Readers of my facebook page will be well aware that last month, Laura and I were travelling around Vietnam. The purpose of the trip wasn’t travel photography in Vietnam, but to explore and meet people from this fabulous country, eat some nice food, and drink some good cocktails. That is exactly what we did and along the way I tried to capture the spirit and essence of the country as best as I could through the viewfinder. I took along my Fuji XPro 1, and despite meeting the concrete from a decent height on two occasions, it performed admirably, and I thoroughly enjoyed not lugging around a large SLR and a selection of heavy lenses! Laura carried the Fuji x20 and I hope to blog some of her images soon, as I’ve had many requests for further images with this little camera since my review a few weeks ago.
Vietnam is a country featuring a multitude of very different landscapes and ways of living, making it a photographer’s dream in terms of capturing varied images within one trip. However each area had its own set of challenges when it came to shooting. We started our trip in the capital, Hanoi. It is the definition of ‘hustle and bustle’, with street sellers galore, and more scooters than you can imagine. Interesting photo opportunities are in abundance but the difficulty then lies in finding a ‘clean’ shot, some early morning starts were definitely required here! Conversely, the idyllic hill town of Bac Ha, which we reached via an interesting overnight train has a more simple way of life – buffalo’s are used to plough the fields, and double up as commuter vehicles for the kids! Here, we were challenged by the weather as thick mist often covered the beautiful landscape. However the times when it lifted slightly added an extra layer of ‘rustic charm’ to the images captured. From here we hopped on a junk around the karst islands of Halong Bay, seeing some spectacular landscapes, before flying to the more commercialised Hoi An, which still manages to retains its charm and was one of our favourite places. A quick stop over in the westernised and modern Ho Chi Minh (formally Saigon), before a rain filled visit to the waterways and floating markets of the Mekong Delta. Finally we chilled out on the beaches around the stunning island of Phu Quoc – enjoying warm waters, sun and a few beers!
From the bustling cities, to the colourful hill tribes, we enjoyed; green tea with builders, crazy scooter rides, lost wedding rings (mine!), flying fish, pigs on bus roofs, frogs legs, beautiful sunrises and lots more. We visited as much of Vietnam as possible and had an amazing time. We met lots of lovely locals and equally lovely fellow travellers, I can highly recommend a visit to this happy, colourful, friendly, interesting and lively place!
The common thread throughout the trip was the interaction between the locals, strong family bonds and close knit communities, working and socialising together. As I take a similar approach to my travel photography as that for my wedding photography, focussing on the people and telling a story with my images was my photographic aim. I took a fair few shots during the trip, and have narrowed it down to my favourite 50 that represent the country and its people…
Via Thomas Menk