We got a sneak peek of Dat Tran’s entry for this year’s Contessa Awards! While we can’t show you too much, we can tell you what he’s learned from shooting his first collection last year, and how he’s using those lessons to find success this year.
Don’t get too attached to your plans
Tran wasn’t phased by the fact that he had to change his photo shoot location at the last minute. As we stepped into his friend’s studio space, he explains that it’s all part of his philosophy.
“Don’t plan anything. I stopped sketching anything because you really have to go with the flow. Unexpected things can happen. I don’t usually tell the model to come beforehand to see how their hair is. I just go in that day [and see it] because I love the challenge of that.”
Instead, Tran comes in with a theme or idea and lets it flow. “Come up with an inspiration first, but don’t sketch anything. Just come with one inspiration.”
Work with a team you trust
Tran feels comfortable on photos shoots because he does editorial work often and collaborates with a reliable team. Whether you’re looking for models, stylist, or photographers Tran recommends finding people you communicate well with, who ‘get’ your vision and are excited to work with you.
“If I’m looking to do futuristic, I just tell the stylist that’s what I’m looking for, and she pulls the clothes. I’ve been really fortunate to work with a lot of really great stylists and makeup artists and even models. When I cast for models, I’ve been able to find ones that really want to work with me.”
Keep positive on set
The reason Tran doesn’t like to plan anything too much is because he knows how upsetting it can be when your vision doesn’t turn out perfectly on a photoshoot. “With the series I became a finalist, that wasn’t the collection I set out to do. I sketched this, I sketched that, but then when it came down to it, I couldn’t execute it. I felt mad that I couldn’t execute it.”
His best advice on set is to go with the flow. “You’ve got to keep up your positive energy, because you need to go all day. You need to not think about everything that could go wrong, or you’ll lose your inspiration.”
The only thing you should plan? Backup models
Tran recommends hiring back up models, just in case one doesn’t show up or has to reschedule. And if everything goes according to plan you can always shoot an extra look.
Stagger the times your models come in so you can take your time to create each look and have the day flow seamlessly. “You have to understand how long it’s going to take to get one model prepped up, and if you have a casting call and everybody is coming in all at once, it’s no fun if people are just sitting around.”
Get inspiration from simple places
Tran’s inspiration for his collection came from the popular TV show “The Big Bang Theory”. “I take simple elements of daily life and our lifestyle and apply that to hair. I just think hair is an art, and I sculpt. I’m a hair sculptor.”
Aside from possibly bringing inspiration boards filled with images to set, Tran is also a fan of trying new technology. “Use Pinterest. I download a lot of images, and you can just kind of absorb it, rather than sketch.”