28 years

Posted in personal by Kevin Vu on January 30, 2010

working on my portrait portfolio with jana.  tarzana, california.

© kevin t vu

i turn 28 today.  a perfect time to look back.  a better time to look forward.



Posted in personal, projects, work by Kevin Vu on October 26, 2009



portrait session w/ ana-Lauren at her home. orange, california.
© kevin t vu

its great to have friends that are patient and willing to give you the time of day to photograph them. ana-lauren and i had a great time during our portrait session. of course, it helps to bring some good music and a chilled bottle of white wine. i shot these on a 35mm and 6×6 film camera. normally, i would look at the 6×6 frame and think that i ruined the image by not properly advancing the film. but i realize that the uniqueness of ‘flaws’ is the reason why film is still so amazing! you never know for sure until the roll is processed. you just have to go with it and make it work for your visual style.

i shot some portraits for a non-profit last week with my film and digital camera. i had a small softbox to a profoto 7a pack. it was a very simple setup. i used the the softbox as a side light and let the left side of the face drop to black. i had my 35mm film camera hardsynced to the pack and shot most of the portraits on film. i used the digital more as a polaroid to check out my lighting. it was the first time i used the 35mm konica w/ a strobe pack so i wanted to make sure i had some stuff on the digital as well, just in case nothing comes out on film. luckily i did that because when i got the roll of film back from the lab, there was nothing on the negative. i shot two rolls and it looked like the lab just processed 2 rolls of unshot film. so its always smart to cover your bases, otherwise you can easily lose some clients.

if you’ve read my previous post, you would know that i had an opportunity to move to chicago for work. i’ve decided to keep pursuing my work here. i feel that i’m starting to build the foundations here in LA and it would be a shame to leave it now. The biggest markets in the US are LA and NYC and i’ve made some inroads to both. For now, i’ll keep investing my time and work in LA.

I’ll leave you w/ some quotes I’ve been chewing on:

“If I were to encapsulate what anyone must do, it would be to have a vision of life and depict that vision.”
-Joel Peter Witkin

“Never apologize for your own sense of beauty. Nobody can tell you what you should love. Do what you do brazenly and unapologetically. You cannot build your sense of aesthetics on a consensus.”

“Never compare your journey with someone else’s. It’s a marathon with no finish line. Someone else may start out faster than you, may seem to progress more quickly than you, but every runner has his/her own pace. Your journey is your journey, not a competition. You will never ‘arrive.’ No one ever does.”

“Embrace frustration. It pushes you to learn and grow, broadens your horizons and lights a fire under you when your work has gone cold. Nothing is more dangerous to an artist than complacency.”

– Cheryl Jacobs Nicolai

creative outlets

Posted in personal by Kevin Vu on September 13, 2009


lauren being patient and letting me photograph her. santa cruz, california.
© kevin t vu

i’ve been fairly consistent w/ work this month and it hasn’t given me the opportunity to shoot any of my work. so i decided to do a quick trip up to coast to visit lauren and her family for a creative weekend. i had a great time that really helped me to explore my creativity. we created meals that told stories, painted, drew, photographed and i was able to just let go of all the pressures that i’ve felt for the past year. i had an amazing time and am absolutely refreshed!

i wanted to add a little more about creative inspiration. as photographers, i think that we shouldn’t put all of our focus on the practice of photography. i think that one needs different creative outlets in order to approach and understand the world and one’s place within it. for me, i get so intwined into reading industry magazines and blogs, i’m consistently on the computer for ours. and its unfortunate because the world around me is such an inspiration. and i’m learning to be creative in different ways, not just through photography. these other approaches, be it cooking, sports, reading, drawing or painting, helps me to interpret my place within this world and in turn helps me with my approach towards my photographic vision. look at the masters; picasso, leonardo, michaelangelo, bernini, etc. they all had different pursuits that helped them in their art .

keep on keeping on

Posted in personal, work by Kevin Vu on July 22, 2009

lauren in the garden.
© kevin t vu

living the life or trying to live the life of a photographer is not easy. one that many know, either through their own experiences or through their relationships. yet still, so many try to live it. why is that? in this economic state, is there still a romantic association w/ the job?

we were raised to have hopes and dreams and pursuing those goals is a heroic endeavor. but where do we draw the line and realize that we also have to survive physical existence. how do we balance between idealism and realism?

its a hard task to accomplish and some do it better than others. but those that can’t, what happens in the confines of the mental space can be excruciating.

so i make sure to keep moving. but sometimes i find myself idle and the doubts, confusion and hesitation creeps in.

that’s when i realize that i’m carrying a psychological sledgehammer, for those ‘just in case moments’ that i find myself in.

the ‘psychological sledgehammer’ is the community i am surrounded by. the people that help me to keep moving forward. the ones that get me excited about photography, about life. the ones that will help me in whichever way they can because they truly care about me. they recognize the times when i need to be called out on my self-loathing and the other times where i just need a friend. and of course, its a reciprocal relationship.

those are the people that you want to surround yourself with. (and that’s not just talking about photography, that’s about life in general.)