British photographer Neil Massey takes the helm for #matcaspotlight this month. Neil has lived and worked in Vietnam for 6 years, where his two kids Lola and Alfie were born.
Firstly, thank you Matca for giving me the opportunity to curate my favourite images from the #matcaspotlight section. After going through just under 2,500 photographs, it has been pretty tough getting it down to six images. There were so many more worth credit, including but not limited to those featured in this article. The standard is exceptional. Not dissimilar to most of the work, these following image makers find their photographic inspiration on the street or out in the natural environment. I lived in Vietnam for six years, during this time I was searching for some kind of new visual language to document the Vietnam i felt, smelt and experienced on a daily basis. I selected these images as they ask more questions about modern Vietnam, rather than reaffirming old ideas. I was looking for some kind of visual poetry.
1. Photo by d.minhthong.
I’m immediately transported into this intimate moment in this photograph of a group of school friends. No one seems to be aware of the camera or the photograph being taken. Is it a water fight? The boy in the middle is soaking wet trying to hand his phone to another boy for safe keeping, another stands guard watching for further water attacks? It’s a great example of an image that allows the viewer to figure out what is happening.
2. Photo by llinnajan. The strange composition and perspective of this image grabbed my attention. Also, there is the juxtaposition of light and dark, safety and danger. The blended pale creamy colours of the wood, stone and the subject’s skin tone. Her look of defiance, challenging the viewer, while her head pokes through the banisters leaning precariously over the dark unknown edge.
3. Photo by skinnysiddhartha.
I love a crowded frame and this shot by Phong is a lovely example of a balanced composition. A group of resting women, on some kind of tour, busy in their own worlds and thought processes – sit through the middle of the frame. Framed by the rickshaw driver man in the right hand side of the frame and dark square in the top left hand corner.
4. Photo by quanngo01.
There’s a beautiful quiet tranquility to this image. I like the competing layers, textures, light and shade in this photograph. Then the more you look at the image, the smooth layer of silhouettes of the patient fishermen are split open and interrupted by the fishing line cutting through the water.
5. Photo by trongtin131.
I love the tension in this photograph. The lady in the conical hat looks over, the stylish man emerges from the shadows – the photographer has been spotted, but this only adds to the drama. What happened next? I asked myself. The snow-like sparkles of dust probably from burnt ghost money add texture and the crunching colours of red and black only compound this tension.
6. Photo by quibeo.
There’s an incredible balance to this composition. The girl’s silhouette in the middle is framed by a number of blurred bodies above her on either side in the background. She turns her back on the audience and nobody’s face is revealed. I really like sombre dark metallic hues, which gives the image a beautiful meditative, contemplative feel.
Neil Massey is a British photographer who has worked in HCMC from 2009 to 2015 and now based in London. His four books The Vietnam Collection are finished and published recently. Neil with his wife Julia Massey, a producer, are working together on theVietnam KIN Project that aims to collect photos from the 1950s to the 1970s and give them back to their rightful owner.