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Life and Work with Jenn Nghiem

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenn Nghiem.

Jenn, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always been a photographer since I was in elementary school. My dad always bought digital cameras and the first one I used was a Sony point-and-shoot in 4th grade. It was only until my high school graduation, where I finally got my first DSLR, a Canon 60D with a kit lens. I started taking on small gigs, shooting for friends. When I entered college, I didn’t really fiddle around with my camera anymore, since I was solely focusing on my school and working full-time to pay for my education.

While I was in my 3rd year in college, I fell for this boy (now my ex-boyfriend) and he was really into cars and models. Instead of being jealous, I decided to use my past skillsets and started shooting cars and girls. That’s when my true passion really ignited, and thanks to years of amateur shooting, I was able to develop a stronger eye for this type of art.

Fortunately, my hobby then turned into a passion, which soon turned into a side job. I started posting my photos on social media, worked with several Influencers, and was able to garner traffic to my website. The models who I’ve worked with recommended me to their fellow influencers, and then I was hired for gigs. This was perfect because I would go to school in the morning, work at night, and do photo gigs during the weekends–I was basically working 40 to 60 hours a week, but at least for half the time, I was doing something I enjoy.

Even after I graduated college in 2018, I was still taking gigs on the weekend, while working full-time at a start-up company in Los Angeles. At around December 2019, I was able to land an amazing and dream career with a very well-established, global sportswear company. It wasn’t just my skillset in Marketing and Social Media that landed me this opportunity, but it was my photography and passion. Without photography, I wouldn’t really be who I am today. This has shaped me as a person, built my work ethics, and improved other skills, such as social media and marketing.

There’s so much I can do and so much to it by simply taking a photo–I’m thoroughly excited to what else I can do in the upcoming years.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Nothing good ever comes easy. I think to go through personal challenges, heartbreaks, failures, and thinking it’s the end of the world really shaped me to who I am today while using photography as an outlet. Even though college, family, and financials were the biggest challenges for me, I was able to have the small joys in life, such as editing a photo and feeling so proud of what I can do. However, this didn’t stop me from always improving. There were even times where I felt as though I wasn’t good enough, or I felt as though I was wasting my time working on a skill set that might not even land me a job. It was a lot of mental stressed and it took a toll on me.

However, if you can find a passion for what you do, you can truly achieve anything… I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self that “everything is going to be okay” or “everything will fall into place.” I believe passion, grit, and hard work are the key traits of becoming successful. With passion comes joy; with grit comes consistency, and with hard work comes perseverance. Simple as that.

I understand that one’s journey may be harder just because of their gender. Blatantly stating, not many women are in eSports or are photographers, or even engineers. I believe those stigmas and lack of expectations should push us harder to prove them wrong, or to simply prove to ourselves that we are just as good (if not, maybe better) than them. Doubts fuel the fire, and I hope to see fires throughout my lifetime.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am simply a photographer, who has worked in many gigs, such as weddings, graduation, debuts (birthdays), auto shows, and much more. But my real passion lies with portraitures. Portrait photography is extremely fun and I believe it truly challenges the artists. It’s not as simple as it seems; there’s so much more technique to editing, whether is it making the skin tone more prominent, or adding features to the images to create a story.

As for gigs, the most I’ve been hired for was for shooting College Greek Formals and Graduations. I actually started doing formals because of a fellow colleague, Bryan Miraflor. I met him through Amped Asia, which I was part of the team from 2016 to 2018. The best thing about photography is meeting all these new people, and learning different types of photography from them.

I believe I am a fairly versatile photographer, from initially shooting automobiles to doing weddings and working with influencers. I am also a very vocal person, so when I work with my models, I make sure I support them and make them comfortable when working with me. I also used to be a fashion show model, so I am also very familiar with posing. With all those traits combined, I believe this makes me almost the optimal photographer… 🙂

What advice would you give to someone at the start of her career?
Always work hard. Find your passion, hone your skillset, and never doubt yourself.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Michelle Dao (@thewickedlady), Jessica Lan Anh Nguyen (@jessicalanguyen), Caroline Vu (@misscarolinev), Y Nguyen (@ytnguyenn), Christy Truong (@misssuave_)

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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