Tuan H. Bui, Photographer and his team are not only one of our favorite wedding photographers to work with, but we also have the pleasure of sharing an office with them! Tuan and his team have a very particular visual aesthetic that is equal parts romantic and artistic. They have the ability to translate a couple’s love into stunning art. Take a look at their gorgeous work, and learn a little more about them by reading the Q&A below.
TBP: We specialize in emotive, beautiful, narrative wedding photography. I find that our clients tend to be very people and family-oriented, and place an emphasis on emotions and real moments.
NYE: How did you get started, what inspired you?
TBP: You know, ten years ago, I started doing fashion photography, and sort of fell into weddings as friend after friend would ask me to shoot their wedding. At first it was sort of a chore – like, “Okay, I’ll do this for you, as a favor” – but by my seventh wedding, my attitude had changed completely! I realized that making wedding photographs was truly meaningful work – that my photos were precious objects to my brides and grooms, and that their children and children’s children would look at these pictures decades from now. Of course, I am still heavily influenced by my fashion photography training when I shoot weddings, but the inspiration now comes from the sheer joy of the people I’m taking pictures of – I feel like I have to capture that as best I can.
TBP: There are two main things that define our style – the first is an emphasis on real emotion. We won’t ask anyone to repeat moments or pretend to do anything; we capture it as it happens. The same goes for posed portraits. We’ll never say something like “Turn your head a little… now both of you laugh on three. Ready? One two LAUGH.” Instead, we might say “Tony, imagine the first time you saw Kate. Did you think she was pretty?” At this point, -something- will happen – a laugh, a kiss, a sheepish grin, a deep look, and whatever happens there, that’s the picture we’ll take.
The second is a strong sense of aesthetics. I personally draw my inspiration from the fashion and portrait photography world. My heroes are Penn, Avedon, Roversi, Lachapelle, Bourdin, Newton – photographers on a complete other plane of awesomeness! I don’t work in the same field as them, but my visual library is informed by their work and others’. For Adam (my associate, and the reason I’ve been using “we” instead of “I”), he has four years of intensive photographic schooling behind him, and is extremely visually literate. Neither of us just picked up a camera one day – we have both bent our lives in this direction on purpose, so the images we make are reflections of every beautiful thing we’ve seen!
NYE: Where does your inspiration come from?
TBP: Every visual art. I go to the art institute often, and the way the old masters used shadow and light is incredible. I’m also a huge film buff, and I love both the storytelling aspect of movies as well as the visual drama that can come from moving pictures. Of course, I also look to fashion and portrait photographers as inspiration – I’ve got shelves and shelves of photo books at home that I look through (and get humbled by repeatedly). I try to cram as much visual input into me as possible, so that I have an… enormous library of images in my head that I can draw from when I am photographing.
NYE: What’s your favorite thing about working in the wedding industry?
TBP: All of the people in this industry are in it for the love! I have a lot of friends that left lucrative careers in other fields in order to sweat sixty, eighty hours a week making less than half of what they used to make, because this is what their passion is. It’s an incredibly good feeling when you work a wedding and you know that the florist, the caterer, the DJ, the musicians, are all following a thread in their hearts just like you are, and that all of you are pouring your souls into your work.
NYE: Do you have a favorite moment from a wedding that you can share?
TBP: There are so many! Okay – from the wedding I shot last weekend, when the father of the bride got up to give his speech, he instead sang a song that he had written for his daughter. It was so heartfelt and beautiful – half the room was crying, including me. Just… being there… for moments like this, being given access to something so personal, is such an incredible privilege!
NYE: Do you have any green initiatives you’d like to share?
TBP: Photography-wise, our impact is small – we use rechargeable batteries, so our waste is essentially zero when we work. When I use my large-format film camera at weddings, the film I use is often old-stock expired film (expired film gives wonderful colors), so I am giving it a new lease on life whereas ordinarily it would be thrown out.
NYE: How far in advance should clients book your services?
TBP: A year out is perfect. Most people book in the 9-12 month timeframe, so booking earlier than the masses is your best bet.
TBP: When I offer tea, coffee, beer or wine during a consultation, please say wine more often. We have a lot of wine.
NYE: How can clients connect with you?