A Mechanical and Industrial engineer by day and Street photographer at lunch breaks

My name is Anh Vu Nguyen, and I’m a 27-year-old mechanical/industrial engineer. I grew up and currently live in Pilsen, Czech Republic. As a second-generation immigrant from Vietnam. I grew up in a strict Asian household, where the pressure for good academic results used to be substantial. Therefore I had to find time for my creative side. I started to play various musical instruments when I was 13 years old.

The most influential moment was when I first discovered YouTube and started watching Casey Neistat. His cinematic approach at the time was mind-blowing and inspired me to go and explore the world from a different perspective of cinematography and photography. He introduced me to Peter McKinnon, who ignited my passion for photography. He taught me the basics like how to shoot manual and post-processing my work, so my attention shifted to photography.

It was merely a side hustle because my academic studies were my main focus. In university, I had to fully devote my time to my studies, and photography itself had to be on my sidetracks. When Covid fully hit, I had finally done my masters in industrial and started my job as a mechanical engineer. In my free time, I started to shoot more and more, and with the given time and opportunities, I started to do street photography.

I challenge myself to post one image every day on my Instagram page so I would go outside as much as possible. I started to shoot whenever I could, like at lunch breaks and after work. My passion for Fujifilm cameras came when I discovered the work of street photographers like Craig Whitehead and Faizal Westcott.

I bought my first entry DSLR in early 2018, a Nikon 3400. This second-hand camera taught me the basics and was my main body on trips abroad. Unfortunately, someone broke into my flat in late 2019, and that camera got stolen. My second DSLR was a Canon 550D, and I bought it like a 5th hand for 150 Euros in mid-2020.

When Covid-19 fully hits, and all the travel restrictions came into place, I decided to document as much as possible. This instance gradually evolved into my street photography work. I started to take this genre more seriously in July 2020, when I started my Instagram photography profile.

After I learned as much as possible, I decided to switch to Fujifilm in November 2020 and bought myself a Fujifilm X-T30. I’m currently shooting with Fujifilm for a few months, so my lens setup is quite limited. I currently own an XC15-45mm kit lens and a TTArtisan 35mm F1.4.

I did a lot of research, and the X-T30 was the best option for my budget. This mirrorless camera is one of the best entry-level cameras from Fujifilm. The physical size is optimal for Street Photography. It produces great images with a brilliant AF.

While shooting, sometimes I accidentally push the Q button. People with larger hands could potentially have more problems. Besides that, I often accidentally switch from CL to S mode while shooting in portrait orientation, and I have missed a few shots because of this.

My favorite out of the two lenses is the TTArtisan 35mm F1.4. It’s great in low light but a bit softer on the edges. Like all manual lenses, you can learn a lot by focusing manually. You have to think more about the composition, colors and light.

I learned everything that I know out of skillshare and Youtube. The biggest influence for me are photographers like Fan Ho, Vivian Maier, or Joel Meyerowitz. As for more current photographers, Craig Whitehead, Sean Tucker and Joe Greer. I love to do high contrast photographs. It could be achieved with light, color or the content and meaning itself of the image. I’m usually shooting at 1 to 5 meters distance.

I always try to shoot people at their best sides. To embrace and celebrate them. My style got heavily influenced by various street photographers on one hand, and practicing my own craft on the other hand. I’m gravitating towards negative space and high contrast images. I’m usually looking for the right composition and wait for my subject to enter the frame. My main subject is often a person, which is usually represented as a silhouette to keep them anonymous.

If someone catches my eye, someone with deep emotion in their expression or interesting interaction with their environment, I would actually do a candid photograph occasionally as well. They are quite rare, in my opinion. I usually try to be as unnoticeable as possible, but sometimes I do clash into some disagreements. Besides being yelled at, nothing really happened to me. I noticed that most of the time, people just don’t care.

My post-processing software of choice is the newer version of Adobe Lightroom. The user interface is more user friendly and more simple to learn. Also, the possibility to edit via iPhone or iPad is a major advantage in combination with the creative cloud. I’m a believer of minimal editing, so I usually crop the image and highlight my main subject through light or color to gravitate to it.

I do more specifically play around with the blacks, shadows, mid-tones, highlights and whites. To achieve my high contrast images, the key for these kinds of photos is to take a photo where you focus on the highlights beforehand. “If a shot needs more than a few minutes of editing, then you’re trying to create something that wasn’t there to begin with.” – Craig Whitehead.

I’m just a beginner, so I have a long way to go. I started taking photography more seriously since July 2020 when I started my Instagram page.

"My name is Anh Vu Nguyen, and I'm a 27-year-old mechanical/industrial engineer. I grew up and currently live in Pilsen, Czech Republic. "

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