Life Life

03/06/2020 - 00:49

More than an elegant hobby

In high school, I hooked up with a professional photographer. We got along so well that he did not mind me exploring his camera, even though it cost a fortune at that time. Photography then gripped me so much that I eventually managed to persuade mom to spend one tenth of a tael of gold to buy me a used Canon camera.

The peaceful Huong River. Photo: N.H

Back then, not everyone knew what to do well with an analog camera using plastic film to capture black and white images. A careless shot can result in overexposed, underexposed, or out of focus prints. On top of that, pricey film and photo paper discouraged enthusiasts to take up this luxurious hobby.

Yet if gifted and determined to learn, one could do photography for a living or as a part time and make high earnings.

As life progresses, photographic technology has also drastically evolved. Digital camera stepped in and improved over time, along with the advent of mobile phones with built-in cameras and later smartphones with even more advanced photography features. Taking a picture has never been so easy for everyone anytime, anywhere with these high-tech, portable gadgets.

Without much demand, most photographers had to quit their jobs or invest in a studio to earn a living. Photography career became difficult, but photographic advancements have boosted the number of photo-takers.

Interestingly, from simply capturing memories, many people unknowingly become so into photography. Enthusiasts are willing to spend a fortune to invest in a full kit, from camera body, lens,… to many other accessories to approach the field of professional photography.

Flowers on the walking path on the northern bank of the Huong River. Photo: N.H

And with a camera in hand, they barely missed anything they found worth recording, from faces of familiar friends, literary characters and academic figures,… to a road, a street corner, or flowers of the past seasons; beautiful scenes or events of the country and homeland ...

Particularly in Hue, I had to take my hat off to authors of beautiful frames, such as Nguyen Van Thanh, Le Quy Trong, Van Dinh Huy, Nguyen Khoa Huy, Nguyen Huu Thong, Le Minh Dieu, ... They are, surprisingly, researchers, teachers, bank officers, police officers, but has successfully composed impressive photographs that are both realistic and artistic.

To them, photography feels like an elegant past time. But I think it's not simply so. That elegant hobby bears in itself precious values of culture, history, and information. As time goes by, their photos will become priceless documentary frames to deliver messages and past moments to the future generations.

A Hue local teacher perhaps known to many people, Than Trong Ninh, was present in Hanoi in 1954 to take photos of the victorious army as they took over the capital. About 70 black and white photographs of his later became valuable and rare documents about this great event of the nation.

Luckily, in Hue, we now have more than just one Than Trong Ninh. In a few decades or centuries, similar snapshots will tell a vivid story of the present living city to the successive generations, for them to clearly visualize the shape and size of their beloved city to preserve and develop it further.