Photography, from Hanoi with Love.
Notes from our recent trip to Vietnam.
“I slowly, slowly, bit by bit, convinced him, Binh Dang, to take up photography.” said Hai Thanh, veteran Vietnamese photographer and a finalist of the IPA Street Photography Contest 2012. And that seems to be the trend in the current breed of documentary and contemporary photographers in Vietnam, or at least Hanoi – picking up the craft from fields outside of photography.
Hai Thanh and Binh Dang are both Graphic Design graduates from the Hanoi Industrial Fine Arts University. While Hai Thanh is a full-time photographer working with NGO assignments and on personal projects, Binh Dang holds daily forte as a graphic designer and photographs personal projects as and when time, finances allow.
Maika Elan, a Sociology graduate from the University of Social Science and Humanities, is now one of the country’s most popular names in contemporary photography. “She is the most famous at the moment.” proudly said Hai Thanh, Maika’s new husband. They just tied the knot on the day before Christmas 2012, and we were honored to be guests at their wonderful and modest ceremony.
The wedding was attended by photographers from Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh, and most of them have successful careers in commercial photography and weddings in Vietnam. Two other young photographers being encouraged by this community to pursue more personal photography include Hue-based Quốc Anh and Pham Ngoc Lan, who we previously met at the Angkor Photo Festival 2011.
Maika Elan’s success and popularity in Vietnam is quite intriguing. The documentary and art photography scene is very small, and as with other countries, dominated mostly by men. Her latest project, The Pink Choice, a series of intimate portraits of gay vietnamese couples, was overwhelmingly received in conservative Vietnam. We were told, the Goethe Institut in Hanoi where The Pink Choice was exhibited, had never seen such a huge, enthusiastic response to a photographic exhibition there before. Coincidently, The Pink Choice was also one of the most popular features on our blog in 2012.
During our recent trip to Hanoi, we were both inspired and encouraged by the photographers there. They are pragmatic and aware of the challenges they face in their country, but wonderfully idealistic in their pursuits. We look forward to returning soon, and we will.
Photography, from Hanoi with Love on IPA:
- Photo Essay: The Pink Choice, by Maika Elan
- Photographer Spotlight: Hai Thanh, Vietnam
- Photo Essay: Small Things, by Binh Dang
- Photo Essay: Vietnamese Chronicle, by Pham Ngoc Lan
- Street Photography Asia 2012 Finalist: Hai Thanh, Vietnam
- Photo Essay: Smells like Indian Spirit, by Maika Elan
- Photo Essay: Possible Life, by Binh Dang
- Photo Essay: Here comes Thaipusam, by Maika Elan
- Photo Essay: Spiritual Nomads, by Hai Thanh