Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — August 19,2015 — 12 Year old Ngoc Sang, a student at the Christina Noble Children’s foundation, winds up for a return volley to his coach. (Ehrin Macksey / The National)
Just found out that myself, the writer and The National Newspaper won a Sports Media Pearl Award(http://is.gd/Yg9KyI) for a story we did about NGO Christina Noble Foundation in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam http://is.gd/1GYowc Not only did we win an award but we also won a $50,000 donation for the Christina Noble Foundation.
Ah little square boxes how I love thy. These days it seems that everyone does too and I’m not setting any trends by doing it as well, but one day it got me thinking.
In the middle of this year I started to take daily images about my life and environment in Vietnam. This should not be a shock for most people but, after being based here for over 6 years, I have been finding myself slightly numb to some of the amazing daily things I see here. So I decided something needed to change and I needed a little daily project to spark some new life into the relationship I have with this country. Basically it is me and not you Vietnam.
It is simple really, when driving around Hanoi or other places in the country and I see something interesting instead of my thinking, “oh that is a good photo wish I had my camera with me” or “I wish I had wasn’t in a rush to be at ……” I stop and whip out the trusty phone. I know I should have my camera with me at all times but surprisingly I don’t carry all 5kg of camera with me when I go to the supermarket, a meeting or for a bicycle ride. The camera I do have available everywhere I go is my iPhone and thus it is what I use most times. There have been times I really wished for a better quality images but for me this is just part of a habit for me to slow down, see more and to take images freely of what I see. Since I have started this project it has revitalized my curiosity for this country once again. Experimenting and keeping things fresh is what is all about with all relationships and photography is no different.
Of course all of these images are posted on Instagram(Ehrin_Macksey) in case you want to follow me.
Before my trip to Kunming I had read about how there was a theme park called the Midget Kingdom (the official name of the theme park is not so PC). I knew before going out there that this place had been covered before, but being a curious person I still wanted to go see it for myself. On my second day in Kunming I arranged to take a quick tour that goes out there once a day with Chinese tourists and had about 2 hours to spend there before I had to head back to Kunming with the tour. Needless to say the whole place was fascinating to me in a dilapidated, half-fast put together, cheesy Chinese theme park kind of way. When I arrived, I immediately went to hang out with the gang as they prepped for their performance. Everyone was friendly, smiled and was pretty easy going for having a stranger hangout with them all of a sudden taking photos.
Even though this place has been covered before, the people and who they are outside of their work environment is quite interesting. I really liked finding out about where they all came from, their hobbies, how their life was before coming to this “kingdom” as well as how they currently live in their little community (no pun intended). These aspects about peoples lives are always so much more interesting and important to me and also makes me more curious about who these people are, which is why I create stories. When dealing with visually abnormal subject matter it is important (at least to me) to humanize the people we are documenting and create a level of understanding and empathy with the audience through my images or films. Knowing more about the person/peoples normal lives and seeing that there is a way to create a bridge to the audience helps me not to relying on the shallow, visually shocking aspects of a person or subject matter when creating a story. Maybe this is subject for another blog post, so to sum things up I am happy that I took the trip to meet these people and I hope I end up back here one day to work on a story(If you want to help support this feel free to email me).
For now, I will just share some images I took in my quick visit to this place.
Ah China so close yet so far. At least this is how it has felt since I have been living in Vietnam for last 6 years. People are always telling me about it and I have always wanted to go, even to see a little bit of it. Well that opportunity finally came early last month when I got a 4 day corporate assignment in Kunming, China and I decided to go 2 days ahead of my assignment to wander around and just be curious of this foreign land. I couldn’t tell you anything that you haven’t already heard, but I did like it very much and it was great to get lost again like I used to when I first moved to Southeast Asia.
My plan of attack for my 2 days of exploration was simple. Armed with an iPhone with google maps and translate(probably gave horrible translations) I got on a public bus and jump off when I saw something interesting. Needless to say I jumped off the bus (sometimes while it was still moving) a good amount of times. I saw some temples, large scale construction, parks, city life and a nuclear power plant. Pretty much everything a tourist would not want to see and I was completely happy. Now I am even more curious about China and can’t wait to go back.
Below is a series of things and people I saw in my two days of bus jumping in the city of Kunming. As always thanks for checking them out.