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Maryland Photography: Nhu Nguyen
When Nhu Nguyen was a child, art was an escape.
"As a kid, I was heavily bullied for being different," she says. "I wore hearing aids, had a speech impediment, and was diagnosed with cleft lip/palate as a newborn, which left me with a slightly elongated face and a large underbite. Needless to say, I didn't have too many people whom I was able to call friends."
So she turned to every form of art she could find--singing, dancing, drawing, painting. But soon enough, Nhu says, she grew bored with all of them, until she discovered photography, in the form of her family's webcam. When she was 12, her uncle gave her a digital camera--a point and shoot that was nothing fancy.
"But it was really something amazing to me back then since I was now able to see what my photos looked like on the back of the camera right away!" she says. "I fell in love with being able to capture things beautifully that people would otherwise never take notice in. The way I captured images back then was how I had wished other people would see me."
Nhu has come leaps and bounds from taking pictures around her house on a webcam. She's now an award-winning photographer who snaps everything from engagement pictures to family portraits to fashion shoots.
So what does it take to stand out in the industry?
"There are a lot of skilled photographers out there, but to me what really makes a photographer successful is having the ability to capture something people don't normally see," she says. "Spontaneous emotions or moments that would otherwise be missed. Photography is more than just knowing the right techniques, having the right equipment, and knowing how to pose/what to wear. It's about connecting with your subject, and creating something that is worth remembering."
And as a proud Marylander, Nhu connects especially well with her Maryland subjects and locations. She particularly likes the downtown Frederick area.
"There's a perfect mix of grunge and nature, and there are so many secret spots that are just perfect for either a high fashion shoot or an intimate romantic shoot," she says. "It's such a versatile and fun place that really works for just about everything."
But she thinks Maryland in general is an ideal place to be a photographer.
"Maryland is so diverse in its culture, but at the same time so unified by it's state pride," she says. "We are all truly a community here. Everyone knows someone, which makes for great opportunities to make connections and new friends!
"And not to be repetitive, but I truly love Maryland because of its diversity and statewide pride. There will always be a mix of different races, backgrounds, political parties—but at the end of the day, we can all just sit down together and put our differences aside to enjoy our favorite sports teams over a meal of Old Bay crabs and Natty Boh. (Not to mention we have the sickest state flag out there. No wonder we put it on everything!)"
Nhu says her favorite types of shoots to do are the engagement sessions--she loves getting to know the couples and capturing the love between them.
"Not one story is ever the same," Nhu says. "Most couples, if not all, usually tell me how they've 'never done a shoot before' and that 'they don't know how to pose.' My favorite part is being able to coach them into really just focusing on each other and less on me. While it is a photo shoot, I always try to remind them about the real reason why they are doing this—they are in love and they're about to spend the rest of their life with their best friend. By bringing out these feelings and reminding them of memories they shared, it makes for some genuine and intimate moments to be captured!"
See? If you're about to go get your photo taken professionally for the first time, you have nothing to worry about. The expert says so! Nhu also recommends getting a photographer that you--excuse the pun--really click with.
"Make sure your photographer is someone you can actually have a fun conversation with!" she says. "If you find that you and your photographer don't click, your photos won't turn out the way you want them to. It's important to be around someone that can help you feel comfortable. It doesn't matter how good the photographer is at their craft; if they don't feel like someone who could be your friend, how can they truly capture you in the best light?"
How indeed? Luckily, Nhu sounds like just the sort of photographer we'd be happy to get a few Natty Bohs with.
All photography used in this article was taken by Nhu Nguyen.