Chinese born Don Hong-Oai spent most of his life in Saigon, where he apprenticed with a photography studio. He stayed in Vietnam through the war, before fleeing by boat to California in the late 1970s. While living in San Francisco, he went back to China every few years to create new negatives. He remained largely unknown until the final years of his life when he was finally discovered by the wider public. He died in 2004.