Source: Socialist Republic of Vietnam
On the occasion, photographer Ha Tuong granted an interview with Thoi Nay (Present Time) Newspaper.
Q: This will be the first time you introduce the photos from your personal archives. Could you share about your memories with the characters in your photos?
A: All of the photos that will be displayed at this exhibition are the results of “bridging relations” as my friends introduced me to them. Through talks and meetings, they grew to like me and agreed to let me take photos. For example, when I intended to photograph renowned author Nguyen Tuan, painters Bui Xuan Phai and Nguyen Sang introduced me to him. However, I had to read and study his famous works so that I could talk with him. In my photo, writer Nguyen Tuan is smoking a pipe. I captured the image of the smoke drifting from his pipe.
Q: Why did you decide to make the previous photos public after many years of quiet preservation? Did your decision stem from your desire to promote them to multiple generations?
A: Firstly, I had no such intention. I only thought that I photographed the people who I liked and respected. At that time, my biggest desire was just to do what I wanted, and I took photos because of my passion for photography. Like the writers and artists, they composed for their own passions. No one knows how their poems, short stories and novels will be commented on in the future.
When I met with painter Le Thiet Cuong four years ago, we nurtured the intention of opening the exhibition.
Photographer Ha Tuong
Q: At the time of taking these photos, the photograph had to face many difficulties compared to the present times. Could you share more about the photograph in the past and now?
A: At that time, the photography was a luxury. There was only one kind of camera (fratica) and a roll of film priced at about VND40 (a high price in those days). I hardly had enough money to develop the film. However, I still had to prepare many rolls of film to capture satisfactory moments. Conditions today are completely different from the past. Using digital cameras, photographers can delete unbeautiful photos and take others. However, because of difficulties, each photo that was shot at that time has more depth because it was the result of a persistent artistic work, concern and careful calculation.
In addition to photos of people, I have always shot landscapes, especially those in mountainous areas. After the trips, the rolls of film that I had taken were more valuable than the money. I always wrapped the film carefully in many layers and I had to select good film developers so that my photos would not be tinted, under-exposed or overexposed.
Q: Following this exhibition, do you plan to continue to showcase other photos in your archive?
A: My photo archive consists of carefully assembled films that are stored up to 10kg. But certainly, over time, there are many broken rolls, or others that have dropped in quality.
I regret most the historical film reel of the photos on Kham Thien Street during the memorable 12 days and nights in December 1972.
I am not sure whether to continue to exhibit my photos because my eyes are poor due to old age, so I am unable to see the photos clearly. However, I hope that I will have enough time and support to convert my rolls of film into digital documents so that they will be preserved for younger generations.
Thank you very much for your interview!