Starting from a vow ten years ago, Ho Chi Minh City-based photographer Huynh Chau Truong Giang has been committed to fulfilling the dreams of many underprivileged couples by providing an all-out wedding photoshoot package free of charge.
The newly-wed couple Nguyen Thi Yen and Le Trong Viet, both in their fifties, cherish the ecstatic moments of their marriage.
They just had a wedding ceremony going beyond their wildest dreams.
Part of the miracle came to life because of Huynh Chau Truong Giang’s offer to glam up the couple for a glitzy photoshoot.
The dream wedding photo albums
Both Viet and Yen are working-class people taking informal jobs to get by in Ho Chi Minh City. Yen is a seamstress who fixes and alters clothes and Viet sells lottery tickets.
Yen is a person with a disability who once took refuge at the ‘Mai Am Mua Xuan’ center in Tan Binh District, a shelter for disabled and struggling people in the city.
The journey to their wedding was an uphill fight due to disapproval from Yen’s family. The couple had to pull all the stops to finance the ceremony.
The norm is to have the newly-weds’ wedding photos exhibited at the entrance of the ceremonial venue.
Yen only wished to pose for one picture as she and her husband-to-be are not well off. She contacted Giang’s studio on Go Dau Street in Tan Phu District after a reference from an acquaintance.
After a meeting, Giang went forward to offer Yen and Viet a free photoshoot package including costumes and makeup.
“He pointed me to the wedding dress rack at his studio and told me to pick one,” Yen recalled.
Having a wedding photo album was the dream of Yen’s life.
“I was past my maiden day and not well off, so one photo was already great, let alone a whole album,” Yen said.
The couple welcomed the work of their photographer with glowing praise.
“Giang captured great moments of ours. Many people shed tears when they saw these pictures since Giang put a great deal of work into the landscape setting and shooting,” Yen said.
He even attended the wedding ceremony to record and take photos, put up a montage video, and printed the photo album as gifts for the couple.
Another young couple, Kieu Minh Trung and Ngo Thi Lan Thanh, share a similar experience with Yen and Viet.
They are both athletes with disabilities who faced objections from their families when they announced their plan to get married.
They started with only VND3 million (US$130) to organize the ceremony.
They received support from various sources, everything from the venue to catering.
“Photography was the only thing left. We really wanted it but still hesitated due to budget constraints,” Trung said.
They reached out to Giang only seven days ahead of the ceremony.
“Trung said he would cover it all and told me not to worry. On the day of the photoshoot, he went out with the best of his ability to help us as if we were part of his family, performing stunts and all to help us relax and pose,” Trung recalled.
Free service is still service
Giang also acts as a benefactor for many betrothed couples in a similar situation in Ho Chi Minh City,
When asked about his motivation to perform these acts of charity, he recalled a special encounter in 2007 that opened up his mind.
That morning, he quoted the price for a wedding photo album at VND3.5 million ($150) to a woman visiting his studio.
Only after the down payment was made did he realize that the woman and her soon-to-be husband are both blind.
“They are quite young and hail from remote provinces. They play the piano at restaurants for a living. I already made the contract, so I offered a 50 percent discount to them. For the ceremony, I lent them a wedding dress and suit with no charge,” Giang recalled.
After the encounter, the photographer made a vow to himself that he would provide his service to struggling couples with no monetary requirement — including but not limited to makeup, photoshoot, photo editing, bookbinding, and ceremony photography.
Upon the purchase of his first car, he started to lend the 'flower car' — a wedding vehicle decorated with flower bouquets — to his customers in the same philanthropic manner.
He is more than eager to serve people in need, even seeking couples with budget constraints so he can provide help on his personal Facebook account.
Coming to his studio, the bride is invited to pick three wedding costumes and, along with their groom, is asked to speak about their vision for the album.
He usually recommends morning photoshoot sessions to utilize good lighting conditions. Yet in some cases, the clients have to work late at night and cannot make it into the morning schedule.
“Waking them up just for a photoshoot is not worth it. In those circumstances, I will just slate it for the afternoon,” he explained.
Despite working free sessions, Giang still strives to bring his best for the customers.
“Even if I do it for free, I will make it worthy with all my heart.”