Life Life

07/06/2017 - 10:22


"We are carrying out a big project in Hue" ...

Catherine Karnow is an American photographer working for National Geographic. Her father is journalist Stanley Karnow, an author of the 13-episode documentary series "Vietnam: A Television History". Her father's love for Vietnam has inspired Catherine and she has been with Vietnam for 27 years. On the trip to Hue, she has an interesting conversation with Thua Thien Hue Newspaper. She shares:

Portrait of Catherine Karnow

I have been to Hue many times for organizing photography courses here. In my eyes, Hue has a golden past, with ancient works. I visit many places, temples, royal citadel ... to watch the corner, looking for the soul of Hue. For me, they are really beautiful.

Your father and you are the ones who make the outside look more authentic in Vietnam. What in Vietnam attract you?

My father wrote coverage of Vietnam in the war against America and had come here many times. For me, up to now, I has been attached to this S-shape land for 27 years. It can be said, here, I feel as if I were at home. I keep coming back here many times because Vietnam give me feeling. I felt Vietnamese’s arms wrap around me.

I also feel like the Vietnamese know me, understand me, accept me. Talking about people here, I see respect and always have emotions. I feel myself and Vietnam are in harmony with each other, and accept each other. Here I am myself, not an American but simply myself.

Another reason that I come back from time to time is because of the photos. Being a photographer, the way Vietnamese people respect you, accept you is very interesting. I want to take pictures that bring people joy, something good.

Sharing fun with characters is what Catherine Karnow did when working

Wherever you go, it is expected to have a beautiful album of that certain land. How about this time? It is said that you have a project dedicated to Hue ...?

With this trip, I and Mr. Nguyen Trung Truc (husband of Trinh Vinh Trinh - the sister of composer Trinh Cong Son) have started a big project. I am very happy to work on this project, as it allows me to capture the "soul of Vietnam," which I have always wanted to show in my works for many years but not yet.

This project will last long to capture the spirit of Hue, the soul of Hue. It's the Hue people, the beauty here ... We will also take natural scenes, like the Perfume River ... but in a different way, unlike the usual images on the postcards.


You have so many photos and have held exhibitions in Vietnam, what message do you want to send to viewers around the world?

When shooting, I just want to save that moment. I have organized many courses and seminars here and brought to people who probably never came to Vietnam, not all but the majority of them are Americans, mostly middle-aged people, from 50-60 years old. We sit together, listen, and feel who we are, what we feel ... and to connect with each other. It is like the spirit of Trinh Cong Son's song "Joining hands".

Through photos, I want the viewer to know, "How can Vietnamese be so kind? They are so beautiful, how wonderful". It was my experience after a long time and was what I wanted to convey in my photos.


Referring to the name Catherine Karnow, people often refer to Vietnam and the photos of the late General Vo Nguyen Giap. What do you think about this and in the future, do you have any plans in Vietnam?

With the late General Vo Nguyen Giap, we have had a very lasting relationship. For a long time, I did not know why he chose me, invited me to accompany with him during his visit to Dien Bien Phu. It is indeed my honor, the honor of lasting time. I just tried my best to take beautiful photos when I was with him. I just know I have to do my best to catch the best possible moment, and then give it to the General's family.

About my intentions in Vietnam, I see that everything is gradually expanding, gradually growing up. That means that I will have more relationships, more ideas, more new projects, more places to go.

Thank you and wish you a successful project!

Look at some pictures of people, Hue landscape ... through Catherine’s lens:


Authors: L.Tue - T.Quyen