JRP: Please welcome Fashion Photographer An Le to James Robinson Photography Blog. Thank you An Le for sharing this time with us.
An Le: Hey James no problem at all, my pleasure.
JRP: Where is home for you An Le?
An Le: I was born in Saigon, Vietnam but I came to the US when I was 15 years old.
JRP: How did you get started in photography? Do you have any formal training or assisting in your background?
An Le: How I started in photography was completely random and unexpected. During the summer of my junior year in high school I was bored so I picked up my aunt’s Canon digital point and shoot camera. I played around with it and fell in love.
I did get a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Savannah College of Art and Design. I graduated this June. I concentrated more on fine art photography when I was in school. Fashion photography was only something I did for fun on the side. I haven’t really assisted any photographer. I love figuring things out by myself.
JRP: Name several photographers that have inspired you and influenced your work.
An Le: Steven Meisel, Steven Klein, Mert & Marcus, Tim Walker, Robert Parke-Harrison, Joel Peter Witkin, Edward Weston, and many more.
JRP: How do personal projects figure in the development of your vision and technique?
An Le: I do a lot of personal projects. I love literature, psychology, painting, performing arts, etc. I like things with hidden meanings and layers of symbolism and metaphors. Doing personal projects keeps me in touch with my inner self, my inner reality so that I know more about myself.
What do I want to be or be seen as … an artist. Once you know yourself and your own morals you don’t get lost easily along the way.
The fashion industry is very tricky so it is best that I know what I want and would not just do things because other people tell me I should. Moreover, by doing many different things, exploring with different medium and ways of artistic expression, I keep my mind sharp and perceptive as well as improve my technicality.
JRP: Do you have people who assist you with your projects and if so what roles do they play?
An Le: Yes! I always have assistants for all of my fashion shoots (not my personal projects, those I do by myself). I usually have 2-3 assistants for every shoot.
My first assistant is James and he is great. We understand each other and he knows what I want. We went to school together. He and the other 2 assistants do lighting set-ups. I mainly communicate with James and then he talks to the other assistants.
I also have a production manager or assistant to take care of people’s needs on set or just to make sure everything is clean and organized. My shoots usually on average have 10-15 people. It is always fun.
JRP: What would I find in your camera bag for a typical shoot?
An Le: Just a Canon 5d mark III and a zoom lens 24-70mm. I am a simple guy
JRP: What type of lighting do you prefer, artificial or available light? What are your most often used light modifiers?
An Le: I love light in general. I don’t discriminate. 🙂 I usually use strobes even when I shoot outside. Natural or available light is too unpredictable (weather changes, clouds, etc,.). My shoots are usually very high energy and fast paced so I don’t have time to wait for a cloud to pass over or the rain to stop. I love grids and diffusion.
JRP: Please describe your digital work flow and the software you use?
An Le: I use Bridge and Photoshop mainly. I don’t like Lightroom. I like to archive things myself in folders so when I transfer things or use files on a different computer anywhere in the world (that does not have Lightroom or Bridge), I have the files organized in separate folders just how I want them to be.
JRP: When you look through the viewfinder what is the most critical moment in the capture of your image?
An Le: It’s all about my instinct. If it feels right, then I click the shutter.
JRP: Name a shoot or project that opened your eyes to the distance you’ve come as an artist.
An Le: The project “The Sea” that I shot in Vietnam. It was a big challenged and I overcame it. It was for a competition by Bottega Veneta, Red Camera & Vogue and I won the award. I shot that project coming back to Vietnam after 5 years and did not know anything there. No real team of my own. I did not even know how to call most of the equipment in Vietnamese.
With the help of some of my friends we did it. I only had a week to come up with the concept, get the production together, shoot it (with the Red Epic X), edit it, and submit the finished piece. It was very rewarding when I finished it.
JRP: When doing commissioned work in today’s economy how do you maintain your creative standards?
An Le: I talk to the clients. It’s all about finding the common ground and understand each others objectives and end results. I don’t accept work that I don’t like to begin with so that eliminates unnecessary stress. 🙂
JRP: If not photography what would An Le be doing with his time?
An Le: I am actually slowly doing everything I want but mainly arts in general. I am dabbling in the film industry, music industry, and, the fine art world one thing at a time. If I am not doing something I want right now it only means that I haven’t done it … YET. For example, right now I am planning a big art show with my friends in a year or two. It will be super fun.
JRP: What has been the best advice given to you by another photographer?
An Le: “At the end of the day, it is just another job.” We were discussing art and commerce, making money from what you love. As artists we get really personal with our work whether it is a commissioned work by a client or personal work.
Sometimes things can get really personal when the work is changed, altered or criticized harshly. I always put a lot of passion and care into my work. To have a long sustainable career of doing what I love I have had to learn how to detach myself from the work after it is done. Just keeping a good balance.
JRP: What advice would you like to share with photographers?
An Le: Don’t give up and keep doing what you love. Perseverance and passion will pay off eventually. Don’t rush, and know who you are.
JRP: Thank you An Le for sharing this time with us. It has been a pleasure talking with you, and we wish you continued success.
An Le: Thank you!
JRP: To view more of An Le’s photography please follow this link: