We had the good fortune of connecting with David Peng and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
This is the quote that helped affirm an important decision in my life.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma- which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs
Having parents who are both chefs, I have lived the majority of my life working in their restaurants. Growing up in a family business can be tough and there are certain things that are expected of you. One of them being an unspoken acknowledgment that you are to carry on the family legacy.
The high pressure and demand shaped me into a successful business person. My job gave me purpose but there was a part of me that knew I was meant for something else.
Thoughts of that something else left me with a big decision to make. Do I disappoint my family and choose a career in my passion for photography? Or do I shoulder my family duties and continue running the family business?
Trying to find some sort of balance, I pursued two degrees at different times. I always say the first (Finance) was for my family and the second (Commercial Photography) was for me. Not a unique story, true, but it’s innate for us to want to please our family. And once the second degree was done, I still had a decision to make. Passion or duty?
Had I chosen the latter, I wouldn’t be here telling you the importance of following your own path. Life is full of difficult choices but listen to your inner voice. Ultimately, you know what you really want.
I made a very difficult decision and pursued my passion for photography. We sold the family business and off I went across the country to L.A. No matter how difficult things got and no matter how much doubt I had, I knew that giving up wasn’t a choice. The important lesson is to keep fighting for what you want.
Whatever you choose to do, do it because you’re passionate about it. Your work should give you a sense of joy and pride. Work hard, be persistent, and never give up. Soon you’ll find yourself doing what you were always meant to do.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Food tour all the way! K-town for late night Korean BBQ and karaoke. San Gabriel for some spicy Szechuan. West Minster for some amazing Pho and Vietnamese cuisine. Taco trucks pretty much all over LA and Glendale for some of the best Mediterranean and Persian food.
For your museum fix definitely The Broad, LACMA and Getty Museum. Then head to OC for beach days at Crystal Cove, Laguna and Malibu. I love thrifting so The Rose Bowl and the Long Beach Antique Market are really fun as well. The list goes on to Grand Central Market, Griffith Observatory, hit up Melrose, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and drinks at some of my favorite bars around town. That’s the beauty of L.A, there is no shortage of entertainment and sites to see.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Many thanks to my instructor Dhanraj Emanuel at RCC back in NC. To my many incredibly talented friends and mentors I’ve met here in LA including Ed Rudolph, Kristin Teig, Leslie Grow, and Nidia Cueva who helped teach, encourage and guide me. To my amazing and supportive friends Natalie Abbassi and Laath Martin who have helped make LA home. Most importantly, I owe my success to my amazing partner Tri Nguyen and to my Family for supporting me. To my Mom, Dad, my brother Tommy and his wife Emme, my two nephews Max and Luc. Love you all so much.