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Tourists snap up shots of daily life (April 15, 2003)

Drenched: Doan Duc Minh’s take on the daily shower.
Two photographers, Doan Duc Minh and Ba Han, are recognised as the successes of Viet Nam’s postcard industry.

Photographers in HCM City try taking pictures to make postcards, but few of them have had the success of Minh and Han.

It appears to be very difficult to turn beautiful award-winning pictures into best-selling post cards.

These photos are not suited to postcards because they can be too perfect in terms of light, structure and content, Minh explains. He adds that such pictures are sometimes staged.

Postcards are a cultural product. Taking pictures for postcards is similar to press photography, according to Minh. It is a kind of record of the way of life in a community.

Postcards which show moments of life in Viet Nam and moods of people sell better than scenic pictures.

Such pictures are lively and travellers know about normal life, religion and culture in Viet Nam, said a group of tourists when interviewed by the Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper as to why they bought particular cards.

Postcards are produced to attract tourists’ attention, as up to 95 per cent of them are bought by foreigners. As well as sending the cards to their friends, tourists use the pictures to help choose the places they want to go.

However, it is not right for a photographer to simply pander to foreigners’ tastes, said Minh. The photographer should have an idea for each picture when he takes it.

Ba Han entered this industry in 1994, making his debut with a collection entitled Mot Thoang Viet Nam (A Glimpse of Viet Nam).

I make postcards due to my professional self-respect, Han said. At present, Han has about 200 designs.

Han also states that a camera cannot frame all of what he wants. Han travels a lot and shoots beautiful scenery throughout the country as well as people in different areas.

"I’m a photographer and I try to snap what I see by chance with all my emotion."

The photograph needs to show the small details because these help tourists understand about Vietnamese people and the country, Minh said.

Now, he has more than 100 designs which are processed in Singapore before being printed in Viet Nam.

The two photographers are preparing to launch new designs in the next month. They will not disclose the subject of the photographs, but say they are new, lively and suffused with love for the homeland. — VNS

Reprinted with permission from Vietnam News Agency


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