8 Questions For Car Photographer Viet Nguyen

Behind every great photo is a great photographer; however, it’s usually the car owner or builder that receives 99% of the spotlight. With our new Pit+Paddock poster series, we’re planning to change all that by passing the microphone and shedding some light on the talented artists behind each of our poster shoots. Kicking things off is our photographer feature on Viet “V Nguyen, a man I also had the honor of awarding him a photography award in 2016, which ultimately was the catalyst for him to take his skills to a whole new level. He’s now joined the Pit+Paddock team with a truly epic night photo of Jonathan Grunwald’s Mazda RX-7 shooting flames. Get to know V, and be sure to give him a follow on Instagram!

Tell us about how you got into photography.
I first got into photography through my uncles, who were photography instructors and introduced me to the world of DSLRs. I decided to pick one up through their recommendation just to casually shoot friends and family, but with my love for cars, I began shooting my own car and my friends’ cars. From there, it kind of snowballed into what it is now.

Who were some of your biggest influences?
My uncles definitely played a major role in me picking up a camera. As for other influences, the list is long and consists of not just other photographers, but friends, family, and other artists. I like to draw inspiration from people, art, and life in general.

I know it’s tough to pick just one, but which has been your favorite photograph to date?
This is impossible to answer! There are so many photographs/moments that have been defining in my life, but if I were to pick one, it would be shooting Dominic Le’s Datsun Hakotora. That is the car/photo that opened up a lot of doors for me.

How would you describe your photography style?
I think my photography style has a commercial editing style but applied to sport compact cars.

You’re currently working at Hoonigan doing design work… Can you elaborate on what you do?
Sure, I have a background in men’s apparel design and am currently a designer for the product division at Hoonigan. That means I help design and develop all the product ranging from t-shirts, hats, and accessories that we sell at Hoonigan.

Does it relate to your creativity and eye for photography?
I would say that my design work and photography are separate from each other. They each satisfy different aspects of my creative needs.

Do you have ambitions to become a full-time photographer or evolve into something else in the creative field?
If you would have asked me this five years ago, I probably would have said “yes,” but I’ve learned that I need different avenues to be creative to really be happy. I hope that in the future that I can have a role as an art director or consultant of some sort so I can have my hand in different aspects of the creative process.

Finally, walk us through the vision and techniques used for Jonny’s poster?
I knew that Jonny’s car was capable of producing some spectacular flames, so the plan was to capture just that. As for technique, it’s a blend of long exposure and off-camera flash thrown together into the Photoshop blender.

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