Kien Lam

Kien Lam, W’06, has almost settled down. Almost.

His photography business is varied—weddings, startup clients and commissioned projects—and keeps him stateside for six to eight months out of the year. As for the other months? He sets that aside for travel.

Kien Lam is a bit fearless during his travels,

Kien Lam is a bit fearless during his travels,

“If I know I don’t have anything planned or booked for a good month or two, I can take off for a bigger trip,” he says of his work schedule.

Where we left off with Lam, it was 2012, and he had recently returned from a year-long jaunt around the world. He had quit his day job in finance and traded it in for a visit to 17 countries over the course of 343 days. He took thousands of photos on the trip, and inspired by all he had seen, heard and smelled, he used them to create a five-minute, time-lapse video. It went viral (now with more than 3.6 million views). And it has, in part, led to his full-time photography business, which in turn has allowed him to feed his travel habit. (For more on Lam’s back story and what attracts him to photography, read my article, “Life {Wharton} Style.”)

Over the past three years, he’s continued to collect photos from around the world—he estimates the number to be over 50,000 shots—and, again, he’s crafted another time-lapse video to showcase 6,286 of them from across his travels through 15 countries. Lam worked with his younger brother, William, back and forth, to compose an anthem to go along with it (as he did with his first video).

“A big part of it, for me, was making sure the music complemented the footage,” Lam says.

Without further ado, here is the latest video.



The best results often happen when we’re not desperate for them. In Lam’s case, he created his first video to be able to share his trip with his friends and family in a quick, snore-free way. This second video is a “kind of a continuation” from that, Lam says. It’s as much for himself—from an artistic project as it is a way to promote his work.

Then again, it’s about his viewers too. He recalls how after his first video, he received comments from around the world thanking him—“long touching memories [from strangers] saying they know they will never get to see some of these places.” Lam also received notes from people wondering why their country had been left off his destination list. They weren’t pressuring him or berating him, but Lam understood their point: If you’re going to say you’re traveling the world, then hit every country (or at least my country!).

So to their point, he traveled to 15 more countries during the shooting of the second video, including New Zealand, Australia, Nepal, Qatar, UAE, Denmark, Nicaragua and Honduras.

Whatever happens with this second time-lapse creation, Lam is already onto his next venture. He wants to take the same concept—visually sharing the experience of travel—but to do so for the unforgettable experiences—the kind that happen when you’re in the “right place, in the right time and you meet the right people.”

“I have experienced those things a handful of times,” Lam says, and in seeking them out himself and recording them, he hopes to inspire others to do the same.

To make a sustainable business model out of the venture—find its website at—Lam is talking with potential corporate partners while also maxing out the site’s branding potential.

And yes, the end goal is to support his travel habit.


Enjoy Lam’s adventures vicariously through a sampling of his photography, which he was kind enough to share.


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