Paris street life with Lina Trinh and the Nikon Z f

Lina TrinhPotovanja in pokrajine20 okt. 20236 min. branja

Photography is about capturing a small fragment of someone’s story, says street photographer Lina Trinh. Uncovering the new Nikon Z f, Lina chats about the camera, light and shadow and why shooting in low light has never been easier

Lina Trinh started documenting the empty streets of Paris during lockdown and, as the people slowly began to return, her focus shifted to capturing those little human moments in the City of Light. Most recently, she got her hands on the new Nikon Z f and we sat down with her to talk about the camera, her style and her top tips on street photography.

Lina Trinh
What’s in my kitbag?

Nikon magazine: Hi Lina, tell us, how did your photography journey start?

Lina Trinh: I’m an art director and graphic designer in advertising, and during the Covid-19 lockdown I had time to think about what it is that I really loved. I had always had a passion for photography, but it was never something I considered as a ‘job’ for myself. But, in 2019, I bought a professional camera and went outside to take pictures of Paris, where I live, practising composition. At that time, the city was empty because of Covid-19, so I was really enjoying taking pictures of the architecture and experimenting with light. Slowly, as the city came back to life, I started to shoot the people – those small, spontaneous interactions and mundane moments, which are the things I had missed: a woman walking her dog, a couple laughing. It made me feel more connected to the city, and that’s why my work is now a combination of architecture and moments with people.


Do you think your experience in taking architectural shots helped you with composition?

Definitely. It helped me learn about lighting, because during that time I could only walk around a certain distance from my home, so I had to walk the same streets, seeing the same buildings, day after day. Every day, I would notice something different about the same spaces – the way light would hit walls at different times of day, the different textures of buildings, glass, mirrors.


Your work uses a lot of shadow and contrast. How do you go about achieving that look?

Most of the time I’m not trying to find it. I just see things that interest me and take the shot. As an art director, I’m a very visual person and I see those things when I’m out for a walk. In terms of the technical side, I shoot full manual and RAW and I tend to underexpose.


When you shoot people, do you do it from far away or do you engage with the subjects at all?

I tend to stay back. And in the daytime I often use the monitor, lowering the camera away from head height so people don’t know I’m taking pictures. At night, though, I use the viewfinder more because I find it easier to check the light that way.


What lenses do you use?

Usually, I use a NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S, as I like the spontaneity of the moments and the authenticity. Mostly, I carry the 85mm and the NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S. The 85mm is used more when I want to focus on a particular subject, whether that’s a person or an architectural detail, whereas the 35mm is used to capture the ambience of the city.


So would you recommend primes over a zoom?
I love the depth of field of lower apertures. It creates a cinematic feel to the images. And, for someone starting out, I think the 35mm is such a good lens because it’s close to what the eye sees, so you can capture how you see the world.


You got to use the Nikon Z f. What was that experience like?

So nice! I loved the look. Having that vintage look with all the technology of a really modern camera was great. Of course, the quality of the images is also really, really good.


Were you using your regular lens set-up?

Yes, the 85mm and the 35mm. But I also had a NIKKOR Z 26mm f/2.8, which is not usual for me, so that was really interesting. You have to be closer to people to shoot with the wide-angle, which was out of my comfort zone as I usually like to be further away. But it was interesting for me to challenge myself.


You shoot a lot in low light. How did the Z f perform there?

It was so sharp! I was using 1/150 or 1/180 shutter speed at blue hour and the VR helped me to take really sharp shots. My usual settings are f/1.8 or maximum f/2.8, with ISO set at 1,600 to a max of 3,200. But even at 3,200 the Z f was impressive, with really sharp images and very little noise.



What’s next for you?

I’ve just moved to a new part of Paris, so there are lots of new things to shoot – new buildings, new people. Paris is a city that never sleeps – there is always someone doing something. There are so many stories to tell, and I like to take pictures that are a small fragment of someone’s story. I like to feed the imagination of the viewer so they can feel in the moment with the subject and imagine what is happening and what happens next.



What advice would you give someone starting out with street photography?
The first thing I would say is don’t worry about taking thousands of bad pictures. We all do it. That’s what will teach you and teach your eye. You learn from mistakes, so always take pictures and practise. That way, your consistency will improve and there will be more and more good pictures in among the bad. Also, be curious about the things you observe. Look closely at people, what they are doing, how they gesture when talking. You’re always looking for something interesting, something appealing in street photography, something that tells that little story. Keep going.

Možnosti deljenja z drugimi

Discover the Nikon Z f

Featured products

More in travel and landscape

7 min. branja
Potovanja in pokrajine13 okt. 2023Ben Moore

The urban landscape with Ben Moore

7 min. branja
CreateYourLight Theme 11 "Urban Sports Photography" asset
Šport in akcija 06 jun. 2023Little Shao

Capturing urban sport on the streets of Paris with the Nikon Z 50

11 min read
Potovanja in pokrajine17 jan. 2023Marion Payr

Develop your creative eye with Marion Payr


For limitless creativity