Employee Spotlight: Tony Phan

Category: Primitive Social

Written by: Leisa Redmon

Posted on: August 22, 2019

Name: Tony Phan
Job Title: Photographer
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Job Description: I effectively capture the needs and communicate the ideas of clients. These photos are used to help sell, advertise or market a product, service, person or persons.

What is your personal background? 

I was born in Anaheim, California, then moved to Sydney, Australia for a little bit before ending up in Lubbock, Texas. I pretty much grew up in Lubbock and attended Texas Tech University where I got a Major in Marketing. Then one day I picked up a camera and the rest was history.

What was your first job? 

My first ever job was as a retail associate at Aeropostale. I didn’t know they only hired me for seasonal work, so when they let me go after, I thought it was because I was shy and awful at my job. I went back and convinced them to keep me on as a core member of the team and I would do my best. I ended up working there for almost seven years and moved up to Store Manager and trained new managers within our district.

How did you get your start at Primitive Social? 

My best friend got married the summer of 2018. I never met his cousin before the wedding, but we really hit it off because we were both camera nerds. He mentioned that he had a friend that works for Primitive Social and that they needed a studio intern. I proceeded to look up Primitive Social but didn’t really know how to apply so I put it on the backburner. A week goes by and another friend of mine mentioned Primitive Social so I knew it was a calling and I applied, got the internship, and then got hired a couple of months later!

Your highlights from working at Primitive Social so far? 

I really enjoy my monthly shoots with J&B Coffee. They are such an awesome client to work with because they want us to be as creative as possible with their content. I would buy all these props to stage up the shoots to make them look amazing. They are just so much fun to work with!

What is the most challenging part of your work? 

The most challenging part of my job is that each shoot is always different. No matter how much planning and preparation you do before a shoot, it never fails that a difficult situation arises. It is in those moments when I typically do my best work because it forces me to be creative with the client in mind so that I can deliver my best work to them no matter what.

What does a typical day look like for you? 

I usually come in to the office around 8:30 a.m. unless I have a morning shoot. I don’t ever drink coffee (Yeah, crazy right?) because I’m hypersensitive to caffeine and I don’t want to be bouncing around the walls in the studio room or they will kick me out. If I have a shoot that day I will go through the shot list and mentally prepare myself for the shoot. If not that, then I’m going through photos from previous shoots to edit them and send them off to account managers. Oh, and how can I forget about the daily Pickle Hour?! 


Name one short term goal?

One of my short term goals is to travel to Japan and make some really awesome vlogs and take some amazing photos. One of the biggest reasons I picked up photography is because of how fast travel vlogs rose to popularity in social media.

Who do you admire and how have they influenced you and your work? 

I admire the amazing Studio team that I get to happily work with every day. They have really taught me so much about photography as well as push and drive me to be the best that I can be in my craft. Each week we have a studio meeting and at the end we have what we call Thought Leader. We go around showing each other videos or photos of our own inspiration and try to implement that into our creative work.

What's playing in your car right now? 

More like what’s not playing in my car? I literally listen to all genres of music from red dirt country to hardcore rock. Lately I’ve been jamming to Leon Bridges as well as The Black Keys’ new album. I’m always on the lookout for new music!

What’s something not everyone knows about you? 

Not everyone knows how I got started with my journey with photography and videography. I started going to Comic-cons and decided “Hey, I can make a cool highlight video of these awesome cosplays and upload them on YouTube!” It’s been a little over a year and I’m still doing it. I have met some amazing, talented people attending these conventions and made lifelong friends with them. Here’s a little shameless plug: you can find those videos at Phantasymedia on YouTube!


What was your favorite TV show when you were 10 years old? 

Boy Meets World for sure! Every Saturday morning, I would turn on the TV to see what shenanigans Corey Matthews was up to. Also, the Price Is Right because I played hooky a lot back then and that was the only thing that was on TV besides infomercials.

Who would you most like to have dinner with? 

I would love to have dinner with Gordon Ramsay! In the middle of my college career, I wanted to quit Texas Tech University and go to Austin to attend culinary school. I would practice cooking all the time because it was enjoyable and therapeutic. So why not have dinner with one of the best chefs in the world? Let’s just hope he doesn’t call me an idiot sandwich.

What would be the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery? 

I would buy out this company that sells camera gear, B&H. I’m a big gear head when it comes to camera equipment, just ask Seth. I already spend most of my paycheck there anyway so why not buy the whole company?

List three things on your bucket list. 

  1. Travel the world
  2. Make a feature documentary
  3. Make a feature film

What is the worst advice you’ve ever been given? (And then, of course, the best?) 

Just do it. (This got me into a lot of trouble) Just do it. (This is how I picked up on my career and got me a job at the best agency!)

What is your life motto? 

“If you ain’t first, you're last.” – Ricky Bobby. I always put this as a joke in previous jobs because I never really knew what to put, but it really grew on me. It kinda fits my personality because I’m a very competitive person and try to be the best I can be in everything.

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