Viet Ha Tran Capturing Emotion Through Photography
What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
I specialize in creating emotionally dense and endlessly compelling photographs of women; photographs, which capture ephemeral moments of feminine emotions flowing through time. Instead of taking photos, which reflect reality, I use the camera as a tool to paint women’s emotions, while creating that mystic world that exists between dreams and reality during the post-processing phase. As reality plays hide-and-seek with fantasy, it’s a reflection of those volatile moods etched in the permanent state of change. Due to my avid admiration for classic European paintings, I also try to add a touch of these Old Masters’ pieces to each photograph through vivid colors and a painterly feeling.
Additionally, my works are inspired by spirituality, philosophy, classic literature, and Persian mystic poetry. I guess all of this together is reflected in my works.
How did you first get interested in your medium, and what draws you to it specifically?
I admire beauty in all aspects, especially the kind of beauty that provokes and seduces you mentally, flirts with your soul and makes love with your spirit. What draws me to photography specifically is that taking photos feels like painting your feelings visually. Photography has such a unique ability of immortalizing that one moment in time that will disappear forever, hence it possesses the rare beauty of eternity and infinity.
For me, being an artist is a great gift you give to yourself – the gift of living your emotions to the fullest, of burning all your heart and passion, of exposing even your vulnerability and deepest fears into the process of creating art. In a sense, creating art and falling in love mean the same thing. True art comes from your own soul, your being, way of life and your desire of leaving part of you to the world every single day, and therefore art is powerful.
How has your style and practice changed over the years?
During the first years, I loved doing fashion photoshoots and working with professional models and teams. In most sessions, I was the art director, producer, stylist and photographer. I usually tried to create scenes and concepts adopted from my favorite novels, paintings, poems and plays. I’ve done over 100 photo sessions and worked with over 500 artists of different kinds (models, actresses, make-up artists, hair stylists, fashion designers, stylists, film makers, assistants). For the fashion shooting for Talents Shooting, Vogue Italia, I worked with a team of 25 people!
Lately I prefer creating spontaneous pictures with smaller teams instead of well-planned photo-shootings. In addition, I am more and more inspired by nature and landscapes, and I love to incorporate spirituality and Buddhism into my artworks. My goal is to make the viewers feel the inner peace, kindness and calmness within their hearts when they see them.
Can you walk us through your process? Do you begin with a sketch, or do you just jump in? How long do you spend on one work? How do you know when it is finished?
As I mentioned before, I usually work with well-planned photo-shootings, which can take up to 3 months to prepare. I like spending time to find the right models since I look for certain facial traits that go well with the “characters”. Nevertheless, the photos I get out of the camera are just raw materials and it takes a long process till they become the final product. I enjoy the post-production where my imagination flies without any limits onto the digital canvas. Some photos can take me up to 20-30 hours of editing such as some from the series “I FEMME”, or “Myths of the Beauties”.
When I start editing a photo, I don´t know where it will take me, I just know it when my heart suddenly jumps out of my chest when I achieve a certain color combination or effect, its something very emotional.
Who are some of your favorite artists, and why?
I am an avid classic painting lover. I am enchanted by the vivid colors of paintings by the Old Masters Rembrandt and Rubens and also Impressionists painters Monet and Renoir. I can get lost for many hours at Louvre Museum in Paris or Prado and Thyssen Museum in Madrid admiring the fascinating colorful paintings from those long lost times.
Who are your favorite writers?
My first degree at university was Anglo-Saxon Language and Culture, hence I naturally developed an admiration for English (also French) classic literature. My favorite writers include Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, the Brontë Sisters, and Alexandre Dumas fils. I would say my most favorite novels are Pride and Prejudice, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Manon Lescaut and The Lady of Camellias.