This week in the Creative Spotlight we hit the 20th episode and we switch gears a bit from interviewing artists to featuring a very young and talented photographer. Introducing Oni, a 19 years old woman who resides in Hanoi. She loves art, photography, make-up, stylist, hand-made, and all things beauty. We sit down and talk a bit about living in Hanoi, her portfolio, her love of Studio Ghibli anime, and photography tips! Read below for the full interview.
Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
Oni: Tiny and simple, that’s the impression people might have when they first see me. I love anything related to art and beauty, especially photography and fashion. Besides, drawing, make up, cooking, sewing, flower arranging and hairstyle are also my hobbies. Those are not really what I am good at but what I love to do in my freetime. Now, I’m living with mommy and my little sister in a small apartment in Hanoi, Vietnam. My daddy passed away 5 years ago but he was my first teacher who brought me to art. He taught me to draw since I was 3 and usually bought me books. Somehow, my childhood had a significant influence on my attitude towards art. Anyway, I’m studying at Banking Academy instead of an art institution to serve my mommy’s desire. Fortunately, my study in university is quite favorable, I only have classes a few days per week so there is still a lot of time for my passion.
Tell us a bit about living in Hanoi.
Oni: Well, I must say that Hanoi is a really nice and peaceful place to live in. I- my self was brought up here, but the more I live here, the more I find how beautiful it is. It’s a combination between East and West as well as the ancient and the modern. However, the most attractiveness of Hanoi is not a tangible thing that you can easily see or touch such as a building, a street or a boutique. It’s hidden in the life style of Hanoian or some quiet anonymous existing with the noisy life out there. For me, everything in this place has became wonderful inspiration.
You’re only 19 year old. With such a vast variety in your portfolio, where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?
Oni: Honestly, I don’t care much about the future and what I will be in 5 years. I faithfully love Linkin Park, and there is a quote from their lyrics: “I do what I like, and I like what I do.” so why not letting everything come naturally. At the moment, art, photography and beautiful things are my passion. I use my online blogs and galleries to share my photos and everyday inspirations which I collect from internet. Sometimes I feel so happy and encouraged when someone drops in my website and says that they like my works or does things I highly appriciate. So wherever I will stand in the next 5 years, I always try my best and have a lot of enthusiasm for what I’m chasing.
What kind of camera do you use?
Oni: Canon 450D or Canon Kiss X2. I have a part-time job in a luxury brand fashion shop of my uncle. So he bought me a camera for my work.
Photographers are often told that they need to develop a personal style to set them apart. What would you say sets you apart?
Oni: For me, one of the most important secrets to have a happy life is living in a simple way. So in my opinion, the most beautiful things are the simplest. I somehow try to express this thought in all my works.
You seem to have an amazing eye for light! how do you find locations for your photos? is there a certain time of day you know will make better pictures?
Oni: Actually, I’ve just enjoyed photography since the last summer so there’re many things I must learn. I usually do things based on my feeling. All my photos are mostly taken in my trips with friends. I luckily have some friends who share the same hobby. Duc Anh and Son like taking photograph, Nai is interested in being stylist while Hanh enjoys modeling. We often chose the places which bring us great ideas and inspire us. They may be a coffee shop, a boutique, a street, a corner in a park, garden, station, or freight yard, even a messy room, etc. Sometimes we go to the suburb or travel to take photography. I have learned from Duc Anh that sunshine makes photos more gorgeous and I myself experienced that. Therefore, the best time to have a photoshoot is when there is full of light, may be at noon in winter or in a summer morning, spring and autum are quite good. At this moment, the sunshine is soft, warm and light, very suitable for shooting.
They say that one picture is worth a thousand words. Tell us about your favorite photograph and the story behind it.
Oni: This question is quite difficult. Because photos are like my diary, each them has a story and special feeling but somehow I find hard to express them in words to tell you. So please excuse if my story sounds ridiculous. One of my favorite photographs is the Fun to Read Stories. My friend, Huyen Trang is model and Nai takes care of the style. There was a cloudy day and we felt hard to find a suitable place for taking photos. We were wandering and accidently I found an old balcony having a good view to flickering lamps behind. We brought many accessories to shoot, but I extremely loved my sister’s book called Fun to Read Stories. Yay, a children book, a little girl, flickering lamps, a balcony, in a cloudy day, I imagined about a little girl living in an overcast kingdom. Because people in her country didn’t believed in miracle, they were very selfish, cold and greedy for money, power and honour, God decided to take light away from the kingdom. Everything became grey and tedious. However, the little girl was still honest and believed in fairy tales, she always brought her favorite book to anywhere she went to tell hapless children. That made her always happy and had a warm smile like sunshine. One day, with her belief, light returned to the kingdom. That’s it, well, it is really hard to express my thought. I think that when you see and love an artwork, you may have your own story behind it which depends on your feeling. Different feelings have different stories.
Are you a big film fan? Have any favorite movies or anime?
Oni: Yes, of course. I’m a big big fan of Hayao Miyazaki. I can’t stop myself from watching Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke several times, again over and over again. An obsessional and miracle world coming along with a meaningful story and especially unique character’s design always reminds me about the Hayao’s style. Besides studio Ghibli’s creations, humanistic and academic movies also are my favorite and I’m planning to make a short film by myself in March. When listening to an inspirational song, some pictures pass by my mind, and this feeling urges me to make them out.
Lastly, any tips for people getting started in photography?
Oni: There is a very important thing that a beautiful photo isn’t created by a modern and expensive camera. A soul of picture depends on the photographer’s creative mind. Many people starting in photography think that they have to equip trendy camera to become a photographer. In contrary, whatever camera you use, you still can create amazing photo as long as you have a good idea. So if you don’t have money to own a modern camera, don’t be shy! Technology can enhance the quality of pictures but it’s nothing at all. Instead, collecting inspiration frequently can make your head more creative and full of idea. Your inspirations are not only photos, they also come from poems, lyrics, movies, music, news, stories, etc. After that, when you have any idea, you should note it down as you may easily forgot it. Some ideas are very obsessional, but some pass you mind very quickly, so catch it whenever it comes. Lastly, Photoshop is your efficient assistant. If you don’t know how to use it to retouch your photos, find some instant Photoshop action files, install them and after using them several times, you will have some experiences and here comes your own retouching style.
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