I do often like to partake in the occasional rant, so here it goes. This one is directed towards the well renowned Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton. I have recently noticed that Brandon had taken his New York streets photoblog to Vietnam, a place that I had the opportunity to visit and photograph not too long ago. Having a look through Brandons posts, I see a lot of premeditated smiles and cheesy grins aimed at the camera. None of his photos depicted the real Vietnam as I saw it. He misses the poverty, pain and loss that these people experienced in post war Vietnamese life, which many are STILL recovering from both mentally and physically. It is something that we choose to sweep under the rug and pretend never happened, but from being there and seeing the damage it has caused, I can tell you that the pain is still something that looms like an eerie mist amongst the people. The Vietnamese war is without mention one of the greatest fuckups in American modern history, alongside Hiroshima, but not that the western world will admit to it.
Although some of the stories that Brandon used to post were moving, inspiring and motivational, he misses the true culture and history of the country and more importantly, he completely dismisses the power that a photograph can deliver by setting shots up and asking the people he interviews to pose for a photo. There really isn’t much more that annoys me about today’s world of photography. This is where the art has been lost and turned every man and dog of 2014 into a photographer (or dj). If I could pin point 1 reason why I take photographs, it would be to deliver a message of reality and truth, I seldom ever see this happen anymore.
Capturing the raw expression and the look in another human’s eyes will tell more than any blog post or blurb of text will ever tell. A photo should speak for itself. It can hold a message which delivers a truth that most of us will never get to experience or learn about from TV, newspapers or in this case, HONY. Like I said, a good photo will speak for itself, and I find nothing more fulfilling than sharing this with the people who appreciate this with me. That single second where a glimpse of an unsuspecting passerby is where the magic lies. A glimpse which “hides” the thousands of untold stories which no words could ever emote. Anyone in the street can smile for a setup photo, I don’t believe that is what “photography” is.
Don’t get me wrong, I like HONY and read through his posts and do enjoy some of them, but most of them have lost all substance. His Vietnam series completely miss what Vietnam is actually like and further portray the westernisation of non western countries. The beauty of Vietnam lies in the culture, the poverty and the history, all of what was completely missed by Brandon. What used to be stories about intricate details of people’s lives with underlying messages have now turned to rubbish questions such as “What is your favourite part of the day”. Disappointing as all hell if you ask me.
Here are some photos from my body of work from Vietnam, this is the first time I am releasing these photos and to be honest, I think these photos show a much more transparent and traditional side to what Vietnam is really like. Minus the cheesy interview questions. Enjoy.