Da Lat, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi
When OZY Media sent a journalist to Vietnam, they reached out to NOI Pictures in search of a photographer who could cover three stories in three different cities throughout the country. NOI Director Francois Carlet-Soulages knew it would be a great opportunity to coordinate the shoot with three NOI photographers to give each story a unique visual identity and ensure a timely workflow.
In Ho Chi Minh City, Tim Gerard Barker photographed Kendy, Vietnam’s first openly transgender bodybuilder. Quinn Ryan Mattingly was sent to the central highlands of Da Lat to cover the K’ho Coffee farms, a small family run business producing specialty arabica coffee beans. And in Hanoi, Bao Khanh shot Mai Khoi, Vietnam’s “Lady GaGa.”
Beyond setting the date, arranging the travel and speaking with the writer about our plans for the shoot, everything else was fairly self-explanatory and didn’t require a lot of extra planning.
We met at K’Ho Cafe’s headquarters just outside of Dalat city, where we met the owners and were given more details about their background and what they do. We also sampled some coffee and had a look around their coffee tree gardens around their office. [The shoot] was fairly quick, as there wasn’t a plethora of subject matter to cover and once I covered and shot everything I could find, we did some portraits of the owners as well, who were lovely.
The biggest challenge was that it wasn’t harvest season, which comes in the fall, so the coffee plants weren’t quite as colorful or full as I would have liked to see and photograph. I also hoped we could get some larger, more grand fields to photograph, but were told those were quite far up the mountain, away from the office, so we weren’t able to see them on this day. I tried to make the best with what was available around us, as we always must do for shoots that don’t turn out exactly as we might plan in our minds. But given the time of year, the subject’s time and the time the writer had, I think we did pretty good.