Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary


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Wanderlust Tips had an interesting talk with young photographer Tran Tuan Viet. Despite his lack of training in photography, his passion for photography has brought him numerous honors in photographic communities in the world such as National Geographic and the Smithsonian.

Tran Tuan Viet is a young photographer. After graduating from the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Civil Engineering, he should have been an architect but Viet pursued an information technology career and committed to his camera. Currently, Tran Tuan Viet is the director of an information technology company but has never given up his passion for photography.

Wanderlust Tips Magazine | Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary

Having gotten acquainted with photography 10 years ago, by 2017 Tran Tuan Viet has achieved certain success on the path of a professional photographer. Viet’s photos were displayed at Hanoi Art Gallery and the National Art Gallery, and he has also won several international awards in the United States, Italy, Argentina, India, Finland, Greece, Spain and the Czech Republic. Some of Tran Tuan Viet’s works were selected as some of the most beautiful photos of the day by major photographic communities of the world such as National Geographic and the Smithsonian.

Tran Tuan Viet has had 13 photos selected for the “Most Beautiful Photos of the Day – Daily Dozen”, and has most of Vietnam’s selected photos in the Daily Dozen category until today. Viet is also only the second Vietnamese with photos posted on VISIONS’ featured category on the front pages of the magazine where some of the most unique images from around the world are posted.

Each photographer pursues a different shooting style and topic. What is yours? What inspires you to go on a hunt for beautiful photos?

I am a true visual storyteller. My photo stories mainly focus on Vietnamese life, traditional villages and working people. Vietnamese rustic simplicity is what drives me to learn, empathise and capture meaningful moments.

Good photographers often enjoy taking pictures of Northwest Vietnam’s poetic landscape, overseas countries, or trendy destinations. So what about you? Do you choose trendy themes (rice season, rice terraces, cloud chasing or beautiful people)?

Wanderlust Tips Magazine | Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary

Most photographers pursue those trends. And Vietnamese photographers are not really impressive, because they are not specialised in any field. They may be landscape photographers for one day, then become portrait photographers the next day, and compose daily-life photos the following day. Previously, I also followed in this turnaround and seasonal trend as many other photographers. However, with the desire to be different, I aim to become a visual storyteller who can capture pictures of everyday life, traditional jobs, and things that will fade with time.

In your opinion, what makes a photograph beautiful? What are the difficulties behind good works?

A beautiful photograph, in my personal opinion, besides technical factors and fine art, must also convey an attractive, deep and meaningful content. When I first got acquainted with cameras, I had to glean from foreign documents to learn about shooting techniques, to master the camera. You need a long time to train yourself to learn to convey the art, content or meaning in your photo. Sometimes, you must take a thousand shots just to catch the most beautiful moment. For me, the most difficulties are learning to master the camera, processing the photos after shooting and always finding good topics to follow.

Can you tell a story behind a photo that you feel is the most impressive in your photography career?

I have a lot of memories with my photos, however the making incense photos published in June 2017 in the Visions of Earth category of the National Geographic is my most impressive. It captures the picture of a woman working as an incense maker in Quang Phu Cau Village, Ung Hoa, Hanoi. Through the picture, I want to convey the story of incense – the bridge to connect the visible life of human beings and the world of heaven, earth and gods – making incense has been a traditional job in Vietnam for thousand of years.

Could you share your secret with young Vietnamese photographer so they know how their photos could catch the eye of international publications?

Wanderlust Tips Magazine | Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary

My secret is to tell realistic, true and unique photo stories which can only be captured in Vietnam. If the picture is associated with traditional culture it is more wonderful. Because this is a distinctive, different feature of our identity and and that makes for an extremely interesting story of culture, history and habits.

Many international friends feel very curious when seeing my pictures. They do not know what incense are, so I explain that this incense is associated with the ancestor worship custom of the Vietnamese. Then when shooting the Stilt Fishermen on Hai Hau Beach in Nam Dinh, there were a lot of people surprised, then I explained to them that this is how they catch shrimp and fish. Thanks to such stories, many photographers have come to me to ask about Vietnam, they also ask where they can go to capture such beautiful pictures.

What advices do you have for photography lovers pursuing professional photography?

I think, to pursue a photography career, you need to keep your passion. Keep learning, exploring, creating and finding out what is unique about yourself by being rigorous with your works. Without true passion and learning spirit, you will end up feeling downhearted when facing challenges, because becoming a professional photographer is not a bed of roses; in fact it is very hard.

Which is the most impressive destination in Vietnam for you? If you had to pick 5 destinations for 2017, what destinations would you choose?

Selecting 5 destinations for 2017, I would choose: Quang Binh with Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, Quang Ninh with Ha Long Bay, Yen Bai with spectacular terraces, the ancient capital Ninh Binh with beautiful and historical sites and finally the capital Hanoi – the heart of the country. My dream destination is the cave system of Quang Binh, especially Son Doong Cave.

Recently, there are a lot of people interested in shooting photos and they have good cameras and travel to many places, but what are the differences between a tourist taking pictures and a real photographer? Does the fact that everyone can own a camera, can travel, and can shoot to take pictures lead to any problem?

Wanderlust Tips Magazine | Finding the extraordinary in the ordinary

A traveller only needs to capture pictures wherever they go. A real photographer will invest time to give meaningful value to each photo. They will always demand higher quality after every shot. Today, people seem to be very confused between amateur photographers and a true photographer. Personally, I find it leads to many problems, such as many people using the camera to do bad things, or take pictures to satisfy themselves, or take meaningful photos to become famous, or get likes on Facebook.

Do you plan on publishing photo books and where is your next destination for photography?

When I feel capable and my photo collection is large enough, I will publish a photo book and hold my own exhibitions. With my photo style as I said, my next destination is still the traditional villages of Hanoi.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with Wanderlust Tips. We wish you success in the journey of bringing the Vietnamese soul to the world trough photography.

Hong Nhung | Wanderlust Tips

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