Britney Nguyen, who currently studies at UC Irvine as a third-year business administration student with a minor in art history, has a talented eye for the beauty in simplicity and everyday life surrounding her. She has developed her own website to share her talents.
Nguyen captures portraits of childhood delights, such as running into the ocean or riding a bicycle. Her portraits include families, relationships and people simply living in their respective communities. Featuring her own creative peers and friends allows Nguyen to experiment and advance as a photographer. Beautifully done, Nguyen captures nostalgia and what feels reminiscent of stills from family VHS videos. With such a keen skill to observe the people around her, she has created her very own online platform to share what her camera captures.
Beginning in 2019, Nguyen started as a photographer utilizing polaroids. Nguyen found polaroids to be an effective and effortless way to point, shoot and develop what was standing before her.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the entire world inside to reflect upon and develop their interests, which included forms of photography for Nguyen. As she began to evolve her modes of developing, Nguyen turned to film. With film, photographers only have one shot to perfect the image and cannot see the final results until they are developed, much like polaroids. Nguyen quickly became a pioneer of preaching “Film is not dead” through her comments as she revived the art in her own way and advocated for people to do the same through her own website and Instagram.
As Nguyen grappled with her own style of photography, she developed her own photography website by the name of Trâm Anh. Nguyen described its title as being her Vietnamese name and a “realization of authenticity and taking ownership of [her] name.”
Nguyen’s realization came about when she traveled to the south of France and a man had asked her, “No, what is your Vietnamese name?” after introducing herself as Britney.
“I had this moment when I realized I had never used my Vietnamese name to express myself or introduce myself as a person,” Nguyen said, “[It is to] share who I am with other people since I had never used my Vietnamese name in any setting other than my household.”
Her site is described as a safe space for her own work as she explores what is “outside of the country” and her interests as a growing photographer. Nguyen’s work is an extension of herself. She describes her photography as something that “feels more like home,” and as she shares what registers as beautiful in her eyes, she expresses artistry.
An important aspect to being an artist with a lens is knowing when and what to capture, especially using film. So when does Nguyen know when the moment feels right to take out her camera and shoot?
“[I capture] what I believe is beautiful in my eyes,” Nguyen says. Her photographs are as if she is “fixating on one small part of the world out of a large perspective.” Nguyen gravitates towards what people may turn a blind eye to. She emphasizes the beauty in the often overlooked delights of life, such as children wading in the ocean or a family holding hands with one another.
Photo by Trâm Anh Nguyen
Not only does Nguyen contribute towards working on her own site, but she involves herself with UCI Fits, a student-led club on campus that was created as a collective to share UC Irvine’s creativity through fashion. There, Nguyen finds herself contributing to the university’s community and helping students come together through shared interests.
She finds UCI Fits as a way to build connections between her subjects and those she can collaborate with. Nguyen proves to be an excited creator ready to push the boundaries of photography and contribute to the world with her gift.
Not only is she a photographer for the club, but she is creating a zine as well
“I am a director of photography in four separate groups. I was photographing a large number of creative people… [and was able] to meet with more models and work with other photographers,” Nguyen said.
As Nguyen continues to grow as a student, photographer and creative, it is a looming question as to what her next steps will be. Taking a step back to consider, Nguyen decided that going forward, she would like to work on more creative projects. Creating will always take up a space in her own life and she would like to continue with further endeavors, one of those being creating a documentation of her travels.
“I thrive to document a physical manifestation of my vision. I would like to do a travel documentary in Italy and Vietnam, with an appreciation of my own culture,” Nguyen said.
Not only is it a future endeavor for her, but it is something that has already been in the works.
“I actually recently created a little film on my website and I posted it on Youtube. It is about my trip to Europe,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen described her motive to record rather than capture.
“I would videotape what I thought was beautiful and what I would take with a camera.”
It is clear that her growth is present and ever-growing as she continues to experiment with other modes of documenting life. Nguyen intends to continue discovering pieces of herself and portray herself as an individual through her works and online site.
Nguyen is an artist who seems to have her direction laid out for her. There is a high anticipation in viewing her videos and an up-and-coming zine currently in the works. Stay tuned through her Instagram for her next projects as she continues to discover and introduce herself as Trâm Anh.
Lexis Pham is an Arts & Entertainment Staff Writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.