Little Saigon_4.jpg

120 - Little Saigon


medium format, mamiya rz67

Food is a powerful proclamation of cultural identity. For immigrants, cooking preserves and celebrates the traditions and memories of a faraway home. In an effort to explore my Vietnamese heritage, I spent three months immersing myself in the kitchen of a Vietnamese restaurant, Little Saigon, in Brunswick, Maine.

This was my first foray into medium-format photography. Saying it was rewarding would be an understatement. As my camera, a Mamiya RZ67, and tripod were cumbersome in narrow spaces, I learned how to meticulously plan and execute each frame while remaining adaptable to sudden changes. I spent time getting to know owner and head chef Vay Ly - and ultimately, established a close rapport with her that allowed both of us to feel more comfortable during shooting sessions, resulting in better images.

Bonus: I learned how to cook many of the pictured dishes!