NYFA: Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Trang Tran: My name is Trang Tran (people also know me as Trang J. An). Born and raised in Hanoi, Vietnam. I am among the very first students of the NYFA photography program (class 1.0 as we called it). I spent my second year as the TA for the courses. It was the best two years of my life. I’m now back in Vietnam, working as a fulltime photographer/videographer for Intel and also operating my own commercial photography studio on the side.
NYFA: Your father is a photographer. How has he inspired you to pursue photography and develop your own voice?
TT: Growing up very closely with my dad has definitely had a big influence on me and my passion for photography. I can still remember vividly my childhood playing with his Leica film cameras, having so much fun in his darkroom. My dad always supports me 100%. When I decided to put on hold on my career in advertising (I have been a very successful career as a copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather) and dedicate two years of my life for photography, and later, turn photography as my full-time job, my dad has always had my back and been a much-needed support system.
NYFA: What drew you to NYC to study photography at NYFA?
TT: When I think of photography, New York is always the first city that pops up in my mind. I was also considering other schools (SVA, NYU, etc.) but at that time, what NYFA offers (short term but hands on program) was what I was looking for. Plus, I got a scholarship from the school. How could I say no to that?
NYFA: What opportunities are available to photographers in Vietnam that might not be available elsewhere?
TT: Vietnam is an emerging market. What that translates to is: more shooting opportunities for young photographers. There are more and more global brands/magazines entering Vietnam. As long as you have talent and the dedication to push forward and present yourself well, the sky is the limit! Think about all those top magazines: shooting for Elle might be a long term goal for many photographers. That goal of mind came true instantly when I moved back to Vietnam.
NYFA: You shoot across a variety of genres, including fashion, commercial, and portraiture. Do you feel you’re time at NYFA helped you to master a variety of styles?
TT: NYFA has definitely helped me develop myself as a very well-rounded photographer who can feel confident shooting in any genre. But each photographer’s learning curves do not stop as soon as he/she graduates. I still learn/improve every day from each shoot/each project/working with each client/magazine.
NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that has helped you to acquire such an impressive list of clients that includes Elle Vietnam, AXE, and Aquafina?
TT: The ability to develop your own style (one that helps you stand out among others) and to build a strong portfolio that is appealing to clients. The ability to tailor your portfolio when you need to pitch for a project. There is never a generic portfolio that works for all clients. Knowing how to tweak it, and how to represent your own ‘brand’ is key.
NYFA: What was your favorite aspect of your Photography Program at NYFA?
TT: What I truly enjoyed the most is the close connection between our instructors and the students. It goes beyond class hours. Whenever I had any technical questions, regardless of time and distance, I can always ask for guidance and advice from my teachers. That is still valid until today. Also, at the end of the day, it is a very diverse program, whether you love medium format or digital, you love fine art or documentary, you prefer digital or printing, you’ll find what you love in this program.
NYFA: In what ways do you think NYFA helped you to develop business skills to succeed as a professional photographer?
TT: We were taught how to take care of the business aspects of this field: from how to develop as a consistent ‘brand’ of your own (building a website, business cards, leaflets, print portfolio, business registration, etc.) how to have a successful pitch , how to work with clients during the shoots to guarantee the best outcome.
NYFA: Is photography your full-time job? If not, what else do you to do to help realize your goals as a photographer?
TT: It is my full time job now. I currently work for Intel as a full time photographer/videographer.
NYFA: Where would you like to see yourself as a photographer in five years?
TT: Running my own studio commercially and still get room (to breathe haha) to shoot my personal projects/things I care and am passionate about.
NYFA: Any additional pieces of advice you would like to give to NYFA photography students?
TT: Never stop looking for inspiration and photographers that you admire. Assist, assist, and assist. You can learn tremendously when assisting other great photographers!
If you would like more information about Trang and to see her awesome portfolio please check out: