Why did I start making videos — a childhood dream and a Vietnamese notebook

I still remember the days when video cameras were a luxury. Growing up, I couldn’t afford one for sure. So, my early memories are captured in photographs taken with a traditional film camera. I remember having a box at home full of photos from trips with my family. But I also recall that I always told my mother that I prefer not to be in the photos. I took pictures of nature and animals only.

My love for visual storytelling began with my fascination for movies, and I still recall how I felt during my first visit to a cinema. It was 1993, and “Jurassic Park” left a unique impression on me. I was still at school and wasn’t allowed to go alone to the cinema in the nearby town. Two years later, I saw Goldeneye, the latest James Bond film. Later, I visited a cinema almost every weekend.

A really early picture of myself. Cameras had a low resolution back then
A really early picture of myself. Cameras had a low resolution back then.

I remember how often I stood in front of the electronics market near my home. Again and again, I looked at the video cameras. But they were still expensive. And I also had the ambition not just to make any videos but to edit them. Before the year 1995, such software was unaffordable. Besides, movies were still recorded on physical film. For sure, one of the most important reasons why I have almost no pictures or movies of myself before 2008.

Now, there is nothing in life that highlights just how fast time passes, like watching your kids grow up. And to see this, knowing what the next four years of parenting was, I guess, to look back, if there is one thing I would have done differently, I would have gone on more like these adventures with my boy. But that’s the thing. You can’t change the past. But I am glad that I can look back on this time. I can look to these video clips, and read this notebook.

Casey Neistat, The Vietnam Notebook

Then, times have changed. The first iPhones inspired me to take photos. Since then, I have taken more than 120,000 photos and videos. However, it wasn’t until 2018, while living in Hong Kong, when I stumbled upon a video by Casey Neistat on YouTube. The video, titled “The Vietnam Notebook,” resonated deeply with me, particularly the message about cherishing time with loved ones. Casey’s words are spot on.

Turning 40 was a milestone for me, and my friends surprised me with the perfect gift: a gimbal. This sparked a new passion for travel and film editing. With just my iPad, iPhone, and the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 gimbal, I could create videos without expensive equipment or software. I wanted to keep my memories, and I also had a young son who was five years old at that time. I saw how fast time went by, so I started to capture memories with him.

My first YouTube movie I made with those gadgets: an iPhone, my old GoPro and the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Gimbal.
My first YouTube movie I made with those gadgets: an iPhone, my old GoPro and the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Gimbal.

It has always been clear to me that creating videos is not about building a successful YouTube channel. No, I want to capture memories of mostly great days, which I can later experience again and again. And that’s why I started my YouTube channel and kept filming my hikes, trips, and adventures.

In the past 5 years, I created over 150 videos, most about hiking in Hong Kong, since very soon after my first videos the COVID-19 pandemic hit. But I also made a couple of beautiful trips. I was travelling 99 days after the pandemic and explored the Philippines on my Journey to Paradise. And I explored some places together with my son.

Experience does for the soul, what education does for the mind.

Casey Neistat, The Vietnam Notebook

I highly agree with that quote by Casey Neistat. While our kids are small, we don’t need to give them the most expensive toys. What they need are extraordinary experiences. Time spent with them, memories they can remember when they grow older. This way, they can fall asleep happily and easily at night – because they had a wonderful time during the day.

Meanwhile, things changed a bit. I am using either a GoPro or a DJI Action 4. I also purchased a drone and flew over 500 km. Furthermore, I am editing on a MacBook, and I am using Final Cut Pro for editing. But at last, the goal stays the same: capturing memories and enjoying the time while I am filming them.

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