Rising Light: Tiffany Tran of Art Center College of Design
Tiffany Tran's life as a photographer began during her tenure creating editorial art for her southern California high school newspaper. The fun started when the newspaper's photo editor and staff photographer graduated, which left nobody to shoot and edit pictures, except of course, Tiffany. Lucky for all involved she quickly took a liking to her new job title.
One day while waiting in line for an ice tea she spotted a drop-dead gorgeous guy. She couldn't stop starring at him and he soon took note. Smiles lead to small talk at which time Tiffany asked if he would model for her. Turns out her new-found muse was an illustration major at a school called the Art Center College of Design (ACCD), and he encouraged her to check the school out if she was serious about moving forward with her photography.
By chance the Director of Admissions from ACCD was giving a presentation at her high school, which was enough to make her take a tour of the school's photography department. She liked what she saw and made the leap. In addition to terrific gear and studio space, Tiffany found the tight knit student/faculty community within the school to be amazing. Technical and creative advice and information is readily shared, which further encourages and accelerates creative growth.
Prior to enrolling at the Art Center College of Design she had little in the way of lighting experience. As well as she worked within the parameters of available light, her grasp and understanding of studio lighting - and specifically the various light modifiers, has dramatically altered the visual dynamics of her imagery.
Unlike many photographers who seemingly 'wash' the entire scene in a wall of light, Tiffany lights her subjects in a manner that illuminates her subjects - or select portions of her subjects emerging from darkness. Her photographs are lit in a way that guides your eyes through their narratives. Photography is about light and shadow and Tiffany Tran's photographs illustrate this point well.
Tiffany give's great credit to her instructors when complimented on her shooting style. In particular, she credits Pornchai Mittongtare, Ann Cutting, and Stephen Swintek for their critical input as she developed what has evolved into a sophisticated style of image making. She's also studies the work of emerging digital artists such as Nao Tsukiji, Instagram artists @zipcy and @meyoco, as well as many traditional artists, painters, and photographers.
Depending on what or who she is photographing and the availability of AC outlets Tiffany favors Profoto Profoto B1 Battery-powered Flash and Profoto D2 monolight flash systems and she's used most every Profoto light shaping tool in the school's equipment locker. She's not one for playing favorites, but when pressed she admits having a sweet spot for the Profoto OCF Softbox 2x3'. She otherwise uses the best tool for the job (or whatever fits through the door).
Some of her go-to lighting tools include, Profoto OCF Softboxes, Profoto Umbrellas, Profoto Reflectors, Profoto Beauty Dishes, Profoto Barndoors, and Profoto Grids.
Tiffany's portfolio is split between people, places, and still-lifes, and they share comparable levels of visual and creative integrity. When asked what she prefers to photograph, Tiffany laughs and refers to her business card which reads 'I Shoot People' followed by 'and Objects' in a smaller font. The bottom line is that she's good at both.
Something she does hold sacred is the desire to maintain a healthy balance between commercial work and her fine art photography, each of which feeds the other.
Having recently graduated Tiffany's plans are to continue to experiment with more ideas than she can handle. She recently traveled to Japan where she got so many project ideas that she says her head is exploding.
As for the drop dead gorgeous guy she crossed paths with back on that fateful day - they graduated together and remain good friends.
Products used in this story
The on location icon
The world’s fastest monolight with TTL
OCF Beauty Dish White
A portable beauty dish for off-camera flashes
Umbrella Deep White
A versatile and zoomable umbrella for a softer light
OCF Softbox Rectangular
A popular, versatile softbox for off-camera flashes