We had the good fortune of connecting with Trina Pham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Trina, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
What people don’t realize is that artists and creatives are constantly exploited, sometimes unknowingly to both parties. Art has historically been one of the prominent features that define an era. Making art is the reason why artists live. We want to continue to work and exist while making art for ourselves as well as for everyone else. Other than the upper tiers of creatives, working for little to no pay has been the industry standard. Many times, companies and/or employers ask creatives to work for free for “the exposure”, to get your name out, or they will offer a “chance for you to collaborate with a cool brand”. Every artist experiences exploitation differently, these exploitative practices make it impossible for artists to advance their career and make a living. When hiring an artist, you’re paying for experience, expensive software, research, education, licensing knowledge, individual creative style, time, effort, and so much more. In this industry, artists feel disrespected, undervalued, and exploited. We need to collectively figure out how to support creatives when their efforts to sustain a business are met with (mostly) free labor.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My work tends to be how I feel, who and what I know, just like every other artist. What I look for when I photograph and document a subject is how they fit in society. I look for the everyday struggle, what is relatable but yet so distant.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend was visiting San Diego, I would take them to Tacos El Gordo and Loving Hut. Tacos el Gordo has the best adobada tacos in the United States hands down. I can’t imagine what my life would be without that restaurant. I would also take them to Loving Hut. I love some good vegan Asian food, especially vegan Vietnamese food. You have to take guests to Balboa Park. If you don’t, you’re not giving them the least bit of the San Diego experience. The next place would have to be Convoy. Convoy has all the good Asian food and it’s where I feel the most at home. Torrey Pines has an easy hike and a nice, semi-vacant beach, great for visitors to enjoy the scenic view.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My friends Laura Alba and Matt Radican helped build me up to the person that I am today. They’re creative and generous people who study and work for marginalized communities. Laura and Matt have taught me how to care for others and beauty of storytelling. They chose me to be their companions as much as a chose them. I am forever grateful I have amazing people like those two in my life.