We had the good fortune of connecting with Kay Pham-Nguyen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kay, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
More times than less, I’ve struggled a lot with creative burnouts and imposter syndrome. It’s a huge thing that many people outside of the art world are aware of but I don’t think they would ever fully grasp the entirety of the mental block. I know a lot of outsiders will attempt to reassure you as an artist and say “it’s okay that you’re feeling like this, maybe you should take a break” or that I’m still original when I don’t feel like it, and that’s really appreciated but I feel like creative burnout and imposter syndrome as an artist trying to pursue art as a full-time career can be detrimental, in a sense. At the roots of it, I feel like social media comes into a very large play factor. With so many creatives on Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok and any other platforms, it often feels like there’s a lot of competition out there when we should ideally be working together.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The thing I’d say I’m the most proud of is definitely making it as far as I am. As cliche as it sounds being young and in an art career, a lot of people begin to believe that your art, or in my case photography, is just a hobby. Especially being a music photographer, shooting concerts and artists that I love, is something completely surreal. The journey to where I got to be right now wasn’t easy. Back in high school, I was in the Arts program but I was definitely the kid who never engaged in school activities, and basically only went to school for class and turned in the assignments. However, I knew that I wanted to something more than just that kid. I actually think it’s kind of funny because up until my junior year, I wanted to go to college and study pre-law to become a lawyer. Things quickly changed once I realized that I could merge the two things I absolutely and indefinitely love in the world, music and photography. The first time I ever shot a concert was the Moontower show at the Roxy Theater on Sunset Blvd, and there was a moment during that show where I knew that this is exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It felt like a literal scene from a movie. Since then, I’ve taken on a few new projects, one being Late Bloomer Media. A friend of mine, Nick Pigeon, recently launched this film/media production company that aimed towards music videos and took me on as a producer and unit still photographer. Being a part of such an amazing team during this unprecedented waiting period is truly a blessing. As for tips and lessons that I’ve learned along the way is never be afraid to take risks. Email that person, DM that artist, always create. I would also say that practice makes perfect, don’t be afraid to experiment with your artistic style and vision. With that said, your art should always mean something, and lastly, art should never be about competition, but about collaboration.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Living in LA county there’s so many things to do. First off, I would take them to my ABSOLUTE favorite place for acai bowls. Blue Bowl is a huge staple in my life and I show absolutely everyone that I know that place. Second, I would probably take them to go to all of the touristy things people do in LA, like walking the Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive, Sunset Blvd and all that jazz. My favorite thing to do when I’m up in LA is definitely drive down Mulholland to Laurel Canyon while blasting your favorite songs. It’s definitely a main character moment, and I live for those. If we were able to have large groups of people right now, I would most definitely take them to a concert, preferably at the Roxy or the Fonda Theater. These two venues have felt like home to me, in ways that I wouldn’t be able to put into words. However, I’d hope that an artist we listened to would be playing that night, but I’d still be going if I had the chance to and I didn’t know the artist. I love hearing artists for the first time live because the energy is way different on a stage than through a car radio. Back in Long Beach, I would definitely say that its a number one to watch the sunset in Shoreline Village by our lighthouse. It’s such a beautiful experience to have and I would love to have a non local appreciate it alongside me. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There’s a multitude of people to thank. But there’s a few specifically that changed the game for me. First, Carina Glastris and the Moontower team because they were actually the first show I ever shot, and I think that it was amazing that they gave me a chance to experience a moment I’d end up remembering for literally the rest of my career, and probably my life. At that show, I actually met one of my mentors, Linda Wang. She’s always been in my corner, cheering me on and answering my 3am editing questions without any hesitations, and I’m really thankful for her. I’d also love to credit my other mentor, Syd Trip, along with Kaylie Altman. Syd has also always been there for me when I decide to take really big steps in furthering my career and how I should go about them, and at the end of the day she creates some of the best work in my hometown and I’m beyond grateful for her support and advice. Kaylie Altman is one of the main reasons for my success, she started out as someone I wanted to shoot just to build some portfolio work, and soon became my best friend. She’s booked me more than once, and always opens doors for me, including the door that led to me shooting for Urban Outfitters. Lastly, as cliche as it is, I’d have to say I credit my parents for supporting me in this career, knowing that it’s a risk to do it full-time.

Website: kaaysphotos.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/kaaysphotos

Twitter: www.twitter.com/kaaysphotos

Youtube: www.youtube.com/kalinphamnguyen

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