Photography started out as a hobby of mine, a way to capture moments in my life. Not long after it became a passion, something I fell in love with. I’m still not sure exactly what drove me to the point of making a profession out of it.

In early 2006 my life was darken by tragedies.  Photographs and memories were all I had left to look back on. At the time I hated all the torturous picture taking, and now I treasure those pictures, looking back and remembering the good times. From those pictures I realized I wanted to create digital moments/memories in my life as well. To leave behind my legacy through my photos so to speak.

In 2007, I purchased my first DSLR, a Canon XTI 12.1 megapixel camera with the stock 18-55mm lens and a Canon 15mm f/2.8 fisheye. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but it was fun to just shoot on the green square (auto) mode. Soon after, the fun was no longer fun, the pictures were shameful at best. I realized I wanted more, I started doing research and reading forums. What seemed simple enough at the time turned into a complex complicated world and I thought, “Damn! I want this lens and that lens and that camera.”

My first big lens purchase was a used Canon 28-70 f/2.8L, my first and definitely not my last “L” lens. I fell in love, shooting low light and everything else it changed my world. I realized that if the lens was not a 2.8 or faster I didn’t want to shoot it. This was a nice combination to have.  I decided to pickup an external flash (Canon 430EX ii) and zoom lens (Canon EF 70-300 f/3.5-5. 6) for my cousin Kristen’s wedding. I remember thinking at her wedding, “Yes, this is badass I’m going to have some dope ass pictures.”

Kristen’s wedding was a good learning experience, I realized that my flash was all over the place and I was underexposing and overexposing. I did not realize what kind of power I needed on the flash and the zoom distances were all off. The ISO setting was probably jacked up as well. At the time I was thinking shooting 400 ISO would be fine. It hurt me to know that what I thought was badass actually sucked at the time. I was really hoping I could get some nice pictures for Kristen.

Kristen if you ever read this, sorry I sucked at the time. I’m glad you hired Gary though.  Gary was the professional photographer for her wedding, he passed down a lot of good advice and knowledge to me. If you are learning or have an interest in how to be a photographer, you can truly appreciate genuine answers from the professionals.

After I shot Kristen’s wedding I thought “this is pretty cool, I wouldn’t mind shooting weddings”. Once again, I did my research. Bought some books (Digital Wedding Photography: Capturing Beautiful Memories by Glen Johnson and The Best of Wedding Photojournalism: Techniques and Images from the Pros by Bill Hurter). Also bought a DVD series, Digital Wedding Pro Vol 1&2 from Gino Lucadamo.

Besides learning online and through books. I started shooting almost every weekend. I would walk through downtown LA, Chinatown, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, The Getty, and any event I can bring a camera to. I learned how to control the camera as much as possible. I soon picked up a Canon EOS 30D, upgraded my flash to a 580ex i, and bought a Canon 70-200 f/2.8L. My pictures slowly got better, I experimented with shooting manual while, at the same time, figuring out post-production on my images. I never expected to have fallen so in love with photography. My love for shooting started getting even more out of control after I shot a few weddings in August of 2008.

That’s when Ken Justice (www.bespokephoto.com), my mentor introduced me to Donald Norris (www.norrisphoto.com). Ken asked Don if I could shadow him through a wedding and see how it’s done by a real pro. Don doesn’t realize how much of an influence he was to me and I only shadowed one wedding with him. Don taught me the little nuances and tricks of the trade. The tricks I picked up made me a much better photographer, not just the technicalities of the equipment, but also running the wedding and the expectations of the day.

Without mentors like Gary, Ken, and Don, I would not be where I am today. I greatly appreciate everything they’ve done and the support they’ve given me. With the growth, I felt buying a Canon EOS 5D was justified. With my new 5D in hand, I shot my older sister’s wedding at Knott’s Berry Farm. I’m glad she loved the pictures and I had just started feeling comfortable shooting with the 5D.

On February 21, 2009 is when my wedding portfolio started attracting attention. I would like to thank Lluvia and Alex for this and for trusting in me.  They flew me out to Zihuatanejo, Mexico to shoot their lovely wedding. Their wedding allowed me to show all the skills that I’ve learned over the two years I was shooting. Even though their wedding was not all that long ago, I now and will always feel as if it was the turning point in my photography career.

Photography is now my love and my passion. So, please sit back and enjoy the journey through my eyes.

Tram Tran

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