Naked ambition in Vietnam

Nude models in Vietnam risk things like having their weddings canceled in order to pursue their art 

A nude model poses in a work provided by photographer Dung Art.

Nude models in Vietnam are continuing to defy social stigma surrounding their profession.

Lai Thanh Huong is a 25-year-old professional nude model, but she will only pose nude for photographer Hao Nhien.

“I’m at a loss as to why so many people still consider a woman’s artistically presented curves to be obscene and comparable to pornography,” she said while pointing to shots of herself in a photo book entitled ‘Tao Tac’ (Creation).

Huong revealed that she felt embarrassed the first time she posed for a nude photo shoot about six or seven years ago, and at one time did stop because of criticism from others, only to resume some time later.

“Working with Nhien is quite a challenge as he demands difficult postures,” Huong said. “They make me ache all over for the next few days.”

“The photos, however, give me satisfaction because of their artistic value. I want to capture my youthful, voluptuous curves,” she noted.

The model stressed that she does not expose all of her intimate parts to the lens. 

Thai Phien, a noted nude photographer who was first to gain national recognition for one of his nude collections, revealed a story about one of his models.

Model Lai Thanh Huong. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Model Lai Thanh Huong. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The young woman, who was a friend of his, had already distributed her wedding invitations when her fiancé happened to come across her nude photos.

No longer receptive to a wife who had posed nude, the fiancé canceled the wedding immediately and retrieved the invites.

Photographer Do Anh Tuan in Hanoi also divulged his own unforgettable story of an amateur nude model.    

A teacher whom he became friends with in the northwestern province of Son La had found him a few girls of Thai ethnic minority backgrounds to pose nude.

The pictures of the girls turned out very well, as they blended seamlessly into the woods and waterfalls.

Returning to the location for another shoot with colleagues, the teacher told him that all the girls in the hamlet were busy that day, except for one less attractive woman who had had a baby.

Unwilling to go home without pictures, the group decided to ask the woman to pose naked in a waterfall in Moc Chau District.

The young woman possessed a curvaceous figure and blended well into the scenic backdrop. 

After the shoot had finished, the teacher admitted to Tuan that the other Thai girls had not been busy that day, but had wanted the young mother, whose husband had been arrested for drug trafficking, to have an opportunity to earn some money to support her infant.

Tuan and his colleagues then offered the needy woman even more money.

A pregnant model poses half-naked in a photo provided by photographer Duong Quoc Dinh.
A pregnant model poses half-naked in a photo provided by photographer Duong Quoc Dinh.

Meanwhile, photographer Duong Quoc Dinh has used a model named S. throughout his 10-year nude photography career.  

When S. turned 20, she was taken by her mother to Dinh’s studio to have her nude postures captured.

Though obedient, the girl initially resented her mother for forcing her to take nude photos.

Her attitude soon changed, however, from repulsion to sheer delight when Dinh showed her the photos.

Following her first nude collection, S. decided to work as Dinh’s regular naked muse.

Though her boyfriend frowned on her job once he found out a few months later, S. was unwavering in her decision.

Three years later, S.’s boyfriend became Dinh’s photography assistant whenever he took nudes of his own fiancée.

He even brought S. to Dinh’s studio for a shoot before their wedding and during her pregnancy.

It was the last time the young woman posed naked, but the first time that she had smiled so contentedly at being blessed with a baby.  

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