Hanoi through the eyes of an English photographer

(VOVWORLD) - Hanoi’s rich history, culture, and architecture have inspired a great number of Vietnamese and foreign artists. Marcus Lacey, a professional photographer from England is one. He has lived and took photographs of England, New Zealand, Africa, Holland, and many other countries. He has stayed in Hanoi for 2 years and recently published a photo book capturing the beauty of Hanoi’s people and landscapes. Let’s find out about why Marcus loves Hanoi so much on today’s “Culture Rendezvous”.

Hello, Marcus! Welcome to VOV24/7’s Culture Rendezvous! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My father gave me a camera when I was 7. I’ve been taking photographs for nearly 40 years. After I left school I went to college to study photography and design and moved to London. I enjoyed living in England for a long time and ended up moving to New Zealand. I was lucky enough to work for Fuji Film, manage their photo specialty channel, and be able to start using amazing photographic equipment to build my own library of photographs.

You said that you’ve traveled to many countries to take photographs. Why did you choose Hanoi for your first-ever photo book?

Because my brother, an engineer, was staying here. He invited me over to help him with his project. And as soon as I got here I fell in love with Hanoi. It’s a really beautiful place. I love its water: lakes, rivers, the sea, the amazing West Lake, and beautiful Red River, incredible architecture. It’s changing so rapidly. You’ve got a really exciting culture, people trying to make a brand new city but at the same time really appreciating what it is. It’s beautiful about the history of Vietnam and the history of Hanoi which is fascinating. Obviously it’s a mixture of different historical influences: the original Vietnamese old stilt houses and wooden buildings of which there are still a few in the Old Quarter or its Chinese influence or the Franco architecture influence, or the Soviet influence. It’s really a fascinating and beautiful city to be in and to photograph. I was lucky to find a newish that hadn’t been exploited yet in terms of being a Westerner with a really strong background in appreciating a number of different things that make this city unique: its amazing architecture over a hundred years old like the very old pagodas. Having that appreciation of the historical journey that this city has been through, I can relate to that and understand exactly why foreigners are so in love with this city.  

How did you come up with the idea of making a photo book on Hanoi?

I got here almost 2 and a half years ago and straightaway I started posting some of my pictures on social media. There are Facebook groups now for the expat community but also the English-speaking Vietnamese community that can understand. I started to post pictures on that. It was fascinating to get lots of feedback from the Vietnamese and Hanoians and foreigners from around the world on what they were really enjoying or which pictures they liked. From there, I was able to build up a great portfolio of work from Hanoi and its architecture, landscape, and wild life. People started recommending that I should bring out a book. It’s been going very well.

How did you prepare for the process of taking photographs in many different places?

After being obsessed with the countryside and the landscape around like Ba Vi, the Red River, and the bridges, I began to take some city scenes and look at how rapidly, when we’re talking now back 18 months ago towards the end of 2017, the skyline was changing remarkably quickly. As soon as I realized that, I thought I really needed to start making a record of that as well as some city scenes that might be really different in just a year or two years’ time. That’s exactly what I did. I bought some historical books, some biographies of the city. I read those and started to make a list of places that needed to be seen and recorded. I went to a lot of museums. I started to work, towards the middle of 2018, on a breakdown by chapter of how I thought a visitor or somebody who lived here for a while would want to take away their memories of the city. That’s a difficult process. I had 500 to 700 photographs of those subjects and chose the ones that are the best.

Do you plan to take photographs of other places in Vietnam after Hanoi?

I will travel to Son Tay town, Ninh Binh, and some paper making villages, but I think now I will focus on getting the Hanoi book finished.

Thank you, Marcus, for this talk! We hope to see more photographs of your journey in Vietnam!

Check out photos taken by Marcus Lacey featuring Hanoi's beauty:

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Hanoi through the eyes of an English photographer - ảnh 7
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Hanoi through the eyes of an English photographer - ảnh 9
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