By: Jennifer Bui
My parents and older siblings were refugees of the Vietnam War. Being the youngest and the first born American in my family, there were high expectation on academics and obtaining a lucrative career. I didn’t have the same outlook in life or goals for myself the way that they did. From a young age, I had the mindset of working to enjoy life, goals of traveling and being able to see the world from which they came from, and more.
A consequence of being the youngest sibling: I spent a lot of my formative years alone. During this time, I naturally gravitated towards drawing and painting. I spent late nights up as a teen, immersing myself in cinema and messing around on Photoshop, hiding from my parents disapproval, and their urging for me to drop my passion.
Going against my parents wishes, I applied and was accepted into an art and design school in Boston. I was thankful for their financial support despite the lack of encouragement. I couldn’t let this stop me from pushing myself forward. This drive eventually led to my first internships and design job right out of college. Even with a steady paycheck, my parents were still skeptical.
When the company I was working for at the time tanked and I was laid off, my parents were quick to suggest a career change. However, I was determined and quickly landed myself a job that would take me out of Boston and bring me to where I am now, New York City. I was still struggling to find confidence and direction in my work, so I ended up freelancing for a year to gain experience in various design positions. Eventually, I saw an opening at NBCUniversal on LinkedIn and applied, thinking nothing of it. Next thing I knew, I was offered the position. For the first time in my adult life, my parents, in their way, showed me that they were proud. Although, at that point in my life, I didn’t need their validation. I have never felt so supported by such an amazing Creative Director and diverse team, creating work I am proud of with the encouragement to grow creatively outside of the office.
Despite the struggles in my career before landing my dream job at NBCUniversal, I still managed to keep up with one of my main passions: traveling. I find creative inspiration and ideas when I am abroad. My love for films from a young age, was the primary source of inspiration for me to pick up photography. I’ve combined the two and started my own photo series “After Dark”- capturing night time scenes in various cities, (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Tokyo, Bangkok) the cinematic look and feel inspired by Wong Kar Wai, Gaspar Noe, and Ridley Scott. I always worked better at night, when everything is quiet around me. I find comfort in late night walks, wherever I am at in the moment. Street photography happens fast, in one blink you could miss the scene you saw in your mind, so a lot of it is happenstance or by chance which makes it so much more thrilling for me to capture a unique moment the way I see it and share it with others.
Jennifer Bui is a graphic designer at NBCUniversal. She is a self-described hot sauce and tattoo enthusiast, and traveler. Night photography is one of her greatest passions.
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