#SFGuide Featured Photographer: Viceth Vong

Each week we will profile a member of our #SFGuide community on Instagram who we feel best portrays the everlasting beauty of San Francisco. Capturing the moment, in the perfect setting, from the best point of view, with the most inspiring mood is what these artists do best.

This week we’re featuring Viceth Vong (@viceth_vong) as our featured photographer. Scroll down to view Viceth’s work, and learn more about what inspires him as a creative.

Tag your photos with #SFGuide for a chance to be featured.

Viceth Vong

Name: Viceth (pronounced V-Seth) Vong
Age: I’m in my early 40’s, but can pass for early 30’s. ?
Profession: I’m a sales associate at Saks Fifth Avenue San Francisco in Union Square. Ladies Shoes Department. Yes, ladies! I sell high-end designer shoes! So come see me after you read this! ?
Place of Birth: I was born in Cambodia. We came to the United States during the early 80’s. My parents and I escaped the killing fields in the late 70’s. I’ve seen and been through so much as a kid en route to America.
Where do you currently reside: I am currently residing in the East Bay.
Something you’d like viewers to know about you: I was a professional DJ for 20 plus years. I did weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, school functions and clubs in the Bay Area. I still do mixes and upload them online. You can find them on Mixcloud: v-jet. I try to combine the two passions of mine in photography! Like making beautiful music, I try to compose and tell a story with pictures. I want the audience to see and feel like they were there in the moment that i’ve captured! If there’s heavy rain and high wind, I want you to see and feel it! Like you’re right in the middle of that storm.

What is your favorite spot to shoot in San Francisco, and why?
For me, it has to be Union Square in Downtown San Francisco. One, I work there. Two, it’s always a different world every time I take a break and step outside. People from all over the world visit here. It’s great for people watching and street photography, in my opinion.

When and why did you take up photography?
I’ve always considered myself an artist before a photographer. Whether it was music or other hobbies, I tend to put my heart and soul into everything I do. I got more into photography right after I got on Instagram, almost 5 years ago, but I had my foot on the photography pedal the last 2 years or so.

What do you love about photography?
It’s kind of cliché, but I’d have to say I love everything about photography. I love that I’m able to make the picture I have in my mind and convey the message. I love turning the photography flops into other great opportunities.

How do you decide what to shoot?
I usually give myself photography assignments. I try to shoot the same subject/style for a week or so. Then move on. For example; If the weather calls for rain, then I’m looking for that red umbrella shot. Which I did get, by the way! ?

What’s your favorite part about going out to shoot?
The the build up from the night before if the weather calls for an epic sunrise, the location that I’ve never been to before as a photographer, and the overall excitement of the opportunity to make something beautiful.

Which location did you have the most difficulty getting to, and how did you do it?
I wouldn’t say the location was difficult. But definitely shooting in the Bay Area, it took me many failed attempts to capture the low fog event (LFE). Networking and talking to other local photographers definitely helped check that off the photography list.

What is your dream shot? (Where, what time of day, what’s in it / the subject?)
Anywhere that has mountains and snow! I’ve yet to shoot Yosemite in the wintertime. Could be a self assignment. I’m currently in love with those shots/mood at the moment.

What is your favorite app to use for photo editing on the go, and what are your top 3 favorite filters?
I have to be honest, I started out my early Instagram using lots of editing apps. I was known by my friends as “the King of Edits.” At the time, apps like Snapseed, Mextures, PaintFX, Union, and anything fun! Now all of my processing is done in Adobe Lightroom.

How does Instagram and the #SFGuide community inspire you?
I get a lot of my inspiration through the #SFGuide community and local photographers. I often shoot, share ideas and processing styles with talented photographers like @ssvhd@lachtype, and a few others. They don’t have big followings, but have tremendous talent. They have good photography ideas and are willing to the put time and effort to make a great picture. You can say we push each other in that aspect. I would encourage photographers to get inspiration through the instagram community as well. Seek out people with similar style and genre. Learn and share ideas from each other. I have shared this amazing photography journey with a good friend @tascha.helena from New Zealand.

What are your favorite San Francisco-based Instagram accounts to follow?
Well because of this opportunity, my favorite San Francisco-based Instagram accounts to follow is @49MilesSF, along with @sanfranciscopulse, @ilove_sanfrancisco, @sfgate, and a few others.

What type of camera do you use? And what is your dream camera?
I’m currently using the Canon EOS 70D. Not a bad camera, but I’m looking to upgrade to a full frame. My dream camera is the Canon 5D Mark III. Although, I’ve heard the Mark IV is amazing!

What are your favorite settings in your ideal shot?
I always shoot in manual mode and like to keep my ISO right around 100. RAW is a must! The rest of my settings really depends on the style and conditions and what I’m trying to accomplish.

What advice would you give to new or rising photographers that you wish you had received when you first started?
Nothing that they don’t already know. You can read, watch, and learn all you want. You only get better by getting out and shooting!!! Preparation is up there too! For example; If you’re gonna shoot fireworks, you need to get there way early. Find a good spot, bring a lawn chair, warm clothes, extra batteries, flashlight, and drinking water. Be comfortable and read up on the place and conditions before hand. Last but not least; shoot with a friend and always be aware of your surroundings and conditions! Shooting is fun, but safely first!

What do you love about living in the San Francisco Bay Area?
Except for the high home prices, EVERYTHING!!! We photographers are so blessed to be able to shoot all the iconic locations and events the San Francisco Bay Area. There’s so many diversities in the Bay Area. Food, culture, beaches, weather, and breathtaking views all around the SF Bay Area.

Follow us on Instagram, and tag your photos with #SFGuide to be featured.

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