Shooting fashion

My wonderful fashion designer friend asked me to photograph some of her and her friend's pieces for their catalog. Of course I agreed to because she's my good friend, she's also talented, but most importantly, I wanted to collaborate.  They briefly told me the ideas behind their work and gave me lots of creative freedom. I do not shoot for fashion often so this was a great exercise to get my mind away from my senior thesis and to challenge myself. There were many challenges such as having 1 location for 2 different designers and 6 looks. But with tweaking and trials, we made it work. Another challenge was in post where I had to clean up anything in the background and make the photo look flawless. Overall I was excited about the outcome and the designers were pleased. Not sure if I could handle that industry but I wouldn't knock down any opportunities. 

I would love to show some examples of the work but I don't want to spoil the outcome of their catalog. Instead here is a screenshot of the editing I had to do. 

Designer: Kathryn Higham @K_highamdesign
Model: Patricia @Patriciamadeleine


"Maybe you should try video..."

Thank you to David Hilliard, Matthew Connors, Irina Rozovsky, and Laura McPhee for a wonderful and encouraging final semester review. 

I am not going to go into detail of what was said during my review but I will say I came in with writer's block towards my project and it was probably written all over my sweaty face. 

But they were like 'Nope, this is just the beginning so do this and that'. 

And I was like ' geniuses'. 

I found that in the past my reviews may have seem less useful as this semester's because they were either overshadowed by positive or negative comments. This semester was full of ideas to actually attempt and questions to ponder. 

One suggestion was to try video. Thank you to freshman studio foundation year, I was forced to take a video editing class that still does not make any sense to me. I get the record and edit part but the class was themed... and every class was too abstract for me. So I did whatever I wanted and I wanted to make a horror interactive film with no purpose. I did this with only  about 2 weeks to film and edit which was not enough for my amateur mind. So I forced my then boyfriend to be apart of this film and to deal with my odd impulses to only film at 2am where I am in a exhausted and anxious state of mind. Afterwards I also forced him to spend hours on to find oddly specific sounds that I imagined for specific scenes.

The video came out great for my first video made under pressure. Although there was parts of it that bothers me such as the camera shake and the lighting ect.... but let's move on. That experience was not too hot because my memories of lack of sleep, delusion, the constant question of what was I doing, and this prayers of an extended deadline. I fear video would take me back to this place. 

Well, let's see... 


Here's the video btw: 

Origin of Self - The Final Review

The end of the school year to an art student means final reviews. Final reviews is basically when you put your semester's heart and soul up for a final critique from a panel. Personally, I go into a critique thinking the worst but also reminding myself that this is supposed to help me. I also keep in mind that I am the owner of my work therefore I can ignore the criticisms I do not agree with. 

Days before the final review, I am editing in and out what I want to bring to my review. Days before my review I am also panicking about reaching the recommended quota of 15-20 photos. I only had 12 photos that I was completely confident about. Yikes!

One day before final reviews, I printed out small 4x6 contacts of my prints so I can sequence them and figure out how they were going to look in my assigned room. Ok, I'm starting to feel good. I place them in the back of my notebook. 

The day of reviews I wake up early and walk to chinatown to buy lychee, longan, and grapes. I like to bring snacks to my review to help people pass my 20min of torture. I get to school and it begins, 5 hours until my reviews but we are behind schedule because the panel never really stops talking at the 20min mark. Oh the anxiety!

During my buddy's review, I was taking notes for him. I guess I was note taking too aggressively that turning the page caused my contacts to go flying on the floor. I quickly gathered them together making sure that I was not missing anything that the panel was saying about his work. When it came time to hang my work, I pulled my contacts out realizing that I was missing some! This totally screwed up my sequence and edit!

Panicking, I had less than an hour to figure this out. Sequencing is important. To get this down is to have your work speak to each other the way you want them to. This is also the part where you have to take on the role of a psychologist and figure out how to possess your viewer through sequencing! (something like that). But here I am, on the floor, throwing prints at my friends and my boyfriend, winging the life out of me. We managed to hang it all up and even get my fruit nicely displayed. 

As the people start filling the room, judging my work on the wall, millions of thoughts and emotions are trying to figure out my opening statement. Am I scared? Yes. Am I nervous? Yes. Am I excited? YES! I was excited about my work and nobody can take that away from me! And this is where I get possessed by confidence. So I started off with what my original intentions were, what was my process, discoveries, where did it end up, ect. (It was all a big blur to me to be honest). But in those few seconds of silence after I finished, I nervously smiled and waited for the beating. 

Let me tell you my history with Nick Nixon, he does not remember but he was one of my reviewers sophomore year. He walked into my room, looked at my work and decided he was not interested enough to partake. So he sat in the back of the room and had a conversation with another student. Ok, fine, whatever, I'm over it but THIS SAME MAN IS NOW SAYING HE LIKES MY WORK. I could not believe it. He even said he wanted to take a photo of one of my photos to send to his wife.

I, Dee Tran, no longer fear Nick Nixon. 

The other reviewers, I loved. They read my work the way I wanted them to. When there was a slight misunderstanding, my teacher stood up for me and it was all fixed. Whata hero! They were all great and encouraged me to keep going. What a way to wrap up my junior year.

Origins of self is still a work in progress. It will be for awhile, there's a lot of discoveries I still need to make before I can wrap it up. People work years on a single project, so I don't feel guilty. 


Here's me at the junior exhibition with one of my pieces from OOS. I was too nervous to remember to take a photo at my review!

Here's me at the junior exhibition with one of my pieces from OOS. I was too nervous to remember to take a photo at my review!



Origins of Self


Project in progress...

A recent trip my parents took to the homeland, Vietnam had induced an epiphany in me. If I were to return to Vietnam, would I enjoy it? Of course I would appreciate it, but to have a culture shock from my own culture... 

I have become shameful of the lack of attention I've given to my own culture. Growing up my parents spoke Vietnamese in the household. They were still learning English. They encouraged us to learn english and adapt to the American culture in order to find a job when we get older. As time passed, my parent's English had improved greatly and my knowledge of Vietnamese had declined. 

Today when I speak to my parents, they speak to me in Vietnamese and I respond to them in half Vietnamese, half English. Sometimes we struggle to communicate. My parents have never complained about this but I know this is not something to be proud of. 

This is a project in hopes of reconnecting with my culture. My first step was addressing everything I do know; things I grew up with. I listed the foods, traditions, and memories that my parents have given me. My next step is to research, study, and document. 

Stay tuned...