Don Hong-Oai (1929-2004) was born in Canton, China, and spent most of his life in Vietnam. At the age of 13, he began an apprenticeship at a photo and portrait shop. When he was not at the studio, he traveled and took photographs of the landscape. He stayed in Vietnam through the war, but fled by boat to California in 1979. He lived in San Francisco’s Chinatown where he had a small darkroom to create his photographs. While living in the US, he returned to China every few years to make new negatives.
Hong-Oai’s style was heavily influenced by the legendary photographer Long Chin-San’s technique of layering negatives. By taking three negatives, foreground, middle ground, and far ground, and selecting a subject from each negative, Don would construct a serene landscape. Each of his uniquely handcrafted photograph in its entirety is a concoction of the artist's imagination. He assembled and printed the photographs by himself, never having an assistant or master printer aid him. Don’s work has won scores of international awards and has been collected worldwide.