From Speedlites to the Speed of Light

05 July, 2018

Written by: By Allan Weitz

Anthony Tran recently graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Born in the south of France to parents who themselves escaped the oppressions of the Vietnamese war, Anthony knew he had a knack for 'seeing' back in his early teen years growing up in Chicago. 
 
 
Taking visual cues from photographs posted on social media sites such as Tumblr, MySpace, and Facebook, he began exploring the world through the viewfinder of a Nikon D5100 his parents had purchased for him. It was a pricy commodity for them, but they recognized his passion, and, considering he seldom asked for much of anything over the years, they didn't think twice about buying Anthony a proper camera. 
 
 
Initially, Anthony used his camera to photograph interesting light forms, shapes, and angles. Around the same time, he began taking note of some of the more interesting fashion photography he found online and in magazines. Putting two-plus-two together, he began photographing friends decked out in vintage clothes they found in local thrift shops. And yes, he photographed them posing with their bodies in interesting shapes and angles. 
 
Art was a topic seldom discussed in the Tran home, yet Anthony sensed this was a profession he could thrive in. He decided to pursue a career in photography and promptly began Googling colleges that would help him attain his goal - and preferably with a hefty scholarship to bridge the gap for what his family could and couldn't afford. 
 
 
NYU's Tisch School of the Arts kept coming up high in his search rankings, and even though there were highly rated schools in his hometown of Chicago, Tisch was in New York City, and Tran figured if he was going to do it, he might as well do it in the Big Apple. The feelings at Tisch were mutual, and the school offered him a handsome scholarship to make it all possible. Having just graduated, Tran looks back on his time at Tisch as an amazing experience surrounded by an incredibly supportive faculty and a student body that brims over the sides with talent.
 
Before entering college, Tran’s experience with flash was limited to a $100 on-camera flash he used dead-on, paparazzi-style. His 'Eureka' moment in lighting technique came during one of his first studio lighting classes when he learned you can soften light by diffusing it or bouncing it off reflective surfaces - the light didn't have to be harsh! He quickly began experimenting with every piece of lighting gear he could get his hands on.
 
 
"I started out using Profoto Pro-6 2400W power packs with Profoto Pro-6 heads, then moved on to Profoto D4 2400 Air US and Profoto Acute/D4 heads, (and recently) settled on using the new, sleek and compact Profoto D2 Monolights and wireless Profoto B1X battery-powered TTL flash with Profoto Air remote."
 
Tran prefers using a single Profoto Umbrella Deep Silver with a diffuser and V-flats, which he uses to emulate the lighting style of Annie Leibovitz, a portrait photographer whose work he greatly admires. (Leibovitz's portraits of Lady Gaga in Vanity Fair had Anthony down for the count). Other photographers Anthony looks up to include German photographer Peter Lindbergh and a few others. 
 
 
 
Tran's interests go beyond the limitations of cameras and lights. Being fresh out of school, he has been seeking work as a studio coordinator for a fashion production house where he could plan events and solve all of the inevitable production problems that come with the turf -  something happens to enjoy doing.
 
Once Tran feels he fully understands how to run and operate a business properly (and profitably), he plans on opening his own studio, but for now he's focused on learning about the business world while continuing to sharpen his studio shooting skills.
 
 
When asked to describe his dream assignment, he says it would have to be collaborating with his favorite band - Daft Punk, whose philosophies on art, music, and creativity speak to him like a source of natural energy. 
 
"Working with Daft Punk on any project would be my dream gig".
 
To see more of Anthony Tran’s work visit his website and Instagram pages.
 

Written by: By Allan Weitz

Products used in this story

Profoto D4

The commercial studio pack

Air Remote

Syncs and manually controls any Profoto Air light

Umbrella Deep Silver

A versatile and zoomable umbrella for a light with contrast