A unique moment captured in time

With more than 10 photo books already published, independent photographer Nguyen A’s latest offering is Vietnamese Spirit and the Fight Against COVID-19.

 An overview of Vietnamese people from all walks during the pandemic, the 340-page book is largely dedicated to the doctors and healthcare staff who worked in dangerous conditions and made sacrifices to save patients. The HCM City-based photographer spoke with Thuy Hang about how he has cultivated his passion for photography over the last three decades.

A unique moment captured in time
SHUTTERBUG: Nguyen A has released his newest photo book, Tinh Thần Việt Và Cuộc Chiến Chống Đại Dịch COVID-19 (Vietnamese Spirit and the Fight Against COVID-19). - Photo courtesy of the artist

Where did the idea for the book come from?

Staying abreast of the news is instinctual for me. At the beginning of February, when the coronavirus began to spread in Vietnam, I started capturing photos on the subject without even really thinking about it. By chance, I was in Muong Khuong at the time, a border area in northern mountainous Yen Bai Province, taking photos of border patrols, who ended up playing a key role in COVID-19 prevention, as a larger number of people cross into Vietnam along any number of jungle trails.

These patrols are out all night, drinking water from streams when necessary, and live in military tents when back at base. On rainy days, when they can’t fire up their stone stoves, they have only instant noodles to nibble on. I admire these people very much, having witnessed the poor conditions in which they work and live. The hardships they bore brought a tear to my eye at times.

After taking photos of these patrols, the idea for a larger photo collection on the theme “Vietnamese Spirit” began to form in my mind and I began photographing other people to round out the concept.

From thousands of photos, I selected 400 for the book, which depict acts of kindness as well as the challenges and difficulties doctors, health workers, and others faced. The main photos in the collection revolve around the work and sacrifice of doctors and staff at hospitals in Hanoi, HCM City, and central Quang Nam Province, who did whatever they could to save lives.

A unique moment captured in time
A DISTANCE AWAY: People waiting for a COVID-19 test at the Lao Cai Provincial Military Command’s quarantine centre. The photo is among the 400 featured in Nguyen A’s new book. - Photo courtesy of the artist

Are there any special memories you would care to share with us?

I remember every trip, every encounter, and every person I met. I can’t forget them. The day people finish their period of quarantine, however, I always found inspiring. This is when people tend to reveal their true emotions, and I wanted to capture those moments.

The night when Bach Mai Hospital - the largest in Vietnam to be identified as a COVID-19 hotspot - came out of lockdown on April 12 after two weeks is also an unforgettable memory. I waited out the front of the hospital from 8pm until 1am to capture the “historic moment”. I also felt a surge of emotion at the time.

I had a similar feeling when I captured the moment a new-born girl arrived in our world. Her young mother was in a quarantine centre in central Quang Nam Province together with more than 200 other pregnant women, who had all returned to Vietnam from Taiwan at the end of May.

I was also the only photographer with access to the famed British pilot, Patient 91, at Cho Ray Hospital in HCM City. I paid five visits to the hospital over the course of a month to take photos of him. He was uncomfortable with my presence at first, but when I explained that the photos were to honour the ethics of Vietnamese doctors and healthcare workers, he let me do my job.

You seem to travel here and there quite a lot. How much travel was involved in this project?

I took dozens of trips around the country, from Hanoi to HCM City, from Yen Bai in the north to the Mekong Delta provinces in the south, from Quang Ninh near China to Binh Duong near HCM City. I visited many places more than once. And sometimes I ventured out at night to follow unexpected happenings. I was always ready for the unexpected.

 

To be able to travel frequently and endure poor living conditions, I try to keep in shape. My hobbies are walking, biking, and working out. I don’t smoke or drink.

Good health allows me to engage in projects that not only require me to be constantly on the move but also take intense concentration, such as when I was taking photos for the book. One time I had to take an arduous voyage on a sea patrol ship through the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelagos. I also experienced the hardship and exhaustion of coal mine workers when I spent a few months living and “working” deep underground with them at the Ha Lam coal mine in Quang Ninh.

A unique moment captured in time
AT WORK: Nguyen A photographed while himself photographing the British pilot, Patient 91, at Cho Ray Hospital in HCM City. - Photo courtesy of the artist

How do you maintain your passion and enthusiasm for photography?

It has been 32 years since I first became acquainted with photography and decided it would become my career. After a few years of photographing models and scenery, I realised that beauty is not only created by make-up or by picturesque landscapes. I can see the beauty of hard labour. Through encounters with the disadvantaged, I have found a beauty of spirit and effort to overcome obstacles.

The more I travel, the more I see the country as being beautiful and the more I realise that every second of life is worth living. Each beautiful moment comes from blood and sweat and the intelligence of people in different occupations. I hope my photos can preserve such moments.

How did you manage to finance your book without a sponsor?

I never think about the cost. The only thing that drives me to engage in what I do is my passion.

Of the 13 photo books I have published, three were done on order. Fortunately, those deals gave me enough to pay for the printing of the other books. Other costs I cover from photography services and one time I even made money from selling a house.

I always believe that once I devote myself to a particular endeavour then opportunity will come. And then I plunge into new challenges.

Many people say your photos give them a positive vibe and reveal your effort and labour. What do you see?

Whenever I look at my photos, it feels like I’m meeting these people again. I can recall the feelings I experienced when I photographed them, which I found was a new source of energy.

I have learned a lot from the people I photographed - the effort of the disadvantaged to overcome obstacles, the creativity and enthusiasm of young volunteers, the passion for research among scientists, the determination of soldiers to protect their people and country. They give me endless motivation. VNS

Vietnamese authors release pandemic-themed books

Vietnamese authors release pandemic-themed books

More pandemic-themed books written by Vietnamese authors have been released to offer readers an overview of life in Vietnam during the COVID-19 pandemic.

VN publishers give free e-books to readers

VN publishers give free e-books to readers

Vietnamese publishing houses are offering free e-books to entertain their readers over the long break. 

 
 

Other News

.
Pleasure found from the act of creation
Pleasure found from the act of creation
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  15/11/2020 

Nguyen Son is a talented architect, without doubt. But painting is his real passion, and represents something close to salvation.

17-year record broken at 2020 National Athletics Championship
17-year record broken at 2020 National Athletics Championship
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  14/11/2020 

Nguyen Thi Oanh won the women's 10,000-metre category in 34 minutes 08 seconds 54 at the on-going 2020 National Athletics Championship on Friday afternoon, breaking a 17-year record.

Musician shares his career viewpoints
Musician shares his career viewpoints
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  14/11/2020 

The Vincom Center for Contemporary Art (VCCA) on Saturday will host a talk with musician Ngo Hong Quang, who aims to honour the values of Vietnamese music through contemporary work.

Italian Film Fest offers public a glimpse of contemporary Italian cinema
Italian Film Fest offers public a glimpse of contemporary Italian cinema
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  14/11/2020 

A collection of five Italian movies will be presented to Vietnamese viewers during the Italian Film Festival 2020 taking place in Hanoi from November 13 to 17.

HBSO presents ballet night at Opera House
HBSO presents ballet night at Opera House
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  14/11/2020 

The HCM City Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO) will stage contemporary and classical ballets choreographed by Vietnamese and international artists at the HCM City Opera House on November 14.

First HCM City Short Film Contest 2020 launched
First HCM City Short Film Contest 2020 launched
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  14/11/2020 

Young people and students around the country are encouraged to participate in the HCM City Short Film Contest 2020, which was launched by the HCM City Cinematography Association with its partners this week. 

European films to hit national cinemas
European films to hit national cinemas
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  14/11/2020 

Movie buffs will have an opportunity to watch top European movies at a film festival from November 20 to December 3. 

Beauties dazzle during final round of Miss Vietnam 2020
Beauties dazzle during final round of Miss Vietnam 2020
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  13/11/2020 

The final 35 contestants of Miss Vietnam competed for the Miss Sea, Miss Tourism, and Miss Sports sub-titles in Vung Tau city on November 12 ahead of the pageant’s grand final.

Tiara for Miss Vietnam 2020 pageant unveiled
Tiara for Miss Vietnam 2020 pageant unveiled
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  13/11/2020 

The organisers of Miss Vietnam 2020 revealed the luxury tiara to a press conference in Vung Tau city on November 11 that will be presented to the competition’s winning beauty queen.

Cultural talk about Vietnam’s sacred guardian animal
Cultural talk about Vietnam’s sacred guardian animal
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  14/11/2020 

The Friends of Vietnam Heritage on Sunday will hold a talk about nghê – a sacred animal that guards temples, communal houses in Vietnam. The talk is to honour the Vietnam’s Cultural Heritage Day on November 23.

Hoang grows up after early career stumbles
Hoang grows up after early career stumbles
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  14/11/2020 

The Vietnam U22 team have been training at the Vietnam Youth Football Training Centre in Hanoi since the beginning of this month to prepare for the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2021 to be held in Vietnam.

New contemporary dance on life challenges to be staged
New contemporary dance on life challenges to be staged
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  14/11/2020 

Vietnamese-Canadian choreographer John Huy Tran and his troupe Urban Dance Group will stage his new contemporary dance titled Revival on November 28 and 29 at Dancenter Vietnam.

Franco-Vietnamese Days of Innovation opens in HCM City
Franco-Vietnamese Days of Innovation opens in HCM City
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  13/11/2020 

Two innovation programmes will be offered during the third Franco-Vietnamese Days of Innovation on November 13-14 in HCM City.

Trending tells you nothing about what’s good
Trending tells you nothing about what’s good
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  14/11/2020 

Despite bearing teasers about sexual issues, offensive music, or ludicrous content, or perhaps because of these, there are many low-quality videos that somehow find their way on to YouTube’s Top Trending chart, 

Famous exercise guru shares her tips about staying strong during COVID-19
Famous exercise guru shares her tips about staying strong during COVID-19
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  14/11/2020 

Exercising has become a new lifestyle in Vietnam with more and more people following a regular exercise regimen.

Various activities to highlight capital city’s culture
Various activities to highlight capital city’s culture
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  13/11/2020 

A series of activities to spotlight the cultural identities of the capital city of Hanoi will be held from November 20 to December 15.

Hollywood studio to remake Vietnamese action comedy
Hollywood studio to remake Vietnamese action comedy
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  12/11/2020 

The US’s Universal Pictures has announced it will craft a new version of Vietnamese action comedy Saigon Bodyguards starring American actor Chris Pratt and Chinese actor Wu Jing.

Vietnam may be off 2021 Formula 1 agenda
Vietnam may be off 2021 Formula 1 agenda
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  12/11/2020 

Vietnam has been dropped from the provisional calendar for the 2021 Formula 1 season.

Film festival to offer glimpse of contemporary Italian cinema
Film festival to offer glimpse of contemporary Italian cinema
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  12/11/2020 

The Italian Film Festival will be held in Hanoi from November 13 to 17 to offer the Vietnamese public a glimpse of contemporary Italian cinema.

After success with Viettel, goalie Manh targets return to national team
After success with Viettel, goalie Manh targets return to national team
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  12/11/2020 

Goalkeeper Tran Nguyen Manh has been a rock at the back for Viettel FC and played a key role in their journey to become V.League 1 champions.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN