Spotlight on Luxxienne: A New Wave of Photography in Richmond

by | May 23, 2024 | FASHION, MUSIC, NIGHTLIFE, PHOTOGRAPHY, QUEER RVA

Say hello to Lucienne Nghiem, known in the digital world as luxxienne, a Richmond-based photographer, whose artistry is painting the town in shades of dream-pop and disco. Lucienne has transformed her passion into a full-time endeavor, infusing her work with a distinct feminine aesthetic inspired by early 2000s chic and the vibrant pulse of 70s disco beats. As we delve into her journey from dabbling in high school photo classes to styling entire shoots as a creative director, Lucienne reflects on the growth of her career and the vibrant Richmond scene that fuels her creativity.

ed. note: This interview was originally published in RVA 40 back in March of 2023, Lucienne is now tour photographer for Chappell Roan. Super happy for her.

Interview with Lucienne Nghiem by R Anthony Harris RVA Magazine 2023

Who are you? I always say your name like Lux-zine. But someone said it’s actually Loose-zine. 

It’s all good. I always say– anything said with love. My real name is Lucienne. I guess a lot of people call me looks Lux on the internet. I don’t really know how the name started, but I like it. It’s cute.

What do you do?

I’m from Richmond and I’m a photographer. I also style, and love to act as a creative director. And I do it full-time now. This is my second year doing it. I hope to get into more tour work this year. I’m definitely thankful to RVA Mag; I think I got my first PhotoPass from you guys about five years ago maybe? 

How long have you been shooting photos?

Six years this year. But I started really taking it seriously three years ago.

Did you go to school for photography?

No, but I did take classes in high school. I had a photo class and a graphic design class. Graphic design caught my eye and the teacher really taught me how to manipulate in Photoshop. 

Your photography seems very feminine and dream-pop-based. Where does the inspiration for your photography come from? Is it a specific era? I see some 70s disco and modern techno in it.

Yeah, my favorite genres of music are pop and hyper pop. I love the 70s Disco vibe. I get most of my inspo from early 2000 movies. I love 13 Going On 30 and all of the girly movies. I’m interested in how those girls in the movies dressed and how they paired accessories, like earrings, with their clothes. I try to get colors to pop. I love sparkly anything–I love pink and red and purple. Love the show Euphoria. 

Interview with Lucienne Nghiem by R Anthony Harris RVA Magazine 2023

How’d you get into event photography?

I used to live right by a coffee shop that did open mic nights on Thursdays. So still to this day, Thursday is my favorite day. When I was in high school, I really wanted to be a makeup/beauty YouTuber. So I got a little digital camera and I started bringing it around to the open mic nights. And I was like, wait, it’s fun to take photos of people who are performing. I was enamored, I would stay really late. I’d be the last one there. 

Later I got disposables from CVS and I started doing photography by shooting birthday parties for my friends, like sweet sixteens. I’d get my photos printed at CVS or Walgreens. One time someone asked if they could pay 20 bucks for one of my rolls of film and I was like wait, you can make money from that? I thought it was so much fun and I just kept doing it. I’ve been doing it ever since. 

I definitely started on film. The photo class I took in high school was film-based and that taught me a lot, like how to shoot with colors and how to get the lighting right. I did give up the YouTuber dream but I definitely still kept up with photos. I’m really thankful to have lived and grown up by that coffee shop. They don’t do open mics anymore, but I’m hoping to find another one in Richmond. 

I snuck my camera into the Bradbury one time five years ago and that was the first show I had ever been to by myself. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea that there was a gate in front of the stage. I remember thinking, what is that? Why are photographers there? I have a camera– why can I be there? So I tap the guy’s shoulder in the front and he told me that I had to have a press pass. He set me aside and explained to me what it was and how to go about getting on. I was like, Whoa, I have no idea what any of this is. But it seems really cool. I did a Google deep dive when I got home. And yeah, I’ve been doing it ever since.

That’s when you hit us up, right? 

Yeah, it was about that time. 

Your work has really matured in the last year and a half. Can you talk about that transition and where your career is going? 

I think I just started taking it seriously. Versus doing casual shoots and casual approaches. Over the last year, I put a lot of thought and effort into how people are dressed and the shoot location, and the lighting. Through friends that are into YouTube, I learned more about lighting and editing this year. I found my own style. I’ve always had a kind of colorful style, but I think I’ve finally found something that I’m happy with and that I’m sticking with. I’m using warm and disco-inspired colors. I’ve also tried to be as booked and busy as possible. And practicing really often is important. I hope I’ve grown over the past year. 

Definitely. You mentioned before the interview that this is your full-time gig now. Was it scary to take that leap?

Very. I used to be a swim teacher and I was happy to quit. Committing to it was scary and stressful, but I think I love it so much that it makes it worth it. I have a lot of friends and people that support me and are willing to help out and assist– they let me borrow clothes for shoots. Having a close loving group of people around you that are supportive is huge. 

What are you excited about for this year?

I’m really excited to start traveling more for gigs. I was in New York a couple of weeks ago. That was the first time I was booked for a photoshoot in New York and the whole experience was eye-opening. And really, really nice. I have a couple of photoshoots booked for the month of March in Nashville that I’m very excited about. 

So yeah, I’m looking forward to going to other places and being not exclusively Richmond-based. Although, you know, my family lives here. I’m from here, and it’ll always be home. 

What do you feel that, as a creative person, Richmond provides for you?

Having grown up in the Richmond creative scene, I feel like everybody knows each other. That’s helpful when you’re trying to get started versus if you had grown up in New York, getting your foot in the door would be harder, just because it’s so concentrated. There are fewer artists here compared to other major cities because fewer people live here. I like the fact that everyone knows each other. There’s a sense of community here, which is unmatched in a lot of other major cities. I loved being raised here because of that. 

Almost anybody can pick up a camera and start going, right?

Totally. And I hope people do. Make friends here. I think that’s the only way to get your foot in the door. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Give her a follow at HERE

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me




more in music

The Only Richmond Juneteenth Bash You Need to Be At

This June 19, 2024, in observation of Juneteenth 2024, Cassidy Snider brings together and curates her third annual celebration concert. Sharing the stage with a wide range of Richmond music artists of color each bringing diverse musical styles from Songwriters, MC’s,...

Shagg Carpet: New Villains of Richmond Post Punk

Stopping in before a pre-tour practice, I talked with Richmond hotshots Shagg Carpet. The group formed in the sunny college days of 2022 when high school friends Laurel (guitar), Austyn (keys), and Brett (drums) saw Rook (vocals and mysterious masked figure) lounging...

Photos from the sold out Dale Watson show at Get Tight Lounge

Last week, Get Tight Lounge in Richmond was packed for a sold-out show featuring none other than Dale Watson, the torchbearer of classic honky-tonk. The atmosphere was electric, and the crowd was buzzing as photographer Ben Lahoussine captured an unforgettable...

Finding My Way to Tommy Stinson and Peter Jesperson

As any exciting story begins, it was a Monday night and my plans had just been canceled. With the news of my new availability, I decided to take up a friend on an offer. The scene takes me to a familiar spot, a beautiful home across the river with a small lit sign...

Wave That Flag! Richmond’s Pride 2024 Events Are Here to Slay

We are a little late on this but Virginia Pride has unveiled the schedule for its annual "Endless Summer of Pride" campaign, a celebration of the Richmond region's LGBTQ community. The campaign kicked off on May 31 with a pride flag-raising ceremony at City Hall,...

Mdou Moctar, Los Malcriados & Kendall Street Company: Sound Check

It's a busy time of year, with kids getting out school, vacations being planned who knows what else on the docket, but that doesn't mean you can't time for a little music in your life. All over the city all week long you can find it if you're looking, but let me give...