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Check out Tawny Tran’s Artwork

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tawny Tran.

Tawny, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
My start in camerawork began in high school, believe it or not, the spark of motivation grew because of a class I didn’t intend to take in college. I was always interested in photography, film, camerawork, screenwriting, anything related to movies. I grew up with movies that weren’t of my generation (thank you, Mom) and am grateful to have grown up in an environment where quoting movies and television shows isn’t shameful.

When I began college, I was at my lowest point. I had been rejected by every school I applied to and couldn’t afford to attend the ones that did accept me. I went to community college, where the first two years are (surprise, surprise) mostly comprised of general education classes.

Floating around brought me to a class that I thought would liven my already exciting (haha) college experience: photography. Mind you, I thought this was a digital photography class where you could take any digital camera, point and shoot and you’d be done with your day. Nope. It was a film photography class. Imagine my surprise when my professor told me that I needed a camera… that housed film. FILM. Where do I even start with film? I’ve never touched film before or even thought about working with it.

I came home, crushed with the thought that I couldn’t take the class. I remember my dad overhearing this worrisome conversation I had with my mom that I was sad I couldn’t take the class. My dad goes to the hallway closet, which is usually full of basic junk, pulls out a camera bag and inside was a beautiful, pristine Canon AE-1. Learning the aesthetics of film photography and the lengthy process you have to take, which is almost a rite of passage, to create physical prints is, frankly, invaluable.

Ever since then, I decided to look for Bachelor of Art Film programs and transferred to California State University, Fullerton to further pursue the art. I am a versatile and want-to-do-everything kind of person, so I dabbled in screenwriting, editing, acting, directing and ended up loving the production. Among many college projects, my last year of college landed an internship assisting the camera department for ABC’s Modern Family at the end of their seventh season. Since then, I’ve worked on independent projects, one that’s soon to come to light by Industrialism Films (check them out) and am currently working for New York Film Academy in Burbank, where I utilize all my skills to assist, teach and supervise many activities, student shoots and school events.

I currently still do photography, both digital and film, along with working freelance gigs assisting in camerawork/cinematography. My belief in this visual medium is to preserve humanity as it is: in its natural state. I love to photograph/film my subjects at their most natural. This is what I hope to inspire in my work.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I am a photographer/cinematographer. As I aforementioned, I like to capture natural states. I believe it is the most beautiful and pristine state to be in and capturing that is a special privilege to see. There are many ways in which I achieve these moments. I use natural lighting, I speak to my subjects in order to make them comfortable and never tell them to pose, as the opposite tends to end up looking already fake and disingenuous. I like to discover the subject’s hobbies, talents and likes, which helps with themes and to give a confidence boost. Often, these sessions that I do are for the subject’s benefit. Not only do they get photos, but they see themselves in a different and positive light.

We all have talents and hobbies we absolutely love to do, but sometimes we don’t get opportunities to show it. My work is a way for my subjects and for viewers to celebrate humanity as it is. We are all different, unique, and special. I hope that viewers and subjects take my photography as a way of expression, as all art does. In today’s world, with photoshop and CGI, we can often get carried away from the core reason we even partake in expressing art form: to tell stories. Our stories relate to what we love to do. Our talents are a part of us and we should celebrate it.

My brand name is called MMTN Photography. MMTN is a shortened version of Mementran: mementos + Tran. Its logo and name are reminiscent of a Polaroid picture, where pictures are forever instilled. I love the idea of leaving a visual footprint on viewers and subjects.

How can artists connect with other artists?
Reach out and create opportunities for yourself.

I have a long history of battles with anxiety. It’s a lifelong, ongoing and crippling mental sickness that affects everyone, some more than others. In my case, being among the unfamiliar is the worst environment to be in, whether it’s being at a party, in an elevator with another person, working with people you don’t know in a group, asking questions you want to ask, loneliness, the list goes on and on. This causes many roadblocks which then causes a loss of opportunity. Who knows what chances and opportunities I could’ve had if I had confidence in myself.

The hardest part of overcoming any anxiety is making a decision. Lonely people are often indecisive or unsure, and it causes more problems than benefits. Decide what you want to do and as Nike often says: do it. Don’t have time for a photo shoot? Make time. Can’t make it to a gig? Find a way to get there. Want to write a cyberpunk screenplay? Pick up index cards/laptop and flesh it out. There’s nothing you can’t do when you’re actively deciding to reach out and create opportunities for yourself. I guarantee you will find happiness. It’s hard, but it’s achievable for everyone.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I primarily use Instagram, which is a perfect way to share photography/cinematography stills. I have a personal and a business Instagram.

The best way to support my work is to share, to credit and to volunteer as a subject. I am open to all walks of life, and I love to share stories.

Contact Info:

  • Phone: 760.985.5587
  • Email: tawny.tran.mtn@gmail.com
  • Instagram: Personal: mmsiiku Business: mmtnphotography
  • Facebook: facebook.com/mmsiiku


Image Credit:
Raelee Dolim, Alex Anderson, Denise De La Cruz, Megan Collaso, Taylor Narasky, Leo Ramsey, Hannah Jennison

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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