Today we’d like to introduce you to Tiffany Luong.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
This photography business came from an intersection of so many different aspects of my life – my love for traveling and subsequently, being invited into peoples’ homes; my fascination with National Geographic stories; my research into my grandparents’ immigration history; my interest in all things behind-the-scenes. When I discovered family documentary photography, it’s like all these pieces clicked from these seemingly disconnected sources and allowed me to do everything simultaneously – live alongside people in a day in their life; help create heirlooms for families so that grandchildren wouldn’t have to work so hard to know where they came from; to make personal documentaries for people who might never appear in National Geographic but have still lived a life worth living. Ever since my discovery of documentary photography, I’ve been trying to show people that this genre can be a modern alternative to traditional family portraiture – to tell the family’s or small business’s story, and to convince them that this “anthropological” type of photography is the way to go! I feel like I have finally come to a point in my business where I perceive photography as an introspective craft and art, in addition to a preservation service.
There have been so many different “starts” that I’m not sure which one is the true beginning. Perhaps it’s because I needed a creative outlet from my day job as an elementary school speech pathologist. Or maybe my business story started when I went to Honduras to provide speech therapy services and fundraised for my trip by photographing families in exchange for donations, and voila, I had a portfolio. It could have been when I became a mother, and all of a sudden, all the little things were big momentous things I wanted to photograph, to “live twice,” through pictures. Ultimately, it might have begun when my boyfriend-who-became-my-husband gave me my first Nikon DSLR (and an engagement ring) 2 days before I left him to teach in China for a year and photograph my way through 30 cities.
Has it been a smooth road?
Ha! “Hustle hard, it’ll be a smooth road” said no one, ever! Here’s an excerpt from a day in my life, as told to my Facebook friends: “mompreneur life” get a call from mother-in-law asking me to pick my son up early, finish reports hurriedly and run out of work, push phone call with USC Small Business Clinic, go to post office to mail 3 client print orders, be proud of my toddler for entertaining himself with Legos while I address envelopes, look up to find that the post-work rush has filled the queue and realize there’s no way I’m going to be able to wait in that line, drive home hoping my husband will be able to take over so that I can go to a different post office, call the legal grad student working on my contracts on speakerphone while my boy sings E-I-E-I-O in the background, get home and deposit child in the front yard while I continue my call, and watch him spread his legs and urinate on the lawn while he smiles and says ‘I peed on the grass.’ Guess I’m going to the post office tomorrow…”
So, as illustrated above, the day-to-day is a struggle in and of itself, and work-life balance truly feels like an elusive dangling carrot that I will catch – someday! Other struggles have included SO SO SO many marketing mistakes, managing client expectations, and getting enough sleep, but I know eventually all the dust will settle!
We’d love to hear more about your business.
My photographic storytelling style is organic, honest, authentic, emotional, personal, timeless, relaxed, and real, with my aesthetic leaning toward bursts of energy, humor, and a little bit of poetry. As a documentary photographer, I do day-in-the-life types of sessions for families and entrepreneurs/small businesses. For families, sessions are unposed, in order to tell an authentically true story of the family’s life and show them all the hidden moments as they occur organically. For makers/entrepreneurs, small business sessions are art-directed in collaboration with the artisan, to highlight and showcase their labors of love behind the scenes. I look for the unspoken, and the things that might typically be unseen, and my goal is to make photographs that make people return to look at them over and over, kind of like a song that you aren’t sure why you like until it’s on repeat on your playlist. I look for facets of personality (e.g. curiosity, bravery, warmth) and wait for moments occurring between family members that can visually demonstrate this. Although I’ve never been on one, I would liken documentary photography to going on a safari – one can’t predict where or when the action is going to happen, but I know that if I’m quick-witted, stay on my toes and am hyper alert, you better believe I’ll anticipate moments right before they happen and be in the right place at the right time to get those shots for my client!
A big step for my company was flying to Washington DC last month to do a documentary shoot for a family with a 16-month-old learning to walk, and a hyper dog. “I have a feeling that in 10 years, it will be the simple parts of our daily life that we’ll miss and look back on most fondly – helping our son get dressed, feeding him, bathing him, teaching him new things and watching him discover the world.” They did exactly all those things, so ordinary and every day, but their awareness of the importance of having this time be documented made this session extraordinary, because they made an investment and effort to preserve memories that could be soon or easily forgotten. I felt proud that I had found dream clients that completely understood what it meant to have a photo session that resulted in real portraits for real people. Here’s a link to their hybrid slideshow/film: https://vimeo.com/223003698
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Of course! LA is as good a place as any for starting a business in a highly saturated field. I know there are pockets of people out there who crave documentary photography sessions but it’s all a matter of finding them in this big wide expanse.
- Website: http://tiffanyluong.com
- Phone: 626-600-8433
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/tiffanyluongphoto
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/tiffanyluongphotography
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/tiffany-luong-photography-alhambra-2
Headshot: Alesia Hsiao
All other images: Tiffany Luong Photography