ATG speaks with Van Ditthavong, an award-winning editorial and commercial photographer, about how he got his start in photography and how it has changed his views of the world. A political refugee born in Vientiane, Laos, Van was separated from his parents for years before being reunited with them in the U.S. when he was four. He grew up outside of Washington, D.C., lived most of his adult life in Boston and New York, studying photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the International Center of Photography in New York City.
Full Name: Van Ditthavong
Current Residence: Dallas, TX
What inspired you to go into photography?
I started late in photography. I bought my first camera when I was 25 years-old and my pictures looked horrible. I became obsessed about trying to improve. I just think photography is a good medium to express ideas and learn about people.
What has been some of the biggest challenges you have faced?
Like any discipline, I think the toughest part is trying to find your voice or vision. In order to do that you really have to find out what type of photography you like to do (portraits, travel, food, products..) and then make lots of mistakes. Eventually, the way you see the world comes out of your photographs.
What has been your favorite part about photography?
I like all parts of photography. Being a professional photographer, I like the process, meeting clients and their expectations, meeting interesting people and taking their portraits, playing with light and always trying to get better and experimenting.
What is the most important lesson/advice you would give?
Find something you are passionate about and then use a medium (photography, writing, film, painting, etc…) to explore that something.
Check out Van and other featured photographers at Cocktails for a Cause!