Results Of ‘Building Visual Stories’ 1st Workshop

Building visual stories with photographer Hai Thanh” workshop just took place from 9th to 13th January 2017 at B Coffee Lounge, Ho Chi Minh city with the participation of 8 mostly young and budding photographers. Despite their differences in visual styles, point of views and goals, they all wish to develop storytelling skills by working on personal photography projects. Below is the summary of the workshop, introduction of participants and their remarks on the result.

Phong Nguyen – Dear Emma,
Matca has introduced Phong Nguyen in the article about his ‘bookshelf’. This time Phong brings to the workshop an emotional series about Emma – his wife, and the dog and cat rescue center where their love has began.

Photograph by Tan Ngoc.
Photograph by Tin Phung.

Nguyen Minh Hoang – Evanescent Encounters
Just returning to Vietnam from his study in the US, Hoang is currently spending time wandering the country to seek an answer to the question “Where do I belong?”. His series is a thank-you to “people who have come and shared with [him] a piece of their life”.

To Hoang, the most important thing in the workshop is making new friends. However, he wants to have more time for editing and clearer guidance and evaluation from the mentor as this is highly subjective work. He also emphasizes that pre-workshop preparation and a firm plan for the workshop are of great significance. The workshop could have been a rare opportunity for participants to exchange knowledge and offer one another critique, yet that did not happen because participants did not have their objectives clarified and thus were not properly prepared.

Photograph by Tan Ngoc.
Photograph by Tin Phung.

Anh Minh – Saigon in The Eyes of a Hanoian
Anh Minh is a young photographer from Hanoi currently residing in Saigon, who has been actively working on the community project “Humans of Saigon”.

The workshop has helped Minh to reflect on his past journey and from then find out a suitable direction in the future. He advised those who want to join the next workshop to have thorough preparation for the series and to answer the questions: What is the purpose of of the series? What does the series mean to you personally?

Photograph by Tin Phung.

Nguyen Ngoc Hai – Lagi
Hai, a freelance photographer, brings his project about his hometown Lagi where he was born and raised, a place that never fails to give him balance and reflections on his current identity – an immigrant in Saigon.

Being a young photographer with the motto “borrow money to study, damn the debt”, Hai has looked forward to joining the workshop as he wishes to learn more about documentary photography. To Hai, the process of editing and publishing a series is of great importance, as good ingredients without good processing and arrangement cannot attract anyone to have a taste.

Photograph by Tan Ngoc.
Photograph by Hai Thanh.

Tin Phung – Saigon! Saigon!
Tin is a commercial photographer who was born and raised in Saigon. He carries out his series about the street life of this city with contrasting fragments to “record all and keep it all for myself things that will never happen again”.

For Tin, the workshop is a brand new experience when he has gone through the closed process from starting a project, editing, publishing to printing and setting up an exhibition for the first time. After the workshop, he has understood that not only visible beauty but also “hidden corners” of life are worth paying attention to. He also comments about the teamwork spirit, as in order to achieve success, each individual needs to contribute and compromise more. The mentor should also allocate participants’ roles more efficiently in next workshops.

Photograph by Tan Ngoc.
Photograph by Tin Phung.

Tan Ngoc – The Train Named United
Photographer Tan Ngoc once again brings in his long-term series about the rides on Reunification Express train. Ngoc uses this workshop as a chance to re-edit his series for a future exhibition.

Photograph by Tin Phung.

Bao Zoan – The Bus Stop
Bao Zoan comes from Bien Hoa – Dong Nai, whose “life and work are both closely linked to photography”. He brings to the workshop a series of double exposures to convey the hustle-bustle and ranges of emotions at bus stops.

Learning from each participant’s strengths and weaknesses is what Bao find most valuable. The good thing about the workshop is the limited number of participants, and the not-so-good thing is that they have not put much effort into the required preparation.

Photograph by Tan Ngoc.
Photograph by Tin Phung.

Hoang Viet – Lost.
Hoang Viet has made quite a name for himself in the online news community for the past few years thanks to his “tearjerker” photographs. His project talks about personal loss, “the emptiness that even time could not fulfill”.

The workshop helps Viet to become more honest with his own photographs and define his topic more precisely. However, due to the differences in style and levels of participants, knowledge provided is scattered and not specific to each person’s needs.

Photograph by Tan Ngoc.
Photograph by Tin Phung.

Dinh Nguyen – A Little Bit of Blah Blah Blah
Another name not unfamiliar with Matca, “A little bit of blah blah blah” by Dinh Nguyen is his “disorganized, miscellaneous records of of days going on dates with the camera”.

To Dinh, the workshop has supported him in understanding that putting up one’s work in a group and personal exhibitions (if there is one) is in fact very different. He also gives remarks on time management, as this workshop happens in such a haste that the end-of-workshop exhibition is not up to his personal standards.

Photograph by Tin Phung.