Today we’d like to introduce you to Anthony Tran.
Anthony, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Growing up the child of a single mother, I ended up spending a lot of time at my grandparent’s house. Because of this, I had access to a trove of duplicated VHS tapes that my grandpa would copy from my aunt’s video store (what 80’s/90’s household DIDN’T have a library of pirated videotapes?). So, I was always stationed in front of the TV watching movies. It was also at my grandparent’s house that I got to sit for hours on end and meticulously study all of our family photos and home movies; enthralled that people (especially my mom who channeled her inner amateur model on various road trips and my uncle who was dressed in full Boy George regalia in some of the photos) can be recorded in these moments. It was all of this and also being raised on MTV that really informed me about the world and how images, whether moving or static, can evoke emotions in someone and create a deeply personal experience.
It wasn’t until High School that my friend began expressing all her teenage angst through photography that I knew what was possible. Up until then, I thought photos only belonged to adults who could afford the cameras that produced them. I was unaware that we were able/allowed to access them and express ourselves through this medium (oh the tragedies of living in an Asian household…). So, I went out and got my first camera (a Pentax ME Super). The lady behind the counter (of the Used Camera Store in Costa Mesa) was so generous with her time that she gave me a 15 minute crash course on how shutter speed, ISO and aperture worked. And after that, with all my notes scrawled on the back of a business card, I set out to snap and share what I saw in the world around me.
Fast forward to a few years ago, I was going on my fifth year at a fashion brand working in the Production Dept. I had finally mustered up the courage to request that I be put into the Marketing Dept, something that was much more creative and aligned with who I was. Good news was they allowed it! Bad news was, I got let go a few months later (no bad blood though). This was a little more than devastating (I had never been let go from a job before). But this was definitely one of those sink or swim moments. So I made the decision to do freelance photography. After a couple of years of real ups and downs and a lot of spaghetti (it’s really affordable and healthier than Top Ramen), I landed the coveted position of being the full-time Brand Photographer for Miranda Frye Jewelry where I now get to swim around in gold like Scrooge McDuck.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I want to say that the major challenges in my life were both cultural and personal. Being an “artist” in an Asian household was actively discouraged (a very tired but true story that is prevalent in most Asian families). So, from a very young age it was ingrained in me that what I really wanted to do was basically bad. It was all very conflicting and extremely frustrating. The ironic thing was that most my whole family are right-brainers. Even my mom is a very accomplished singer who has shared her talents with her community for pretty much her whole life both in Vietnam and here (however, it’s not her career).
So having this cultural conflict didn’t really instill a lot of confidence in myself and my craft. This led to the personal challenges. I think anybody who’s ever made something they thought was worthy of sharing was immediately overcome with Imposter Syndrome. I never thought I was good enough or that I deserved to be in this community (sometimes I still think that). It took me YEARS to finally be able to call myself a “photographer” let alone even consider myself (to some degree) a “visual artist’. And of course, this was compounded by my endless overthinking (took me several drafts of this paragraph to finally just say screw it)
Aside from these personal obstacles, the other challenges (which also involved my lack of confidence) were the logistics of the profession, i.e., working with models, coming up with rates, finding work, meeting other creatives, etc. Thankfully, it’s 2019 and there is a wealth of knowledge and support out there in the community so it’s a lot easier to learn how to overcome this part of the struggle. And I’m still learning. And I hope to never stop learning… And if you’re reading this, you shouldn’t either. 🙂
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m a full-time photographer that operates under the name “aaanthonytran”. The reason for this stylization of my name was cuz all the other “Anthony Tran”s were taken on Instagram 😛
For quite some time, my main focus was fashion and portraits (which they generally still are). However, I’ve been experiencing much more freedom with shooting whatever it is I’m drawn to with whatever camera I have with me. Pretty much going back to the basics in a way. It’s really liberating and I’m finding myself shooting more abstractly and experimenting more with whatever light is shining on whatever subject or object that is available to me in the moment (“Finding the light”). I’m always trying to do something a little differently than what my old self has done. I’ve definitely been much more happier with what I’ve recently been producing.
And as mentioned before, earlier this year, I was offered the opportunity to become the Brand Photographer at Miranda Frye. This part of the journey has been really validating and I couldn’t be more proud of where I’m at today. It’s super fun to incorporate product photography into my skillset and challenge myself to style and shoot these gorgeous pieces of jewelry in artful ways. This is when all my abstract practices coupled with my fashion experience culminate into the images you see on Miranda Frye’s social platforms and website. I’m so grateful to work with a such a great team. I’m very fortunate to be where I’m at right now.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Probably not listen to my mom so much (regarding the “Art-As-A-Profession” part) and start my career as a full-time photographer a lot sooner.
- Website: www.aaanthonytran.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/aaanthonytran