I purchased my first ‘serious’ camera in 2011, whilst living in Vietnam. The camera was a Sony Nex5n, and there was nothing wrong with it. However, my skill level was low and I had a lot to learn. My lens choice followed the idea of ‘the bigger the better’ (I may have been right there….). Everything was shot using JPEG.
I have selected some of my favourite portraits taken whilst living in Vietnam (2011-2013). The portraits chosen are of colourful characters, and it felt a pity to leave the images forgotten about. Lightroom, Photoshop, Luminar Neo, and Topaz De-noise have been used to enhance each image. There are still flaws with each photo and I clearly had a lot to learn. However, technology has improved and has helped bring a fresh look to each image.
One aspect of portrait photography is how a photo can trigger memories. The above photo is certainly flawed and was taken in low light. However, it brings back memories of a chicken dinner at a roadside cafe with pigs running round my feet. The meal probably tasted even better as I was wet and cold after ditching a broken motorbike and was hitching back home to Saigon. The noise in the photo was removed using Topaz Noise Removal.
The Hmong people form the largest tribe in Sapa, North Vietnam. I would return there for more photography in a heartbeat. This lady was selling her goods in the village centre and was happy to pose for a photo (I’m sure I purchased something to return the favour!)
This week I am planning to go through my archive in search of my favourite portraits. Coming up (hopefully) will be images from China, Thailand, India, and New Zealand.
All images in this article are my own, as I lack the rights to publish work from the artists discussed.
“To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Just as a camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a subliminal murder – a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time.” ― Susan Sontag (1977)