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An Interview with Bao Ngo

Bao Ngo's work is incredibly diverse (from glam neon lights to hazy motel shoots) but it is all unified by the uncanny ability to transport the viewer into visionary realms. Bao is ludicrously talented. It's evident that she's not a one-trick-pony. Her body of work is a library, and each photo in it is a genre unto itself. With every new project she introduces, I'm captivated. I was able to talk to Bao about her inspirations and upcoming projects, and I'm honestly still over-the-moon that she responded to me.

What work are you most proud of?
There are actually a couple other works I'm super proud of, none of which have been released. I apparently take forever to finish projects I deeply care about. Two of them are set to come out later this year (late summer/early fall maybe?) actually. We'll find out then!

What's the best piece of storytelling you've ever encountered?
Hospice by The Antlers is probably one of the best pieces of storytelling I've encountered; it's the first one that comes to mind. I draw a lot of inspiration from music, especially concept albums. My mother is a musician, and I was a musician before I became a visual artist as well. Hospice really tears me apart completely.

Who do you think the most creative person alive is?
This is such a difficult question to answer! Especially because I think creativity is mostly in our heads. I know that most of my most creative ideas never make it out of my head because they would be so difficult to execute realistically. Maybe someday if someone ever gives me a budget it'll happen.

Can you describe your favorite outfit?
Yes! It's definitely this one (on the right) worn by Agnetha Faltskog during ABBA's 1974 Eurovision performance.

Image via

What's the weirdest dream you've ever had?
Most of my dreams involve me stealing and crashing cars or helicopters. I don't drive either, so I guess all of them are pretty weird to me. This goes as far back as I can remember! I think these dreams are part of the reason why I was scared of driving and failed the test to get my license three times when I was in high school.

Who has been your favorite person to shoot?
I love almost everyone I shoot to death, but probably my favorite is Annika White-- she's a model, filmmaker, photographer, and stylist. She's amazing at everything she does. She's also my best friend. I don't have any other collaborators who understand me as much as she does.

What has been your favorite location to shoot at?
This is such a cliche answer but Iceland! Specifically Reykjadalur, this valley about 40 minutes outside of Reykjavik. It's a little hike but totally worth it. There's a river and it's full of fog and mist and bright green grass.

If you weren't a photographer, what would you be doing?
Before I wanted to be a photographer, I wanted to be a lawyer, which seems totally ridiculous now but I was so serious about it. When I was in high school, I even interned for a lawyer! I thought it was going to be my life.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Stop comparing yourself to others so much. Everyone is different and no one has the exact same path in life as another person, so comparing yourself to others is totally useless.

If you were to compare your entire body of work to a type of flower, what flower would it be and why?
I don't know anything about flowers, so I'm not sure if I could compare my entire body of work to one. I love bluebonnets though. They're a very nostalgic flower for me since they're the state flower of my home state, Texas. They are super special to me, since Texas inspires my work so much to this day.

Has their been an album or a song that has had a significant influence on your work?
Not on my entire body of work! But some of my individual photos were inspired by albums, depending on what I'm into at the time.

Has your style (in terms of photography) changed over time?
It has changed a lot. I think it's always evolving. Two years ago I opted to switch to digital from shooting film, and in the last year, I've been exploring darker themes and palettes. I used to want to be a fashion photographer but now I have very little interest in fashion. For a long time, I think my work was about femininity and now I'm not feeling work about femininity anymore. Lately I've been loving neutral colors as well, although I used to love really bold colors!

Photo credits: Bao Ngo
You can follow Bao on Instagram: @baohngo


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