Thursday, August 13, 2009

NaPix -- Hmong Life


Generations -- Hmong Great Grandmother
Generations -- Hmong Great Grandmother by NaPix -- Hmong Life
At over 90, Giang Thi Khu was content spending her last days surrounded be her children, grandkids and great grandchildren. So, my Hmong daughter, and I went to visit her in Then Tho village, 70 km away from Sapa.

The Black Hmong are the 3rd largest minority in Vietnam with nearly 900,000 people. In the Sapa region there are about 35,000 Black Hmong residing in the surrounding 17 villages and they account for about 50% of the area population. Most reside at an altitude of 1,600 – 1,700 meters above sea level in this stunningly beautiful region they call “the city above the clouds”. The Hmong started migrating to Vietnam from China in the last 300 years.
In this region about half the Hmong are Catholic and half animistic. They live of the land growing rice and corn and they all believe in the spirits

Hmong Mom
Hmong Mom by NaPix -- Hmong Life
A young mother, (16) with her newly born in Hao Thao village, 6 km from Sapa.
And pls. don’t make your ‘value’ judgment about the age. Unlike Westerners at 16, Hmong are not kids at this age. They have been raising their younger siblings since 6 or 7, they know how to grow all the food they need, build shelter, make there own clothing, cook and tend to the household animals. Even more, they were always involved in all aspects of life and death and have extensive knowledge about natural medicine. They are always surrounded by family and friends and raising children is done by the whole family and community. So try to remember this and don’t enforce your values on others.

1: How long have you been involved in photography?
It’s been a life long love affair. Had a brownie box camera at age 10 and at 13 got a second hand Leica G range finder camera that stayed with me for many years.

2: Equipment you use?
From that brownie box camera, through the years, I’ve had them all. All the Nikon rage cameras and lenses, a’la the ‘Blow up’ movie and the many Polaroids. My fave was the SX-70, what a piece of art. And a couple of Hasselblad I still have. So I’m not one to talk about equipments. Today I use digital and always have a point’n’shoot, Canons, that I have on me. I call them PHD cameras – Push Here Dummy :)

As been said before, the most important piece of equipment you need is just several inches behind the viewfinder.

3: Mac or PC?

4: What inspires you?
From my profile -- "My portrait and people photos are journalistic in style and strive to communicate reality. Recording the fabric of life, I try to portray human dignity and the world we live in with honesty, respect, simplicity and compassion. Making that emotional connection that results, for a brief time, in people sharing there inner soul, is what I strive for. It is an emotional process that works both ways. "

With my images I attempt to portray the essence of life as I see it. With a simple, fresh, and some times raw, observation of how things really are.

5: Preferred subject matter?
People, emotions, spirits and the magical quality of light.

6: Name one thing you haven't caught with the camera that you REALLY want to capture.
It’s not a ‘thing’ it’s a feeling… see #4 above

8: Qualifications/training in anything? ie: Photoshop
Studied photography at NYU in the 70’s.
Photoshop is a learning process. PS is like the brain, most people only use 2% of it. But digital imaging is certainly not about SOOC, it’s always have to be worked on, even for perfect exposure. It’s the nature of the beast.

9: Plans for the future
working now on completing a five year book project about the Black Hmong in Northern Vietnam.

10: In one word, describe your photography.

1 comment:

Clos ... said...

Na ?

A great man with a humanist eye and a great photograph.
You can see his love for people and more specially for his H-Mongs friends through every photos an comments in his so marvelous stream .....
each photo is a unique experience .. it's like to feel their spirit and their soul .....

Na I (and we)look foward your book ..... it will be fantastic, I'm sure ! ! ! !
and a french version will be welcome for me .... think to that ! :-))
Na ...
Thanks for your talent,
thanks for your so touching portraits,
thanks for sharing with us your passion and your knowledge,
thanks for your altruism ...
Clos !