Just Folks of Hanoi

35mm Film Photography Series (October 2020)


I was born and raised in Hanoi, Vietnam. Having taken the earthly beauty of my homeland for granted, I never expected that one day I would be tormented by a deep longing for the rustic simplicity of Hanoi, having moved to Melbourne in pursuit of further education.


Inspired by a photo book featuring sincere everyday life and people in Hanoi from 1967 to 1975 captured by German photographer Thomas Billhardt, I took this series of images mostly as a way to compensate for my longing for the ordinary in this city but also to explore the beauty of just plain folks of Hanoi. Each individual has their own way of working for a living, however, they all subtly represent the signatures of the capital of Vietnam. My work is a mix of environmental portrait photography and street portrait photography. While Mr. Billhardt made the most of the lights and darkness in every picture to carefully constructed compositions that carved out a detail-rich reality of a war-time in Hanoi, I chose to center the subject and the details of their work in their natural surroundings for simplicity, added a calm feeling to the image communicating the honest peacetime life. There would be a short caption given when hovering over each photo, and the display of the series would be as minimal as possible for a simple look. These photographs were taken on a 35mm film camera manufactured in the 1970s with an aim of creating a sense of old-fashioned values which are still existing in this modern world.