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Meet Daniel Nguyen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Daniel Nguyen.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Photography was just something I wanted to do for fun. Took it as an art class in Sophomore year as a prereq to graduate High school, then I joined yearbook in my senior year of high school. Since then it was on and off, and I only took photographs of landscape and random portraits not knowing what I really wanted to do.

It wasn’t until I photographed a musician from YouTube for my school newspaper I was contacted by another photographer who later became my mentor. At the time I believed photography was about photographing sexy women and shooting import models on cars; my mentor taught me there was more to photography than that. She taught me how to be creative with portraits, and introduced me to shooting with agencies to hone my skills as a portrait photographer and to better socialize with people since I found it hard to communicate my feelings and ideas.

Later on, I met other photographers online, and we all skyped each other, trading experiences and techniques. I met my ex-girlfriend there, and she pushed me into the direction of fashion photography. She told me I could photograph creative work but have it styled for publications. Since then I’ve been photographing models from various agencies, putting together projects for editorial submissions and working with brands on e-commerce and for their campaigns.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Since we last spoke, it’s never a smooth road. There are definite struggles working as a freelance photographer. I feel everyone who isn’t a working freelance photographer underestimate the cost of being a photographer and what it takes to be one.

You have new photographers who want to make a name for themselves, so they follow a trend to mimic a “popular” photo style, some offer significantly lower rates, others are sometimes hobbyist and shoot for free since they already have a stable 9 – 5 job.

Certain people don’t understand the workload most photographers go through, the amount of retouching per photo and hours spent on the computer, most believe photography is just clicking a button and slap on presets for final delivery.

Photography gives the impression that almost anything with a camera can shoot anything, and that undercuts parts of the industry with so many photographers, it sometimes can be difficult to differentiate yourself from others.

These days followers and likes are what sets you apart from “good” photographers and not the quality of the work being produced. Brands judge you based on your following and decide if they want to hire you or not.

One thing for sure is that I’m definitely grateful to have friends who support my passion for photography and are willing to help me out when I’m in a pinch. I started taking on photography full time after I graduated and if it wasn’t for my closest friends having my back, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I specialize in fashion and commercial photography. I have a tendency to be creative with my take on certain themes, and I add personality to all my shoots. If there isn’t any personality in the photo how would it stand out?

One thing that I can say that sets me apart from other photographers is that I don’t oversaturate my photos with colors and go heavy on the photoshop. The only times I would ever go heavy on photoshopping is if I plan on compositing an image into my images. My photos are crisp and clean, another aspect that may set me apart is the level of direction I want to give to the model/client I’m photographing.

I have a tendency to get very specific and try to mimic the pose as well. Sometimes I end up making fun of myself doing the pose, and the model would laugh, but that’s the whole point. I want the person I’m photographing to get a good laugh and to feel comfortable shooting. I want to have this person feel safe and have fun shooting with me.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I would have to say stubbornness. It’s a double edge sword, but I have a tendency not to know when to give up. Sometimes things can look bad, and you’ll be forced into a corner overwhelmed with negative thoughts.

Being stubborn helps push you out of that corner and gives you a jolt to keep pursuing the dream. Strong work ethic is very important. Got to keep it professional, stay true to your word, and follow through with promises the best you can.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Blake Williams, Mei Lin, Louise Lee, Nelia Porut, Valerie Pham, Linn Winn

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