Richard Photo Lab

Richard's Photographer Spotlight: Caroline Tran

With each click of the camera, Caroline Tran unveils a unique story. From the "big day" to flourishing families, Caroline focuses on capturing the details of life's most important moments. She took some time to tell us all about her first film camera, going pro, and her mommy-minded pre-shoot ritual... read it all in Richard's Photog Spotlight!

Richard: What first sparked your passion for photography?

Caroline Tran: In my last two years of undergrad (as a Physics major), I took on an Art minor to boost my GPA... and as a creative outlet. My Physics courses were demanding and I didn't have enough interest to study any harder, so rather than studying more to get my grades up, I put time into "fun" classes in order to balance out my GPA. I took an intro to photography class in my last year and just fell in love. I was in the darkroom printing until the wee hours of the night when they closed.

R: Making the leap from photography as a personal passion to a paying gig is a big one... how did you decide to pursue it as a career?

CT: When I told my photography instructor that I was going to get my masters in education at UCLA, he told me that he taught photography extension courses at UCLA and offered to let me audit them for no charge. I replied, "Thanks, but I'm going to be a grad student... I won't have time for hobbies". It never occurred to me that photography could be a career for me.

While teaching high school Physics, I always dreamed of having a side business where I could be creative... mostly involving sewing. Through trying to sell my products, I had to learn how to shoot them—that's how I picked up a camera again. Then, when planning my own wedding, I discovered the world of wedding photography and I was IN LOVE!

Image by Caroline Tran

R: When you aren't shooting for clients, what do you LOVE to photograph?

CT: My kids, food, and our travels.

R: How do you find a balance between being creatively fulfilled and being able to pay the bills?

CT: Luckily, my clients come to me for my style, so I get to be creative for them. But, I also find that shooting personal projects keeps me fresh. I also think it's important to continue to show photos that I love, because it will then attract clients who also love what I love... which allows me to produce more images that I love.

Image by Caroline Tran

R: What is your favorite camera?

CT: My Contax 645... it fits my vision the best. With the manual focus and manual mode, I get to control everything about it, so it feels like an extension of me.

R: What's your first memory of shooting film, and why do you continue to shoot it as a pro photographer?

CT: In high school, my dad and I went shopping for a new camera and we were introduced to the brand new (at the time) Kodak Advantix film. I had to have an Advantix film camera and that was the first camera I had of my very own—most of my high school memories were documented on Advantix film. I continue to shoot film now professionally because it gives me the look I LOVE without having to do any editing—I hate being behind a computer. I love being able to shoot and hand off the rolls of film, never having to worry about them 'til they're done. And even when they're done, I only go through the proof prints, so I am rarely behind a computer.

Image by Caroline Tran

R: Why is it important to have continuous communication with your lab(s)?

CT: I see my lab as a partner; they save me time and make me look good. It's important to communicate with them so that expectations are clear, and things can continue to run in as automated a way as possible. I like things to be as automated as possible around here!

R: Do you have any pre-shoot rituals?

CT: I pump, haha! #breastfeedingmomproblems

Image by Caroline Tran

R: Let’s play a game of “Either/Or”! Savory or sweet?

CT: Savory.

R: Chocolate or vanilla?

CT: Chocolate.

R: Dogs or cats?

CT: Dogs.

R: Urban or rural?

CT: Rural.

R: Vintage or modern?

CT: Is modern-vintage an option?

R: Biggie or Tupac?

CT: I have CDs from both!

R: Warm weather or cold weather?

CT: Warm weather.

R: Early bird or night owl?

CT: Pre kids, a night owl. Post-kids, an early bird.

R: Crossword or Sudoku?

CT: Sudoku all the way.

R: Breakfast or dinner?

CT: Breakfast.

R: Batman or Superman?

CT: Neither.

R: Historical Non-fiction or SciFi/Fantasy?

CT: Historical Non-fiction.

R: Comedy or drama?

CT: Comedy.

R: Truth or dare?

CT: Truth.

R: What song do you listen to to get pumped up?

CT: Anything with a good beat.

R: If you weren't a photographer, what would you be when you grow up?

CT: I would be a creative business owner of some sort... maybe a travel blogger or food blogger would be fun.

R: If you were a super hero, what would your super power be?

CT: Freeze time, for sure! Time just goes by too fast.

R: What is your favorite word, and why?

CT: "Funny".