Ngoc Minh Ngo is an interior and food photographer. I first found her work through Martha Stewart and Blueprint magazines. Her beautiful photographs show her experience and training in classic black and white and color printing.
Born in Vietnam, Ngoc moved to California at the age of 12. She studied at UC Berkeley, majoring in Economics, but hadn't really discovered photography until she worked on an independent feature film and had to look at a lot of black and white photography books. The still photographer on the film set taught her to print black and white. It didn't take long before Ngoc also learned color printing -where she discovered she could take photography much further. For a time, Ngoc worked as a color printer for a photographer.
Ngoc is now based in New York City and has photographed for many magazines and catalogs including Martha Stewart Living, Elle Decoration UK, Real Simple, Blueprint and West Elm.
Here is our interview, for you.
01. What photographers inspire you?
So many. The first photographer whose work I was interested in is André Kertezs. I am moved by almost every Robert Frank photograph.
I love the work of Bernard Plossu. He used to shoot with just a 35mm camera and he would only use the 50mm lens, which is the closest to how our normal eyes see.
And then I discovered color and the first photographer's work that I found really compelling was William Eggleston. His colors were unlike anything I've seen before.
Adam Fuss's work is absolutely amazing and most of the time he doesn't even use a camera. And when he does, it's a large format 8x10 or 11x14 camera, and he makes daguerrotypes.
The lighting in Philip-Lorca diCorcia's work is absolutely stunning.
Another color technique that really inspired me was developed by the Fresson family over a hundred years. They are the only people in the world who do this. In 1993, the artist Cy Twombly did a series of polaroids of tulips which were then enlarged and printed by the Fressons. They were incredibly beautiful.
I look at so many things and everything interests me.. there are so many amazing photographers, doing so many different things.
03. How often do you shoot for yourself?
Not often enough. It used to be where I would carry a Rolleiflex camera with me all the time and take pictures wherever I went.
04. You are now a digital photographer?
I started out with film and now I'm doing digital and still trying to find my footing in a way, working with new equipment and new technique. I pretty much shoot digital 100% for work. I still occasionally shoot some 4x5 film for myself because I love that, but very rarely do I shoot film for work.
05. What equipment do you shoot with now?
Hasselblad or Mamiya 6x7 with a P30 back.
06. Do you use strobes to supplement your natural environments?
Yes. I definitely prefer daylight, but you don't always get daylight so often I mix it with strobe. If find it better than a continuous light source.
So many places, but some of the memorable jobs were in Italy --one job was shooting artisans in Florence... painters, jewelers, art restorers and the shoemaker with whom Daniel Day-Lewis apprenticed. That was amazing.
Another time, I did a travel job in Amalfi, which was an insanely beautiful place.
08. Any favorite jobs?
09. What is your favorite color?
I don't really have a favorite color, but I would say blue or green because I think those are the colors I see most in nature.
10. What subject do you like to shoot most?
I actually have more of an affinity with interiors. I'm very interested in design and architecture. In architecture, I started a project for Elle Decoration UK edition shooting iconic modernist architecture.
It's great to see all this architecture and a lot of this will come back with the recession because of the whole modernist movement --it's more democratic and functional. In a way, the modernist architects were very idealistic and socially conscious.
11. Is there a favorite magazine you've shot for?
12. Do you have any advice for starting photographers?
Thank you, Ngoc!
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