ARCommunity #FF with Featured Photographer, Ted Nghiem

This week’s Featured Photographer is Ted Nghiem, a food and travel photographer and blogger residing in Philadelphia who is working on a photo project he hopes to turn into a book. Ted uses his trusty Canon 5D Mark III to capture the food and culture of Vietnam here in the US. I met with him in downtown Manhattan for coffee a few weeks ago to learn more about his project.


ARC: Tell us about this project you’re working on.

Ted Nghiem: Well, at first I wanted to travel Vietnam and go along the highlands and photograph every food I could. But since I have a day job it would take away from my vacation days so I decided to just travel Vietnam that’s in America. I’m still checking out other Vietnamese cuisines, so I’m just traveling where ever I can find little Vietnams in different cities.

How would you describe your style of photography?

I would say it’s more of a documentary style. I’ll sometimes arrange the plates to have a different look. But I’m not a big fan of setting things up. I like to see the ebbs flow, as it goes.

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What other cities have you explored? You’re from Philly and you’re here in NY. Have you been anywhere else?

Not yet but I’m looking at the ones in New Jersey. I heard there are Little Saigons in Jersey City. I Google “Little Saigon” because people will call their restaurant’s Little Saigon. I’m looking for a huge community, like in California. There is a specific community there that people refer to as Little Saigon and there are pockets of little Vietnamese shops. I thought I would find something like that here but I’ve just found these small markets. I’m going to California next month. Ultimately, I hope to take it across the states. I plan on visiting Virginia. I’ll probably head down south at some point, but I hope to get to the four corners of the US.

In regards to your project, what do you hope to achieve with it?

I just want to see how we translate our culture from Vietnam to here. I’m a first generation because I was born here, but I want to see those who immigrated here. How they situated themselves. What they brought from their culture and tried to keep here. In a sociology textbook they say that Vietnamese hold very strong to their culture, so I wanted to document it. I’m getting to the interview part, eventually. Right now it’s just photography but I figure I will have to interview people at some point.

I’m blogging an entry of each place I visit. I’m using Blurb to self-publish and I’m just sending mailers to see if they’re interested in the story. It’s tough because in photography you’re one in a million out there so you’re fighting each who’s probably mailing their work to editors. So figuring out a way to catch their attention is a whole other project as it is. Which I’m thinking of how I’m going to package this already.

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You can follow Ted Nghiem on Twitter and Instagram to follow his journey.


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