Vietnam Art Books -- Photo book captures VietNam’s soul

Photo book captures VietNam’s soul

Le Van Khoi, 1993.

HA NOI — When Peter Steinhauer was a child in Boulder, Colorado, and saw the photos his father sent him of the war in Viet Nam, he often asked himself about the country behind the images.

The young man became more and more interested in the question and the country on the other side of the Earth, but it wasn’t until 1993 that he arrived in Viet Nam with a camera.

He graduated from the Colorado Institute of Art that year with a degree in photography, and moved to Ha Noi.

"Since then, I’ve discovered many things about Viet Nam," Steinhauer says.

Steinhauer has gathered these insights through his many field trips all over the country.

The 36-year-old photographer has recently published some of his images in the book Viet Nam: Portraits and Landscapes.

The book, which features 70 black-and-white images he captured with a medium- or large-format camera, is the result of seven years of immersion in the culture of Viet Nam.

His photographs are his personal response to the culture and the people, and penetrate to the heart of modern Viet Nam.

The deep echoes of Vietnamese tradition, he says, were the inspiration for the photographs.

The black-and-white images combine elements of journalistic and artistic photography, and chronicle the daily lives of the people and the power and beauty of the landscape.

Steinhauer’s dramatic landscapes reveal the astounding diversity of Viet Nam, from the lush mountains and thick fog of the north, the white sands of the coast and the intricate maze of the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.

His portraits, meanwhile, reflect his fascination and profound respect for the people, from the innocence of the very young to the textured faces of those who have endured upheavals and hardships throughout their lives.

"I hoped these portraits would also capture my feelings for the people," Steinhauer says.

The photographer has lived in Viet Nam since 1993, and his images were being published in B&W Magazine, Communication Arts, Newsweek, Asiaweek and Asian Art News within a year.

He moved to HCM City in 1996 to open an advertising studio, where he worked for multinational advertising agencies while he pursued his personal work.

That year, photographs from his Portraits and Landscapes project earned him the Communication Arts Award for outstanding photography.

Ha Long Bay, 1994.
His work has been exhibited in Asia and around the world, and he has published other books including Ha Noi Streets, Roofs and Houses, Ethnic Minorities of Viet Nam and Vietnamese Lacquer Painting: A New Age.

After seven and a half years of living in Viet Nam, Steinhauer moved to Singapore last year, where he continues his personal gallery work and book projects. — VNS

Reprinted with permission of Vietnam News Agency.

Peter Steinhauer’s website:


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