Meet: Randy Tran
MEET: RANDY TRAN
A: So tell me, who IS Randy Tran?
R: I feel like I’m filling out a Tinder profile! I am a pizza lover and a crazy fun guy who loves dogs! I was born in California, raised in Florida, and lived 5 years in Georgia, and now I’m back in LA! Beside photography, I LOVE cooking!
A: Was photography always a dream of yours or did it just happen?
R: It wasn’t exactly planned. I started taking pictures on disposable point and shoot cameras, basically whatever I could get my hands on. I grew up taking photos of my mom whenever we went on vacation or something, it was also something I’d just do. At first it was just a hobby, but eventually it grew into a great career and I absolutely love it.
A: Did you have any mentors growing up?
R: One mentor, Silvia Gunde. She taught me how to hold down my business, how to do taxes, and other amazing things! She also helped me build a lot of my network here as well.
A: So are you a Nikon or a Canon kind of person?
R: Canon. It’s crazy though, I still shoot Nikon at work but I like to shoot Canon. I have a 5D Mark II.
A: What was your first camera?
R: My first camera was a point and shoot camera, and my first DSLR was a Nikon D-50. I’ve always liked that camera but I broke my lens the first time I got it.
A: What was your first big break?
R: I’ve been photographing my friend who is a blogger, Eugenie Grey, for the longest time and as I was shooting I was able to pick up a lot of jobs and gigs through her. Through Eugenie, I landed my first campaign which was Coordinates Collection, it’s this accessory brand where they put coordinates on them. It was my first commercial project, like a BIG paying job. My career just went upward from there.
A: Is photography your full time job now?
R: Yes. I'm currently working full time as a photographer for a company, while still setting some time aside for my freelance gigs. I still like being more creative and being able to create different stories and whenever I can. I like to keep busy, the more I work, the better.
A: What is your typical day like?
R: I wake up and get ready for work at 7. While I am at work I’m on the computer looking for inspiration for my job. I also do social media now. It’s either emailing and contacting other bloggers or I’m just doing a full on shoot. Most of the time it’s less shooting and more background work, setting up for a shoot, and research. But when it comes to shoot day, it’s the best thing ever.
A: What are some tips and tricks do you have on shooting with a digital camera?
R: I would say to just go out and keep shooting. Play with what you’ve got. You can play with lighting, shadows, or even cool objects. You can use things like a glass cup and shoot through it. There’s always a different perspective that others don’t see. So just shoot, experiment, and have fun.
A: So besides photography, you said you love cooking and what do you like to cook?
R: Yes, I love cooking! It’s one of many great passions I have. I especially enjoy cooking all types of Vietnamese dishes. I used to work in a restaurant but it was just too much for me. It wasn’t getting me anywhere, so I stopped working in that industry. I still enjoy cooking now though, just not as a profession.
A: What is the average amount of clients you get while freelancing within, say a month?
R: It varies with Freelancing. It just depends. There are times when business is booming and other times where I hardly have any clients at all. You never know, it’s unpredictable.
A: Did you go to school for your photography or were you self-taught?
R: I was self-taught. But I did take a photography course once but the teacher somehow made me teach it instead, I don’t know why. It was weird but I ended up teaching myself.
A: Do you own your own studio? Or would you rather shoot outdoors/on location?
R: I used to be part of a studio called The Artery. They have a really great space set up, but I’m no longer a part of it that anymore. I do prefer to shoot in studio but, it’s also fun to shoot on location. It mostly just depends on the story and what the subject looks good in.
A: So who have you worked with/for, so far, can you name a few?
R: Right now, I work for 7 Diamonds which is a Men’s Clothing Company as their Art Director & Social Media Management. I’ve also have work for some magazines like Harper Bazaar, W Magazine, and Billboard, and others. I’ve also been able to work with a few celebrities as well Kris Jenner, Ashanti, Jenn Im, Kofi Siriboe, Amanda Steele and more!
A: What lens would you recommend for amateur photographers? What is your favorite?
R: The nifty fifty, I love my 50mm lens and definitely recommend it. It’s also a great beginners prime lens, the 50mm 1.8. You can either get up close or get further away to get the shot that you need and still get to keep a larger aperture than most any other lens. It’s also pretty cheap so it’s the biggest bang for your buck.
A: How did you build up your client list?
R: Social media is like the biggest thing right now, and it has been helping me get my work out there. When I do get a client, I pay special attention to what they need and what ideas they have in mind and try to execute it to the best I can . Client satisfaction is the most important thing. You want them to feel and be included in the work so that they would want to work with you again or they could possibly recommend you to other people. Shooting isn’t everything, you have to understand their business and vision.
A: Do you have any photographers that you look up to?
R: Yeah, and right now I think female photographers are killing it. Lara Jade, she takes very simple photos but they’re so good. There’s a Chinese photographer that I really like too, Chen Man, she shot Rihanna for Harper’s Bazaar. Then there’s also Yulia Gorbachenko, she has amazing beauty work! I do like a few local photographers too, like Grant Yoshino, he’s one of my favorites. There’s Conan Thai, who is a New York photographer. There’s just so many I can’t name them all.
A: If you were to meet any of them, what would you ask?
R: If I were to meet them I’m probably gonna be speechless, but if I did it would just be like, how’d you guys grow? I’d want to know their past, you know? What they struggled through, and let myself know because at this moment, I feel like my only problems is trying to get somewhere and not knowing how long the process is, and I feel like it’s an adventure, so it’s that moment where you’re still nervous cause you just want it right then and there.
A: That’s how I feel too! But you’re like, getting somewhere, I see your work, you got nothing to worry about!
A: So this is a hard topic, but do you have any tips on pricing? I feel like people now these days have trouble figuring that out, do you have any advice you would like to share?
R: It’s hard, I had problems with pricing when I started off too. I thinks it’s all about your self-worth and knowing where the images are going to be used. It's really important when brands reach out to you and they ask you for your price and you don’t know. You have to think about where these images are being used, is it just social media, is it just websites, is it printed too? Or is it advertisement, so you have to take all things into consideration. Especially when I had my first big gig, I didn’t know where to price it, you know, I had to ask friends. Ask your friends that are photographers and stuff like that, it’s not hard. Just know your self-worth, if you don’t think it’s that good yet, be sure to set the price where you’re not being used as a sweat shop worker, and know where.
A: Is there anything else you would like us to know?
R: I’ll say, if you’re pursuing anything that you like, be sure to persevere and just go out with it, do whatever you can. Don’t just say it, but make it happen. Actions speak louder than words. I’ve seen a lot of people say things and not do it, and I just think that’s it’s not fun or cool. But, always persevere, and don’t think otherwise. I only moved out here because I wanted to prove my family wrong, and that I can make it and now I am paying own bills, bought my own car, and all that at a young age. GET YO MONEY UP! LOL
CHECK OUT RANDY!