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Student fights to survive with camera in hand

Written by Dowling Payne


Lights, cameras and action—a lot of action.

It all came together in the dorms of VSU. A combination of those three along three students is what formed SurviveFight Productions, a photography, cinematography and graphic design company.

Behind the lens of SurviveFight is Graham Nguyen, a 19-year-old sophomore mass media major from Montgomery, Ala.  Nguyen first held a camera as a child and started snapping away. He hasn’t stopped since.

“I love the emotional aspects,” Nguyen said. “You can control what the viewer feels when they look at the photo.”

Nguyen created the business’ name with his own outlook on life in mind. “We all have our battles, but if you’re always fighting for what you believe in, it’s worth it,” he says. “It’s not about the surviving, it’s about the fight.”

In 2011, Nguyen and two of his buddies, Tanny Luong and David Hawthorne, started shooting videos and realized their similar visions and interests could be promising for creating something special.  Soon after, they began filming automotive drifting events in tandem with YOLO Drift from Cordele, Ga.

“Graham and I have always had similar ideas, we just click.” Hawthorne said. “SurviveFight is something that shows promise. We all put in the same amount of work, and it’s good to be a part of something everyone in the group wants so much.”

Luong, who also contributes to the vision of SurviveFight, was at a loss for words when asked why the group works so well together. “We just click,” he said.

As far as the future of SurviveFight goes, it’s all about rolling with the punches. Every month brings new projects to the table. More recently, the team has been shooting a TV series proposal to be pitched to the Discovery Channel.

“We don’t have the best equipment or spend the most money, but we do the best with what we have,” Nguyen said.

Along with video work, Nguyen is a highly skilled photographer. What first started as taking senior portraits for friends has turned into a steady business.

While Nguyen originally didn’t think college was for him, he quickly found a reason to be at VSU. “Being among so many people with common goals is motivating,” he said. “It’s unifying.”

Nguyen credits his motivation to his long time girlfriend, also a student at VSU, who strongly supports him and his work.

“I don’t like doing things like everyone else,” Nguyen said. “I’ve learned to do it all in my own way.”

Nguyen encourages all students to discover their vision and work toward it. “If it’s not difficult, then it’s not worth it,” he said.

For more information about SurviveFight and to view Nguyen’s photography, visit survivefight.tumblr.com or add Nguyen on Instagram: @grahamnguyen.

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