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Vietnamese rural life captured in cinematographer’s photo book

Sunday, June 14, 2020, 14:29 GMT+7
Vietnamese rural life captured in cinematographer’s photo book
A woman watches as a ferry boat approaches the river bank in rural Vietnam. Photo: Nguyen Huu Tuan

An artist who has spent decades capturing life in rural Vietnam on Sunday unveiled his latest photo book offering snapshots of his favorite subject — the rural boats that ferry passengers across rivers.

Sang Song (Across the River) is the name of the unpublished photo book by Nguyen Huu Tuan, a Hanoi-born cinematographer who has been awarded the title of People’s Artist, the country’s top artistic honor for a living artist.

Having spent more than 40 years traveling to the rural parts of Vietnam to photograph local life, Tuan humbly admitted it was only his personal passion and considered himself merely as a 'passer-by' of the villages in his photos.

During such photo trips across the various Vietnamese rural villages, the places that always caught his attention were the ferry boat piers.

Stopping for drinks at beverage stands that are often a fixture next to each pier presented Tuan with the opportunity to contemplate the river scenes and listen to many life stories of the locals.

Behind each of the photos taken on his trips is a story ready to be told.

Artist Nguyen Huu Tuan’s handwritten notes are seen in a page from his unpublished photo book ‘Sang song’ in a supplied photo.

Artist Nguyen Huu Tuan’s handwritten notes are seen on a page from his unpublished photo book Sang Song in this supplied photo.

"Over the many years when I went to the countryside to take photos, I was always asked what my purpose was in photographing my subjects. I often felt too embarrassed to answer as I couldn't say that ‘I only want to capture what I see,’” Tuan recalled.

“But in fact, it’s the rice paddies, the people, the sound of water, and the smell of hay that all made me feel overwhelmingly emotional and compelled me to capture the moments.

“I took the photos not because of anything else or to satisfy anyone’s expectation.”

In 1995, Tuan’s photo exhibition ‘Nguoi Di Qua Lang’ (The Village Passer-By) in Hanoi was a hit that brought him into the spotlight of the local photography scene.

He has been invited to stage similar exhibitions in France and Denmark.

People and vehicles get off a ferry boat in rural Vietnam. Photo: Nguyen Huu Tuan

People and vehicles get off a ferry boat in rural Vietnam. Photo: Nguyen Huu Tuan

A book launch event for Sang Song was held on Sunday morning at the O Kia Ha Noi art space at 360 De La Thanh Street in the Vietnamese capital.

Some never-before-seen photos from the book will be on display as part of a week-long exhibition at the venue.

Nguyen Huu Tuan is known for his role as the cinematographer for many classic Vietnamese films.

He also served as a location scout for acclaimed French films Indochine and L'Amant, both released in 1992.

He was the second-unit cinematographer for the 2002 American movie The Quiet American, which was shot in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Ninh Binh, and Hoi An.

A group of women wait for a boat to ferry them across a river in a rural Vietnamese village in this supplied photo. Photo: Nguyen Huu Tuan

A group of women wait for a boat to ferry them across a river in a rural Vietnamese village in this supplied photo. Photo: Nguyen Huu Tuan

A group of women in rural Vietnam. Photo: Nguyen Huu Tuan

A group of women in rural Vietnam. Photo: Nguyen Huu Tuan

Two men sit inside a small store in the vicinity of a ferry boat pier in rural Vietnam as a girl looks on from the doorway in this supplied photo. Photo: Nguyen Huu Tuan

Two men sit inside a small store in the vicinity of a ferry boat pier in rural Vietnam as a woman looks on from the doorway in this supplied photo. Photo: Nguyen Huu Tuan

A woman rides a bicycle past a ferry boat in rural Vietnam in this supplied photo. Photo: Nguyen Huu Tuan

A woman rides a bicycle past a ferry boat in rural Vietnam in this supplied photo. Photo: Nguyen Huu Tuan

Artist Nguyen Huu Tuan’s handwritten notes are seen in a page from his unpublished photo book ‘Sang song’ in a supplied photo.

Artist Nguyen Huu Tuan’s handwritten notes are seen on a page from his unpublished photo book Sang Song in a supplied photo.

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Kim Thoa - Ngoc Diep / Tuoi Tre News

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