Tran Tuan Viet – a visual storyteller

(VOVWORLD) - With hopes to become a visual storyteller instead of a photographer, amateur Tran Tuan Viet has done his best to capture moments of innocence, intimacy and freshness in Vietnam. He has also promulgated Vietnam’s people, landscape, and traditional culture to the world by virtue of his achievements. This year, he won in the Travel category at the 15th annual Smithsonian Photo Contest, one of world’s most prestigious contests for photographers.

“This is simply amazing”, “The colors are wonderful, as is the lighting” are some of the comments made by foreign photographers about Viet’s photos. Viet says: “I’m an amateur so I have to learn everything from A to Z. Photography is my passion; it brings me happiness in life. It helps me to capture the most beautiful moments in life, to relax after a hard working day, to be at peace and just enjoy life.”

Viet was once an architectural student at the National University of Civil Engineering, but the love for photography seized his heart the instant he touched a camera as a child. Viet then decided to pursue his passion for photography. Viet again: “Like many photography lovers, I have traveled far and wide to take that perfect photo. I feel like I’ve been chasing the sunrise my whole life.”

Over the past 11 years, he has been busy with capturing candid shots of life. He says he took more than 7 years to find his own path in photography: to become a visual storyteller. Viet says that Vietnam is very beautiful, with contrasting elements like its imposing landscape to its unassuming people. So he wants to promote Vietnam’s image to his international friends. The most important thing, he adds, show foreigners what they might never have guessed about Vietnam before. “It’s not only commonplace photos of landscape and people, but behind the images are stories of Vietnamese culture and lifestyle that not everybody knows about. I hope I can disseminate these stories about Vietnam through photography”.

Tran Tuan Viet – a visual storyteller - ảnh 1Making incense: A woman dries incense sticks at a craft village in Quang Phu Cau Commune in Hanoi’s outer district of Ung Hoa.

The image of a woman sitting between dyed bundles of incense in Quang Phu Cau commune, Hanoi; a farmer raising ducks in southwest Hanoi; and farmers in Hung Yen province  knitting “Do” - a fishing tool made from bamboo ... all these simple photos have marked Viet’s achievements in photography over the past 11 years. At the 15th annual Smithsonian Photo Contest, the photo “Making Incense” by Tran Tuan Viet won in the Travel category. His photo is one of the most-viewed images in the history of the photo contest, with more than 50,000 views so far. The winning photo was among more than 48,000 entries submitted by photographers from 155 countries and territories from around the world, in six categories: The natural world, The American experience, Travel, People, Altered Images, and Mobile. Viet’s “Making Insence” was published in National Geographic Magazine. “There are many people who could take a photograph of someone making incense. I aim to tell a story about the cultural tradition, where incense is considered a sacred connection to Vietnamese people.”

Tran Tuan Viet – a visual storyteller - ảnh 2Farmers in Hung Yen province are knitting “Do” - a fishing tool made from bamboo.

Cao Pham Phuong Linh, a student of Hanoi-Amsterdam high school, expresses her impression on Viet’s photos: “When I see Viet’s photo in a foreign magazine, I feel so proud that a Vietnamese photographer is bringing Vietnam’s image to the world. I think his photos are filled with emotional intensity. Photos with lighter tones express a fresh look about Vietnamese people, while photos with darker tones express an intimacy and closeness to the people.”

Tran Tuan Viet – a visual storyteller - ảnh 3Photographer Tran Tuan Viet

Viet has 22 photos selected as top photos of the day by National Geographic’s Your Shot Photo Community.  Viet says: “I’m very happy each time I look at my work when it has been featured in a prominent position in a magazine. I feel very proud because the photos tell stories about Vietnamese land, people, and culture, and appear in a well-established and prestigious magazine. I love such photos very much. I see the profound simplicity of Vietnamese daily life which foreigners, even some young Vietnamese people, I think, have no chance to see. So, I selected some photos of daily life to send out into the bustle of the world stage, and fortunately they have received a positive response. Some judges said those photos help them to see a different side Vietnam than they have ever seen before.”

Tran Tuan Viet – a visual storyteller - ảnh 4The Swan

In addition, Viet’s photo “The Swan” won the gold medal at the 9th International Artistic Photo Contest in Vietnam last year. Nguyen Viet Thanh is a journalist from Vietnamnews: “Viet has made some significant steps in photography in recent times. This is the achievement of an amateur photographer. I think this is also a good sign to come for young Vietnamese photographers.”

“Your images show us life in Vietnam that we would never have known about.  Your images are a great ambassadorial tool for Vietnam.” Those were comments by Canadian photographer Carolyn Angus on Viet’s photo of “Go fishing” on Viet’s dream to be a visual storyteller comes true when more and more people know more about Vietnam through his photos. Viet says: “I hope I could introduce more photos about Vietnam to the world. I will open a small exhibition or write a book to share my thoughts, photos, and achievements.” 

By telling interesting stories through photos, Tran Tuan Viet has secured his position in the global photography community. He has been a contributing factor in bringing Vietnam closer to the world. 



I am interested in the "Making Incense" photo. Are your photos available for purchase?