A simple study of one area of Hanoi as seen from the train tracks before they cross the Red River going north. Looking down I show you four views of Hanoi life that I discovered in my short stay there.
There are still many of these older men riding their Cyclo’s looking for tourists to shuttle around the city. I guess they are still an effective means of making a little money, but I saw many more that were empty than full. Hanoi is really small enough to explore each neighborhood by foot. Perhaps it is convenient to take a short taxi ride to a different area and then by foot again. It is the photographer’s way, even in the heat.
One night, our group wanted to go to a local Bun Cha restaurant. It was just a few blocks from the hotel, really only a 15 minute walk. Our tour guide company wanted to pick us up in a taxi, escort us to the restaurant, and escort us back home. Perhaps it was just to make some extra money. We happily walked both ways (and the Bun Cha was delicious).
About this image
This image was taken near the Hanoi’s Old Quarter bordering Hoàn Kiếm Lake, which is where I saw most of these cyclos. I was taken to photograph this because of the large gesture of the blue, red, and white shrouding over the front of these buildings. My guess is that it is covering some construction in progress. There were two figures in the door way, having a conversation. I have a series of shots, with different things going on in the scene, but my commitment to tell a story and connect the dots with layers of juxtapositions, I chose this moment with the expressionless cyclo driver passing by the modern mannequins in the background.
Busy Hanoi Tribes of Vietnam Within The Frame Photographic Adventures September 2019
These small “restaurants” are typical in Hanoi, actually most of Viet Nam I would suspect. On my first day out, it was these colorful restaurant stalls, flowered shirts, and the constant movement of motorbikes, that caught my attention.
There is no mincing words, Hanoi is one noisy-hectic city. Crowded with people and motorbikes. More accurately, people on motorbikes, incessantly honking their horns. Not, as my guide informed me, in anger, but as a warning: “Here I am, I’m going this way, you should watch out for me.” It is their version of a turn signal, if there were any traffic rules about turn signals. The traffic in Vietnam, as experienced in both the big city of Hanoi and on the local roads in the isolated hills in the north, seems to be ruled only by the drivers confidence that they can successfully steer their way through the maze of other motorbikes, trucks, busses, and pedestrians without neither being hit nor do the hitting. The rule for pedestrians is to look the drivers in the eye and walk at a constant pace. They will judge your motions and steer away from hitting you. Both parties must be confident and must adhere to these rules or there may be dire consequences. The loudest drivers are the middle-aged women in their fashionable shoes on their vespa-like scooters. Their constant “beep, beep, beep, beep” say: “Out of my way, I am the matriarch here!”.
I don’t usually share images that haven’t had a final edit, but I have a little downtime and thought you might be interested in the sights of Vietnam. These images were taken in RAW+JPG on my Oly and roughly edited on my iPad with Snapseed.
Welcome to Vietnam. On this trip, my travel mates and I are exploring the minority tribes in the northern areas of Vietnam up near the border with China. There are many different minority peoples and it is easy to get confused with names like Red Dao, Black Dao, Flower Mong, Tay. Each of these people have their own dress and live in different, but overlapping, regions.
This is the Pan Ho valley, and yesterday, we trekked from the bottom of this valley to the top. Our timing for visiting this region has been perfection aligned with the beginning of rice harvest in this area. The scenery is just spectacular.
On this trek, we visited a woman from the Black Dao minority group. The Black Dao chew the bettle-nut leaf which turns their teeth black. This woman invited us in for tea and showed off her very young grand-daughter, only a couple of months old. Because of the rice harvest, Mom was already back in the field. Each family must harvest enough rice for the year, as there is only one crop per year in this area.
On our drive up to this area, we stopped for tea in a small town. Our guide, Thau (pronounced Tao), can make friends with anyone, but the fact that we were carrying some local rice-wine didn’t hurt. This wonderfully vibrant and sassy woman invited us to her home, just a short ways up the road, for some fried fish and to share a drink. She is from the Red Dao group.
There are some images that make an impression as soon as you hit the shutter, others you may not even remember.
Some images you know the moment you hit the shutter…
After three days in Chefchauen, the beautiful blue city of Morocco, our next destination Fes, we stopped at the green city of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun for lunch an a cultural tour. Moulay Idriss, like Chefcauen and Fes, has an old medina, of winding passages built on a hill. One the road leading to the medina is here where supplies are brought into town and the market stalls and tea stands are setup. As we were walking to our van, a little short on time, I saw this scene and I think I turned to someone and said – “I need to get this scene”. The color, geometry, and story all spoke to me instantly. Sporting a 50mm lens, I quickly checked some settings, veered left toward the group of men, lifted my camera to my eye and took two quick shots while still in stride, and went back to the group.
Some images, you don’t even remember taking…
On our last afternoon in Chefchauen, a group of us walked through the medina looking for light. On one of the main passages through the medina, this potential scene presented itself. After just a few minutes of shooting, I realized that, even though we had this great streak of light on the wall, very little of the light was falling where people were actually walking. But I was game to watch and wait. I took several shots, trying for the right moment, the right light, but ultimately walked away thinking that nothing special was captured. It happens that way with street photography. But, to my surprise, a few weeks later, upon detailed edit, looking through every image, I found this frame showing a universal story of father and daughter; a perfect moment set against the backdrop of the blue city, berber designs, and dramatic light.
On the fourth day (Thursday) of my workshop with Jay Maisel in 2012, after a morning spent the morning catching up on image critiques, we were taken for lunch to little whole in the wall place that served only two kinds of Chinese dim-sum – sesame bread pork sandwiches and something else. As usual, Jay told us what was best (his favorite) and gave us that look that said: “Hey, I just told you what was the best thing here, but you can make up your own mind.” After lunch we had maybe one-and-a-half hours before we were due back at “The Bank” (Jay’s home, and where we met for the workshop). Jay gave us this advice: “You are going to use this time to prove to yourself that you don’t need a lot of time to make meaningful images.”
Beginning last summer, I have made it a point to take short walks on at the near-by beaches (about 30 minutes away) to spend time with my husband and to see what kind of “meaningful images” I could make in that short time. Last weekend I came upon this scene showing the beach life reflected in the front glass of the new lifeguard stations at Leo Carrillo State Beach. The beach infrastructure was severely impacted by by the Woolsey Fire last summer and all of the historic wooden lifeguard stations have been replaced by these fiberglass pod-like structures. A couple of my all-time favorite images will never be able to be reproduced due to these changes. Another thing Jay taught us at the workshop: “Never assume you can go back.”
More about Jay and the Jay Myself movie
Jay Maisel is one of America’s master photographers and I was lucky enough to take a workshop with him at his infamous “Bank Building” in the Bowery NYC in May 2012. Jay is amazing: his photographic achievements, his approach to life, his creativity, his authenticity. In 2015, Jay sold the bank building and as he moved out, Stephen Wilkes made a documentary film, called Jay Myself, about Jay, his building, and the moving process . You can find some background and the bank building here, and more information about the movie Jay Myself show times at the Laemmle theatre page. Jay Myself will be showing at Laemmle Royal in Santa Monica CA form August 16 – 22nd