboration with the students from Sarswati Peace School where children in France and Nepal would capture and share images from their daily lives following six simple prompts: what I eat, animals, my school, where I sleep, where I shop and where I live. 

at first, it seemed fairly easy. but it turned out to be much harder than I had expected. and I spent many days sitting on my living-room floor sorting through hundreds of photos wishing I had done things differently. but then I would look at the kids and remember their boundless enthusiasm as they all leaped at the chance to do something for others. and that helped me keep going. the project was sponsored by French non-profit organization Secours Populaire Français and eventually raised more than $6.500, bringing clean water to the 200 students of Sarswati Peace School and to the local community of 300+ people.

the photos were recently on exhibit at École Élémentaire Paris in Boulogne, France.

you can see them here.


the mandatory "gazing into the ocean" Polaroid shot

more "gazing into the ocean" Polaroid shots: the stalker and the dreamerend of summeranythingDeauvilleDjerba, Tunisia and Saint-Malo.


how to have a fun vacation (Atlantic coast edition)

always keep the Polaroid camera with you. and shoot like it was the very first time.

wear sun cream all the time no matter the unpredictable, changeable, and sometimes wet weather.

take full advantage of dedicated bike lanes and paths, even if your butt says otherwise.

schedule a do-nothing day (you'll thank me later).

drive to La Tremblade, take a seat at La Bonne Renommée and try éclades de moules.


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.