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By Elizabeth Strauch '04

A frequent discussion in the university communications office lately is, "What are we going to do without Bao?"

I first met Bao Tran '19 when he and his photography teacher, Whitworth adjunct professor Kirk Hirota, collaborated on a photo and video series to thank Whitworth donors. Bao produced the compelling videos in a style unlike anything we'd done before. Did I mention he was a junior in high school?

When Bao was accepted to Whitworth, our office hired him as a student photographer and videographer. He has since captured hundreds of student and faculty portraits for our website, produced dozens of videos, and provided gorgeous photography for this magazine and other projects.

Bao is lighthearted and hardworking, humble and mature, and he puts others at ease when pointing a big lens at them. He has become a trusted colleague and a friend. I've felt privileged to witness how he has refined his photography skills while bringing his future beyond Whitworth into focus.

At Whitworth, Bao discovered an interest in and aptitude for computer science and math. He helped form a computer science club and chartered Fall Break trips to California for club members to visit Silicon Valley companies like Adobe and Google. These trips led Bao into a competitive internship in machine learning with Adobe last summer.

Bao returned to campus with big news. After graduating in May, he will begin working at Adobe in August as a computer scientist for Lightroom, an image editing software. We're thrilled for him, while still in denial that he won't be here this fall. Bao may just be getting started in his career, but he leaves behind a legacy at Whitworth.

Take a look at a gallery of his work.

This story appears in the spring 2019 issue of Whitworth Today magazine.



How to take better photos: 4 tips from Bao Tran '19

Across the past four years, Bao Tran '19 has produced dozens of videos and provided gorgeous photography for Whitworth.

We asked Bao what advice he would give to budding photographers and to those who want to brush up their skills. Here are his top four tips:

  1. Think about the story you want to tell. Everyone can take a snapshot. To make your photos unique, try to use the tools you have and elements around you to tell a story. Understand how different lighting creates different moods and tones that help draw in the viewer and express the scene. Also, use composition to frame your photo. The rule of thirds is a good way to make your photos more visually appealing. Lastly, the principles of design provide tools you can use to help tell the story. Elements like texture, pattern, color emphasis and harmony help draw viewers in and let them know what to focus on.
  2. Try new angles. Most people take photos at eye level. Photographers lie in the mud, climb on objects, and put their bodies in weird positions to get the shot. To make your photo stand out, experiment with different angles and positions to compose a shot. Images from unexpected perspectives really catch people's eyes.
  3. Research and learn from other photographers. A good way to practice photography is to find images you really like and try to recreate them. I have saved a collection of photos and styles I like so I can reference them. When you build up collections like these, it becomes easier to know how to approach different scenes or environments.
  4. Take a LOT of photos. The more photos you take, the faster you improve on the technical side and develop your style and look. You'll learn what works for you and what doesn't. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so the more you practice, the more you can fine-tune your photography. The fun of it comes from the adventure of trying new things!