friday feature: ngoc minh ngo

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.



02. Where else do you find inspiration?
I haven't always been a photographer. I was always interested in words first, so I read a lot. I look at everything. I have a friend, Tamar Mogendorff, who makes these beautiful handmade objects. I have the privilege of photographing these things for her, and I am so inspired by what she does. I'm inspired by any creative work that other people do, whether it is music, literature, film... it's all very inspirational.



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.



07. Where have you traveled for work?
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?
It's hard to say which would be my favorite. The nice thing about the kind of photography I've done is the ability to go to different places and learn what people do.



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?
It's always great to work with friends and I have friends who are Art Directors, food stylists, etc. Basically to be able to spend time with people you love is a real bonus. I shot a job for Martha Stewart Living, and Susie Theodorou did the food styling and my friend Scot Schy art directed. We shot at my house with mom and all my sisters, and we all had a great time. I did
another food project with Frances Boswell --a fantastic food editor. Frances and her mother-in-law wrote a children's food cookbook called Food Adventures. We shot our children and other friends' children in our houses. Again, it was a really wonderful experience.



12. Do you have any advice for starting photographers?
Look at everything. I think my advice to a young photographer is to really develop yourself as a person. To be a really great photographer, you have to have a point of view--something from yourself that will distinguish you from someone else. These days everyone is running around with the same camera, doing the same thing whereas in the past photographers had a greater range of cameras and films from which to develop their own vocabulary. So I think it doubly important now for a personal point of view, to have things that come from within. Also, I think for people interested in photography, the history of photography is so amazing. It's a wealth of material from which to learn.



Thank you, Ngoc!

For all you readers, comment below by Monday at midnight for a chance to win a copy of Food Adventures!

add to sk*rt

119 comments:

Kara said...

Good job on the interview, her pictures are gorgeous!

AlliSMiles said...

is this where i comment to enter? yes, please!

Randi said...

What lovely images!

carin davis said...

the light is exquisite in every image! very interesting interview. thank you!

Jessica Pages said...

love her images and your features!

Fancy Nancy Chronicles said...

love your blog, and the Photographer of the week!

The Jensen Kids said...

This was a great interview! I learned a lot. I especially like #12. Love it!

Ariel said...

Amazing work...she is one lucky lady!!

emily said...

This series is so fascinating. I don't know anything about photography but have loved learning about it through other photographers eyes/experiences. I hadn't ever heard of Fresson but just looked over the link and it's so interesting. Thanks for this fun series!

las dos manchas said...

Gorgeous! I'm in awe.

Heather said...

I love reading about all these professionals and becoming inspired. It's the only way in my busy three-kid schedule I can be exposed to new ideas/techniques in an easily accessible format! Thanks for the series.

Kate said...

A wonderful interview with gorgeous photos. Thank you for sharing.

KK said...

Oh my gosh, how fantastic.

It looks like she did work for the fabulous Jamie Drake.

Karey said...

I'm in. Love the blog. The book sounds great. Hope I win!

Lindsay M said...

I love these interviews! Each person is so individual and inspiring.

"Food Adventures" looks like a wonderful book!

Two Mittens said...

I really enjoy your interviews!
So much beauty to enjoy and be inspired by.

Jan said...

I think that is such a good point to have your own point of view that will define you from other photographers. I don't like cookie cutter photography.

Thanks for doing these, Nicole :) They're very interesting!

Sals said...

OMGsh! I love her work...I don't think I've ever seen her work before but I loved the pictures you showed here...I'm absolutely loving these interviews, they're teaching me so much about other photographers that I would never have heard of before! Thank you!!!

Sugar Plum said...

Thanks so much for the interview... so amazing she didn't start out as a photographer. Love her work!

jen said...

great interview! her work is lovely and so inspiring.

Lauren's blog said...

I think it's so interesting that she didn't become involved in photography until later in life. Her work is beautiful!

Rie said...

i enjoy your friday features so much, thank you.

the purcells said...

great interview - definitely familiar with her work and would love to see that book!

Stacey Sargent said...

Her advice for young photographers is true and very insightful. Love the last photo so much...the colors are amazing!

anita said...

thanks for sharing! appreciate the insights

brandi p said...

thanks so much for doing these features... I find them so inspirational!

petitfoodie said...

i LOVE how you get the opportunity to interview all these amazing people. Its really great. I love your site nicole.

monica said...

What beautiful pictures! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!
www.livinglargeonless.com

Janie said...

Ooh pick me pick me! It looks like a fabulous book.

chelsea said...

love her work.

miss britt said...

after my Philosophy of Food class, stuff like this became SO interesting. pick me!

amy said...

i would love to have this cookbook. My littles are always wanting something new for dinner :)

Jourdan said...

Sign me up!

Anna said...

I'm really loving these interviews.

tarable said...

I am very impressed with how well-rounded and versatile Ngoc has become. I aspire to as much in my own life, though not through photography.

The Mr. and the Mrs. said...

I love learning about how people find inspiration and beauty in things. Everybody sees things differently and that is one of the things I love about photography!! This magazine looks great!!

holly rasmussen said...

food is always an adventure!

BrudFam said...

Loved reading about Ngoc and her beautiful photography! And the cookbook looks wonderful! We love eating outside the usual "mac and cheese" routine and going for the more adventurous options. So this cookbook is in my future! It's a great deal on Amazon if I don't win it here! Thanks.

becky said...

great inspiration. thank you!

threelittlebirds said...

love hearing from all these amazing photographers, about their lives and how/why they shoot the way they do. so much to learn from their perspectives. Ngoc is amazing, thanks Nicole.

Jill said...

She really is inspiring. That book looks wonderful.

debby said...

hope i win! i would love having this book.

A & C said...

have loved the interviews! thanks sussy!

Shanicherie said...

I love books like this! And what beautiful pictures!
Shannon P

lejardengirl said...

she is wonderful with her eye and you do a great job interviewing..hope I win the book...thanks

MMW said...

Very wonderful interview questions - lots of great advice for those of us just starting out. Food Adventures also sounds like a great book. Thanks for the giveaway.

sheena said...

thank you so much for doing these interviews!! her work is beautiful!

erin said...

inspired interview. her pictures are fantastic!

Aubrey said...

Neat! Love her images!

Chelsea said...

great advice/information. pictures add so much to an interview - really paint the person that much better.

abby said...

Have I mentioned I love these interviews. Thanks so much!

Brooke said...

Put my name in the hat :)

Lindsay Willman said...

ooo...count me in too!!
thanks for the chance.

xo.

megan... said...

me too !

brenda barrett-taylor said...

i don't know how you do all you do, nicole. these interviews are amazing, i love reading them. Ngoc's photos are so beautiful and the book looks so lovely. i hope i'm not to late to be considered...

Faith said...

Great feature and the book sounds really fun.

Tyra said...

I loved her advice for new photographers!

DizzyLizzy said...

love her work.
love your blog.

Wright Life said...

Ooooh, I love her pictures! So pretty!

cindy : quaint said...

i learn so much from these interviews and it's great get to know about the person behind the camera. i love her work. thanks!

Erin Masi said...

Love the picture with the lanterns!

ellen said...

Interesting interview and her photos are great.

Plain Jane said...

Food and photography, I love!! If only I could shoot as well as she does.

Maman Pélissié said...

Nicole,

I love that you are doing this. Seriously so fun to read.

Justin said...

Nicole, I love these interviews that you are doing. Keep posting.

cristinaarkin said...

I was just thinking that the book looked pretty awesome! love her work!

just jen said...

i need help..my little boy doesn't eat anything!

Rachael said...

wow, what a perfectly timed piece. i am just learning photography, so this is wonderful!

deidra said...

This book would be awesome for my nephew!

Tonia Conger said...

my word verification is "dergen". That has to mean winner in some language.

Chrissy said...

Gorgeous Photos!

dubya said...

I love these Friday features. I've read them all! :) Thanks for introducing us to such great talent & for the pointers.

AshleyS said...

Would love Food Adventures. Also, found out I'm having a boy and need another silky blanket like the one you made for Hailey. Can I order and buy one from you? Seriously, I love it and Hailey can't live without it.

Chad and Lisa said...

Maybe someday I'll be arty. Until then, I'll read about those who are!

Hillary and Russell Jordan said...

My fingers are crossed.... Commenting just in time!

Bekah: said...

so inspiring!

Happy Harrison said...

I'd love a copy! I hope I win :)

Hillary said...

love it!

Lindsey said...

Love your interviews!! Love giveaways. Looks like an awesome book!

Zane and Lexi said...

I love learning how people get started and seeing their style. I would love to win a copy of Food Adventures...and hoping it would give me insight on how to feed my 1 year old - help!! :)

Rachel said...

Gorgeous work.

WM said...

great interview...beautiful work

Bernadette Uzcategui said...

Very inspiring...I love what she says about finding your point of view...so simple, yet so true!

N. March said...

Love this photographers work!

Shannon said...

Awesome!

Jboo said...

Lovely!! Great interview. Throw my name in the hat too please!

Janet

Blair and Curtis said...

I love your blog. We used to play as kids. Anyways, you are very talented!! I love the interview!

Amanda said...

great interview! love reading your blog.

chloereeseblog said...

Thanks Nicole. My kids would love this. I really enjoy your blog.
Kellie

Nettie Martin said...

Her work is beautiful! Pick me please!

Julie said...

Love your blog Nicole, And yes your deserve a little break from the internet!

sara said...

Wonderful interview. I especially love the photo with the floral bedding and painting above. There's something about it that strikes a chord with me. Great inspirations.

Chellese said...

I love the advice to young photographers. I'm trying to take it.

Meghan said...

Great interview. Thanks for sharing the work of yet another wonderful photographer!

Amy said...

I'm really enjoying your Friday features! Thanks for the fun and interesting reads.

Katie said...

Looks like a great book!

Darren and Nikki said...

The interview was great - the book looks beautiful.

Ang said...

her self portrait is stunning. also thanks for the wonderful list of inspiring photographers to look at all their work. i am learning a lot from these interviews. thx

Jessie said...

I am loving these Friday features!!

brooklyn said...

i love these interviews that you do. keep it up.

karla said...

Beautiful pictures - she has great style!

amanda p. said...

So many other inspiring photographers mentioned! I am excited to look at their work also :)

Melanie Nelson said...

I would love that book and hopefully my 2 year old will love the goods inside

Jennifer said...

great interview and lovely photos!

Treble Clef said...

Loved the interview! Cool photos. Neat feature you have started. The book sounds terrific.

~S~ said...

I really enjoyed this interview! thank you for featuring this interview.

Aa, A and K said...

i'd love this book! thanks for the chance to win it!

naomi carmen* said...

this interview inspired me to stick to my current camera instead of buying one that everybody has and discover who i am as a photographer with the equipment i have at hand right now. thanks for the interview. her pictures are gorgeous!!!

Martha said...

I am an interior design major but have become interested in photography in the last year. This interview has inspired me to study photography once I attain my Bachelors in interior design so that I can photograph the interiors I hope to someday work on! Thanks for the advice! Absolutely amazing photos!

Jinnie N. said...

i've been a fan of hers for awhile. great to see her interview. :)

Lula Belle said...

this blog is awesome!

Rachael said...

great interview

Katie said...

What beautiful photos!!!

lifeoftees said...

Ooh, thanks.

Sarah M said...

love the interviews...
i have a nine month old that won't eat a thing... the cookbook would be a dream.

Diana said...

Ooh, would love to win this! Here's hoping I do!

Ashley said...

This looks awesome! My son seriously needs to expand his palate.

Megan said...

Love these interviews. Keep up the good work!

tvmom said...

wow, what an amazing photographer!