“Every photo I take is stored in two places,” Hai Vu tells us, “on the memory card of my camera…and in my heart.” The travel and urban architecture photographer has been studying tourism administration at Bergamo University, Italy. During that time he’s traveled around, shooting around 40 European cities – there are grand Portuguese courtyards, Milanese metro staircases, meditative Polish churches, all interspersed on his Instagram with images from closer to home – Saigon’s Bitexco Financial Tower and Museum of Fine Art, Hanoi’s book stores and aged shopfronts.
Đọc bài viết bằng tiếng Việt
But, Hai Vu tells us, his first serious shots were taken in Paris. There he used a Canon 1200D to capture the “magnificent city”. Hooked, the following year he dug into endless YouTube tutorials and books about photography “to create images of moments that transcend language.”
His works have a melancholy air; there are lots of solo figures framed dramatically against cold urban architecture and umbrellas opened on rainy days. “People often say that my photos are quite sad,” he tells us, “maybe because each picture is filled with regret when I know that I will never be able to live this moment again.” They’re like mementos, he says, and each time he looks at them they take him back to that time: “I think because I not only try to capture scenes, but I also try to capture my feelings at that moment too…”
The backdrop of historic European capitals has provided great subject matter; all that magnificent light and architectural grandeur. He’s hit 20K followers on Instagram. And recently, Passion Passport, one of the largest travel photography communities in the world today noticed his work, and duly posted a photo he took with a drone in Gdansk, Poland on their website.
Back in Vietnam, he missed the beautiful natural European light. But that helped him discover another direction – focusing on human emotions and feelings. “I found joy in simplicity. The hospitable smile to a stranger, lush endless rice fields, traditional village life. Anything on this wondrous strip of S-shaped land we call Vietnam can become endlessly inspiring.”
These days his kit includes a camera, a wide-angle lens, a 50mm lens to “capture everything”, a telephoto lens, a drone and a belief in the magic of captured moments. The delight in shooting Vietnam led him to runner-up prize in the Vietnam Now 2019 competition, organized by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. He’s proud to introduce his home country to friends and followers he’s amassed on five continents.
And so, disregarding his successful travels around Europe for a moment, Hai Vu offered The Dot Magazine a travel ticket to three of the most beautiful regions of Vietnam through his work before returning to Italy to complete his masters degree.
#1 Runway in Color, Quang Phu Cau
This was one of the first works shot by Hai Vu with his newly acquired drone. It was taken in Quang Phu Cau. The relationships in the image are “startling, strange, creative and colorful”. And the view from above creates curiosity about the rich and diverse culture of Vietnam in viewers.
“This is the picture that finished second in the Vietnam Now competition of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism last year. And it reached the Top 50 World Color-Themed Photos in another global competition organized by Agora.”
#2 Kayak in Ha Long Bay
Ha Long, the “muse” of many famous photographers, is an unmissable scenic spot for visitors coming to Vietnam. “But it is the ‘graveyard’ of drones, because here they have a tendency to drop into the sea, never to be seen again,” he laughs. That didn’t deter him. He got this shot from a boat as it moored to allow guests to swim or paddle in the sea.
“The yellow kayak stands out against the clear blue sea, which is mixed with the mossy green that clings to the cliffs in the distance. It was a beautiful day, so I was very happy with the color and the composition too – the boat standing out in the middle of nature.”
#3 Lanterns in Hoi An
“No matter how much Vietnam develops, there are still places like Hoi An filled with wonder and poetry. The city of faded yellow walls, of dreamy lanterns…” Hai Vu smiles.
This particular photo was created by Hai Vu during a Da Nang-Hoi An trip two years ago. “Lanterns in Hoi An are a familiar image. In fact, many excellent images have already been shot here. But when I saw the moment when the foreign visitor contemplated the beauty of the old city as if lost in another world, and the surrounding lanterns formed a very charming scene, I couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to shoot.”
Photos of Hai Vu by Khooa Nguyen