We had the good fortune of connecting with Ben Pham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ben, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Throughout my entire life I have generally viewed risk as the defining factor to a decision. I think I can speak for everyone on this but risk has been taught to be the negative outcome of any situation. From dropping out of school to pursue a passion to speeding up to make it through a yellow light; risk surrounds every decision we make and decides whether we see it through or not. I personally have always taken into account the risk of every situation but it wasn’t until fairly recently that I realized the effects of every risk. Knowing how the risk will affect you and the people around you gives you a different perspective. It makes you take a step back and think about every decision.
Taking risks has been a huge part of my career. There is mainly one decision that comes to mind when I think about what role risk has played and that was whether to finish or leave school. Finishing school meant a later start in my passion while leaving school meant I would get to start now. Either way the outcome was the same, the only thing holding me back was the risk factor. The risk here was the chance that photography would not work out for me and I would be stuck in a place with a failed attempt at a dream and no degree. It’s very easy to think of all of the negatives and create infinite scenarios of failure but what if it goes the other way. What if the risk you thought was too great and not worth it actually turns into exactly what you asked for. I am blessed to have supportive people around me and it absolutely made this decision much easier for me. I took the chance and whichever way I ended up going I know I would still have these people around me and I would just figure it out. Taking that first jump and leaving school was probably the hardest decision, everything afterwards slowly started falling into place and it is honestly working out for the better. If I never took the risk of leaving school I definitely would not be where I am today and I and the headspace I am in now. This was probably the most pivotal moment of risk and changed my future for the better but as an artist risks are constantly taken. It is all part of the learning process, if you’re not willing to take the risk then you won’t ever know what could have gone right.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
To start it off I am a photographer based in LA. I have been taking photographs since 2014 and the progression of my work is definitely something I am proud of. I started with landscape photography and slowly ventured into taking portraits. It wasn’t until about 2018 that I really classified myself as a portrait photographer. 2019 was the year that I really started to take photography seriously. This is when I decided to really hone in on my style and grow my portfolio into something presentable. My friend Chano was making the move to LA and I decided to tag along with him and this is where I started seeing growth and became proud of the work I was creating.
My biggest struggle was finding my signature style and even now I am still refining and adjusting. When I first moved to LA I wanted to go into fashion photography, it seemed like the perfect fit for me. After a few months I realized that the shoots I was doing felt forced and I wasn’t feeling inspired by my own work. After some trial and error I found my inspiration in cinematic photography, making the viewer feel like they are in a whole new time period and immersed into the photo. I want to make people feel something when they look at my photos. To feel an emotion whether that be nostalgia or excitement, the viewer needs to be immersed and captured by the photograph. Creating work that is timeless and will still have relevance as years pass.
Lessons are learned from mistakes and I have made plenty of mistakes in my time as a photographer. From not doing enough prep work for a photoshoot to having a hard drive fail resulting in the loss of all my photos, these mistakes are hard at the time but are the best way to learn. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give is creating work only for you. There are so many artists in all different mediums preaching this but it’s true. If you create work solely for the likes and comments it gets old and the meaning is lost. Genuine work comes from within and figuring out how to dig into your thoughts and emotions and turn that into art is something that takes time and may not be liked by everyone but it sure is worth it to look back and be happy with the work you’ve created.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Since I moved to LA during the pandemic, I haven’t been able to experience LA for its full potential quite yet but I can give some good places and food to try out. Redbird is an amazing place to go to for a nice date night and nice dinner, the dishes are amazing and I highly recommend trying out the duck if you’re into that. A place my girlfriend introduced me to is Ave. 26th. They used to only be tacos but recently they became this street with a bunch of different vendors selling things from tacos to funnel cakes and even the birria ramen. It’s an amazing place to go to if you like street food. The last place I can recommend is Red Room Photo Lab located in Van Nuys. If you shoot film this is definitely the place you need to go get your film developed. It’s cheap and the return time is the quickest I’ve seen and their scans are perfect every time.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The people who are my support system and in my daily life are the ones who deserve this recognition. To name a few, my parents for showing me constant support, my girlfriend Kristen who has been my rock and the person I can count on for any feedback or advice, and lastly my friend and photographer Christiano Hermoso for taking me under and guiding me through this insane but just as rewarding career path.
Vince Harrington, Ariana Simone, Lael River, Hailey Beth, Jasmine Rutledge, Tatianna Team members: Rachel Lita (hair stylist), Frankie Segura (makeup artist), Alex Hiroko de Leon (wardrobe stylist), Lisa Li (wardrobe stylist, Ayano Jinnouchi (hair stylist), Shanice Jones (Makeup artist), Tatiana Wise (wardrobe stylist), Peggy Duncan (wardrobe stylist).