One of the best parts of being a creative is compiling a network of fellow creatives in your area. If both creatives are in the same field, they can bounce ideas off one another and help each other improve. If the two creatives do completely different things — like Brookyn, New York-based Ben Franke with photography and Nini Nguyen with cooking — they can get together and collaborate on shoots that help both parties.
Nini and I have been friends for a while. A few months ago, we started talking about collaborating on a shoot together. I wanted to capture Nini in a more natural environment, so instead of a restaurant I suggested the Union Square Greenmarket.
Union Square was for the location aspect of the shoot, though she did buy some ingredients for her dinner at home that night. We also shot at my studio in Williamsburg for portraits. The shoot itself took about three hours.
Nini’s food background is eclectic, with the New Orleans native combining the cuisines of her hometown and her family’s homeland, Vietnam, to create a truly unique flavor profile. This bit of information informs Nini’s ability to work with others. Since she’s so used to experimenting in the kitchen, that mindset carries over to other collaborative endeavors, like a photo shoot.
Nini is a perfect collaborator and was very open to trying out different ideas.
We were both really happy with how the images came out.
As you can see, the former Top Chef contestant posted the images on her Instagram page and added some to her personal website. It’s a good thing Ben and Nini got some shots in his studio, because while they were out and about, the chef got stopped more than once. Since she’s incredibly approachable, this made for a welcome diversion.
Nini has always been super kind and friendly. I’ve learned a ton about cooking from her after taking a few of her classes, which I can’t recommend highly enough. While we were in Union Square, she did get recognized and stopped by a few people, and it was great to see a friend receiving some much-deserved admiration.
See more of Ben’s work at benfranke.com.
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