Banff elopement photographer

What is the purpose of life? What makes life meaningful? What is happiness? How long does happiness last?


These are those 3 A.M thoughts that I want to share with you. No it’s not photography related but I want to share with you guys anyways since it’s those late night thoughts that keep coming back and often steer me into the directions I take in life.

Being a critical care nurse, I witness more deaths than anyone ever should. I’ve seen young people passed away, old people passed away. I’ve helped with multiple peaceful passings and I’ve also helped with not so easy passings. From seeing what I’ve seen at the hospital, I started asking myself questions about life, wondering what my purpose is, wondering what gives meaning to MY life.


There are families that work multiple jobs to raise their kids, and spending quality time with their children is the best thing ever. On the other hand, there are successful, young individuals who makes more-than-good money but either wanting to or already quit their high paying jobs to seek for something else. I don’t mean to list these things so we compare between these individuals but rather to showcase that life is truly so damn complex and what makes someone happy could mean nothing to someone else and there’s no right or wrong answers.

When I was little, a new toy can keep me occupied for months. Anyone remember the Tamagotchi? For those Gen X or those who didn’t know the name to this toy, it’s a little gadget that has a virtual egg that would hatch and your job is to take care of this little animal, feed it, raise it, clean up. I remember that feeling when I woke up, I just wanted to finish breakfast or whatever else real quick so I could start playing with it. The minute I got home from school, I jumped on doing homework or whatever else so I could maximize the amount of time I could get for my Tamagotchi. A little toy gave me a purpose. A little toy excited me because I spent every waking minute thinking about it, obsessing over it, wanting to improve myself on it

Then high school came and I was in love with music. I spent countless amount of hours listening to “How To Save A Life” so I could learn the drum patterns. Knowing that my drum set can piss people off, I could not wait to have the house all to myself so I could just kept on playing and did not have to worry about being too loud. I made all kind of excuses so I could stay home alone and played my heart out. Then I discovered YouTube and learned how to play the piano. My fingers were moving and these beautiful rhythms came out. My passions to learn and to create allow me to escape reality, immerse myself into another dimension, allow myself to fully feel something more than the physical world.

When I was in college, I worked two minimum-wage jobs just to make enough money to pay rent. When you’re struggling to make money just to live, there’s no time to dream. I don’t know why but I went to Best Buy and looked at these cameras. I wanted to have a camera so badly but I honestly did not have money to eat (most day I had Jack in The Box hamburgers because a student I tutored was hooking me up). I applied for a credit line and bought myself a Cannon T1i. That was my first camera ever. Pre-Nursing was no joke. From working to doing homework then went to work, most days I didn’t get to have dinner till 8 or 9pm. And still, I could not wait till I get to finish with everything so I can play with my camera. I spent lots of time driving around Seattle at night by myself and photographed the city. I learned about long exposure and was so so so damn excited (There’s still an album on my Facebook that contains all these photos 🤣). In a world where dreams were so far fetched, a side hobby made me excited about life. It allowed me to distance myself from all the stresses in life even just for an hour or so a day.

Then I graduated from college and started working as a nurse. I finally understand what it’s meant to be “adulting”: maintaining a full-time job, paying mortgage, saving up money so I can go on vacation once a year. The cycle goes on and on. As I get to make a bit money from my big boy job as a nurse, life got a bit easier. I get to slow down, have game nights, try those “Wine and Paint” dates. I get to truly live life fully instead of “trying to catch up”. To me, this was the moment I knew “I made it”. No we were not crazy rich but we were comfortable. I had a stable career. I had a house. I had PTOs and 401K and all these back-up plans in case I get sick.

But something was missing.

I no longer felt those excitements as when I was little and obsessing over my toy Tamagotchi. I no longer spent every waking minute thinking about something, wanting to work towards something. I was no longer immersing myself in any passion that could allow me to feel something more than the physical world.

So although life was great, I was lost.

I re-visited my hobby for photography again and unknowingly, that hobby turned into a passion. I ran into photography again after one night working at the hospital where I helped a patient off mine pass. He was my age. I saw a lot of me in him. I had been taking care of him for weeks and when the diagnose of lung cancer came about, it hit all of us. When he could no longer breathe on his own, I was there assisting an anesthesiologist putting a breathing tube in him and placed him on the ventilator (breathing machine). While he was medically induced, I did not only take care of him but also his family. His mom always smiled and treated all the nursing staff all so kindly although she was worrying sick. His dad was quieter but he was always there, by bedside, next to his son. Around 1 A.M is often the quiet time in the hospital. This was also the time I get to learn so much about this patient of mine through stories and photos from his family.


So when he passed, a piece of the memory of him stayed with me. I drove him, unsure of how I actually got home since my mind was empty and exhausted. I sat down on the floor, crying, being scared of “When was the last time I was excited about something?”, scared of wondering “What does it mean to live?”.

After his death, I did not know what I wanted to do, all I know was that I want to experience life. I want to see the world. I don’t mean travel the world like what social media is telling me but seeing the world for what it is. Wedding photography was never the end goal of what I hoped for when I started this journey. Rather, it is merely a byproduct of that journey. When I started this self-employment entrepreneurship life, I knew nothing. All I knew was “It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings”. Keyword “TRUST”. I carry this quote with me everywhere I go with every single journey I take on: photography, workshop, travel, marriage, life decisions. I went in blindly but I went in anyways.

This journal is not a self-help article to list out step 1 – 10 or A – Z of what you need to do to find excitements or purpose of life but truly to share with you my story because no one really has this all figured out. Each and everyday, I am grateful for all my clients who came into my life and with their support, I am able to pay mortgage and feed my family. However, what I am truly grateful for is the fact that with coming into my life, my clients gave me what I was looking for in life when I started this business: a chance to live, to experience, to try new things, to steer away from being comfortable, to learn, to not only meet people but also to connect with, to find my inner self and from all that I want to be able to tell those stories to those who are willing to listen. I want to leave a a legacy, I want to leave a part of me when it’s my time to go.

Wherever you are right now, whatever you do right now, I hope are strong enough keep going. I hope find the courage to try something new, to color outside the line, to walk off the paths you think you need to be on. Yes you might fall but if you don’t, how else would you have known whether you’re on the right path. I think the cliche saying “Life is short” and the millennial saying “YOLO” are overly used, but there are a lot of truth in them.

“To the ones who still believe in dreams: Chase them. Chase them until you’re out of breath. Then, keep running”


If this blog post has helped you in anyway, I would love to know. Share with me in the comment below. And don’t forget to share with a friend who needs to read these tips and tricks.

Make sure you follow along to this blog for more posts on educational materials. For other wedding and elopement photography education opportunities, make sure you check out my workshop at Hey Darling Workshop and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel


Henry Tieu & Sergio - Elopement Photographers

Meet Your Intimate Wedding & Elopement Photographers

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *