ClockThursday, 11/08/2022 07:20

Meeting battlefield photographer Lam Duc Hien

TTH.VN - Showing the connection between lands, cultures and people is what battlefield photographer Lam Duc Hien aims for behind each set of photos.

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The Photographer Lam Duc Hien (right cover) having conversation with young people in Hue

True perspective on life

Coming to Hue during Hue Festival Week 2022, the French-Vietnamese photographer Lam Duc Hien introduces to the public the photo exhibition "Mekong - A Tale of Two Banks" at the French Institute in Hue. Works with artistic perspectives and variations in expression allow viewers to admire the richness and diversity of the Mekong landscape, from the vibrant array of the deltas to that of the arid desert.

Through realistic photographs, the exhibition takes viewers on a tour of the colorful lives of people stretching 4,200 kilometers along the Mekong River, from the bustling, life-filled tropical downstream of the Mekong Delta to the upper reaches of Tibet, where the white snow covers it all year round.

The series of photos "Mekong - Tales of Two Banks" is the result of 15 years of creation of Lam Duc Hien. In the series of pictorial narratives, individual memories blend with the collective memories of people who live by and rely on the river. The Mekong River is both a boundary and a link between lands, cultures and people. This "Mother River" can be compared to a stream that keeps the rituals, stories and hardships of the peoples living along the river.

Lam Duc Hien's photographs thus not only depict the river's diversity, but also reveal a dialogue between the landscape and the people, the human destinies that make life on this river; the way they are living, running economic, agriculture, and fishing activities, etc.

Lam Duc Hien's work is of interest to the public

The Photographer Lam Duc Hien shared: “For me, the Mekong River is a symbol for people to feel the peaceful atmosphere. With photos without captions, I want viewers to recognize the subtle differences in the characters' faces, in portraits that do not specify any ethnicity or land."

In addition to the exhibition, Lam Duc Hien also had a talk with young people in Hue; training to share skills in making photo stories, focusing on people with diverse approaches to documentary portraits, as well as directly guiding participants throughout the process of making and editing the series.

He expressed: “Coming to Hue for the first time 30 years ago, this time coming back, I am very happy to interact with the curious young people of the city. This is also the land that gives me many impressions of the poetic, ancient scenery and friendly people.”

Message of freedom and peace

Born in 1966 on the banks of the Mekong River (the section that flows through Pakse town, southern Laos), Lam Duc Hien has a Vietnamese father and Lao mother. He came to France in 1977, known as a veteran battlefield photographer, with 25 years of experience in many fierce war zones, such as Rwanda, South Sudan, Iraq, etc.

Lam Duc Hien said that, when he was young, he had no intention of becoming a photographer. He studied many languages with the desire to become a linguist. After that, he pursued art and studied painting, photography, sculpture, etc.

When he was a student, a turning point occurred when he traveled from France to Romania, and witnessed children being victims of conflicts, he documented the disaster with photography. That was the first turning point that made Lam Duc Hien become a documentary photographer.

In 1991, Lam Duc Hien went to Iraq and started taking pictures of the battlefield. He shoots portraits, aiming for facial features without illustrative context. For many years with Iraq, he won the first prize in the World Press Photo Contest, the portrait category for the photo series "Iraqis" in 2001.

Photographs by the photographer Lam Duc Hien give viewers a different perspective on the war. Not the dark side of war, but the pictures that carry a positive message, even in war there is still beauty and hope.

Humanitarian perspectives, children's rights and environmental issues are topics he often focuses on. Through photos, Lam Duc Hien speaks out about freedom and peace. In order to capture a soulful photo, he also spends a lot of time observing, listening and finding empathy.

Working on the battlefield, Lam Duc Hien has many memorable experiences, including times facing death in the midst of bombs. He appreciated the generosity of the Iraqi people.

“The Iraqis are very generous if they really like you. They especially like the Vietnamese people. In 1991, I was one of the few foreign photographers allowed to take pictures in Iraq. When I said I was Vietnamese, the people there were chanting: "Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh" and gave a warm welcome," the photographer recalls.

Wandering everywhere, but Lam Duc Hien affirms that Vietnam is his heart. Every year, he returns to Vietnam to visit his hometown, brothers and relatives to remember his childhood raised by his grandmother, and enjoys the popular dishes of salted eggplant, braised meat with Vietnamese flavor.

Story and photos: Minh Hien

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