HELLO, EVERYONE! (Cyber hug) I’m Andy To! My family always told me no matter how far I go in life, to never forget where I came from. Their story started with being rescued by the Hong Kong coast guards while escaping the Vietnam War in the 1970’s. My memories start with being raised by my grandparents in East Oakland, California. I grew up in a rough part of town where I was exposed to violence, gangs, drugs, and a whole other list of bad things that I don’t want to include. I don’t take it for granted though. It taught me to see the beauty in all things and to never pass judgment. Although we didn’t have much, my grandparents took pride in giving back to the community every chance they got. My grandfather would document their journeys back to Saigon using his Sony Hi-8 camcorder visiting the local orphanages. When he brought the footage back we would watch it together and this taught me the art of story telling.
When I was thirteen my life fell apart. My grandfather passing away transitioned me into the darkest year of my life. I dropped out of high school, started hanging out with the wrong crowd, and ran into some problems with the law. After being offered a second chance of life by a police officer on Christmas Day I decided to turn my life around. I enrolled myself back into school where I was introduced to film making. The camera gave me a new voice. It changed my life and allowed me to tell my story. Even through the toughest times, I learned at an early age to not stress off of things that were out of my control. As long as you focus on whats right in front of you at the best of your ability that you’ll go somewhere.
I used to take photos on a point and shoot that I borrowed from my uncle, I also borrowed some other cameras and gear from my friends along the way. Speaking of friends, by the way, I have to pay tribute to the friends I’ve met in my life. I’m proud to say if it wasn’t for you guys I wouldn’t be an ambassador for Sony. The same company my grandfather once used.
I could tell you about that moment I figured out creating videos and photos was my calling but that’s a longer story. On my journey, I went to a university and learned some fundamentals about multimedia and photography. Oh yeah, I received a bachelors degree in the end but what I valued most were the friends and relationships. That to me is priceless.
At the end of the day, the reason why I create is because it’s given me a gateway away from my problems when I was a kid. When I’m creating, everything around me is bliss. Nowadays I'm traveling the world and creating content for the greater good. I've dedicated my life to film making and spreading positivity.
Countries I've traveled to
[Asia] Abu Dhabi, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Qatar, Thailand, U.A.E, Vietnam
[North America] Canada, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Nicaragua
[South America] Bolivia, Peru
[Africa] South Africa
[Europe] Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain