By 1975, thousands of Vietnamese had fled their homeland to settle in America, many carrying only a spare change of clothes and a packet of photographs. This article explores how five Vietnamese-American writers describe these photographic mementos. It contrasts photographic ekphrases with refugee images from the world media, while exploring postcolonial and other theories in this context. Photographs that cross the diaspora, and photographs hidden inside it, can exercise more influence than their material delicacy suggests. Vietnamese-American literary photographs should sit within contemporary visual culture: the interplay between these discourses allows the images to keep developing within the diaspora.