These past few years I’ve been spending a lot of time really reconnecting with my cultural identity and it’s been really beautiful. It started with when I went back to Vietnam in 2017 – I saw where my parents grew up, I reconnected with family, and ate my way through my motherland. I’ve been back so many times, but I appreciated it so differently as an adult. I appreciated it so much more, it made my heart so full and made me so happy. Ever since then I have been trying to dig deeper into who I am. I want to talk to my family about their histories and learn more. I want to learn how to cook Vietnamese cuisine, I want to make sure that I never drop my Vietnamese identity. Growing up in America, it can be so easy to forget your ethnic background. You get shamed for being different so you try to fit in as much as possible. You try to be fully “American” – whatever that meant. I was always ashamed of the food, of the language, of the traditions but now… now I know that if I were to reject the Vietnamese in me, I was rejecting myself.
Because of this I have been DYING to photograph individuals in their cultural garments. First step? My very own. I found this traditional vietnamese dress or áo dài in my closet. I had it professionally made when I was in high school and it was PERFECT for a wedding styled shoot. Traditionally, Vietnamese wedding dresses are red and gold – however, I thought it would be the perfect modern flair to a traditional garment. Next steps was to find a model, hairstylist, and florist. AND BOY DID I FIND THEM. The location was a beautiful hidden gem only half an hour from my apartment in Baltimore… and whoa was it beautiful. The shoot was everything I needed and more. I’m so glad I can share a bit of my culture with you and a bit of myself. I hope you enjoy this shoot as much as I did!
Model | Amanda Tran (@amandatran)
Hairstylist | Lucja (@lucja.bridalstylist)
Florist | Moonchild Floral Designs
Venue | North Point State Park