Don Hong-Oai was born in Canton, China in 1929 as the youngest son to a business family, and was raised and educated in Saigon, Vietnam. At age thirteen, he began an apprenticeship at a Chinese photo and portrait shop. In 1979, he immigrated to the United States and settled in San Francisco's Chinatown.
Don began making a living by selling his landscape photographs in front of Macy’s and began to receive recognition for his craftsmanship. His style was heavily influenced by the legendary photographer Long Chin-San’s technique of layering negatives. By taking three negatives, foreground, middle ground, and background, and selecting a subject from each negative, thus forming one composite image of a serene landscape. All the various scenes in an image existed in reality, but each uniquely handcrafted photograph is a concoction of the artist's imagination. Each photograph was assembled only by the artist himself, never having an assistant or master printer aid him. His work has won scores of international awards and has been collected worldwide.