Tiffany Nguyen's portfolio, featuring breathtaking shots from her own around-the-world adventures, has given us a reprieve from the four walls of our apartments this year. A dentist and adventure travel photographer from Southern California, Tiffany's passion for discovering new places and immersing herself in unfamiliar cultures is central to her work.
Follow Tiffany on Instagram @TiffPenguin to travel with her around the world. And read on to learn about her photography journey and get a list of her top five must-see places in the world!
The Model One BT on display in Tiff's indoor jungle.
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How and when did you decide to become a travel photographer?
I first got into photography almost seven years ago when I was preparing to graduate from dental school. I began by just taking photos for fun and sharing them on Instagram. Photography pushed me to travel to new places, immerse myself in local cultures, and open myself up to new experiences.
Photography and traveling have always gone hand in hand for me. Traveling allows me to gain a new perspective on each place I visit, and photography lets me share those adventures with others, which in turn pushes me to keep creating. I couldn’t ignore the feeling that this is what I was meant to do so I decided to veer from the straight path and pursue my passion for photography.
Is it difficult balancing a full-time job with another full-time job and hobby?
Balancing two jobs always comes with its challenges but it was particularly hard to balance dentistry and photography. They’re such different career paths, and each required my time and attention in different ways which was very mentally and physically taxing. Luckily, I had a more flexible schedule practicing at our family’s dental office so I was able to make it work for quite some time. But there came a time where I felt like I had to take some time away from dentistry and focus primarily on photography. I wanted to give photography 100% and follow the opportunities that it was bringing me as a career.
On to the travel. What are the top five places you've traveled, and why?
#5. Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is one of the first places that sparked my interest in photography, and is hands down my favorite place in California. It doesn’t matter how many times I visit, it always finds a way to keep bringing me back. It has something to offer for everyone — you can enjoy beautiful hikes for all skill levels, relax by the Merced River, or just take in the epic landscapes. You’ll never run out of things to photograph here.
If it’s your first time visiting, you’ll definitely want to check out the different perspectives of Half Dome throughout the Park. It’s such an amazing and distinctive structure and whether you’re on the Valley floor or up above it all at Glacier Point, seeing it from all the different angles throughout the park is a real treat.
#4. The Maldives
The Maldives is one of those places that everyone needs to visit at least once in their life. There’s something so special about this place that makes you never want to leave. It’s the perfect place to get away and relax, but there are also so many adventures to be had here. I’d recommend staying at a few different resorts so you can experience what the different islands have to offer.
One of my favorite moments in the Maldives was swimming with manta rays. When we went out, we expected to see a few of them out there, but instead found ourselves surrounded by over 50. It was magical.
Whenever people ask me my favorite place I’ve ever been, I immediately answer Japan. From the food and culture to the landscapes and architecture, there’s no place like it. Even if you don’t speak Japanese it’s very easy to get around because the people are so welcoming and helpful. Plus their robust public transportation system makes it super easy to see a lot while you’re there.
The landscapes in Norway are unmatched. It offers some of the most amazing hikes and natural scenes in the world — we went hiking almost everyday while we were there, and each hike had something unique to offer. It’s easy to be continually impressed when you’re in such a consistently beautiful place.
Word of advice: the weather in Norway can change in an instant so make sure you pack for all different types of weather! You can experience sunshine, rain and snow, all in the same day.
#1. HOME! A.k.a Los Angeles
Los Angeles will always be home for me. No matter where in the world I've traveled, I always look forward to coming back.
It’s not just a big city, it has so much more to offer. No matter where you are, you’re always just a short drive away from either the mountains or the beach. It also has such a wide variety of amazing food. There are a ton of places to explore just outside of the city, so keep an open mind and you’ll definitely find some hidden gems!