I haven’t done the best job of updating my site while I’ve been away. Balancing transit, planning, shooting, taking it all in, etc. It's been hard to make the time needed to put together the right treatment for these images. The big pieces are coming together slowly but in the meantime, I’ve managed to do some smaller projects for Instagram. A handful of captioned images that when read in sequence are little “Instastories”. Perhaps they should live here as well.
Mr. Thanh was a bit of a nut but probably the best fixer I’ve had yet. Here he is in his hometown of Hanoi, Vietnam showing the lake Senator John McCain supposedly parachuted into after his plane was shot down in ‘67. I told him I wanted to see how the people of Hanoi live so he took me down to the banks of the Hong (Red) River.
Along the banks of the Red River 160,000 people live in mostly illegal or semi-permanent dwellings or boats but also farm in the area and operate small stores and even factories. It's urban, rural, and industrial all in one place. I've never seen anything quite like it.
Dirt roads, irrigations canals, and farmed plots give the area a weirdly rural atmosphere in the midst of a city of 7+ million.
Polluted irrigation canal.
In the night market serving the Red River slumtown, many people sleep in their shops during the day. It was about 9am when we showed up and Thanh saw some guys he knew drinking and playing cards after working all night.
Nice enough guys but they wouldn’t have thought twice about rolling me had I not been with someone they knew. This is why you work with a qualified guide when shooting in places like this. The difference is between being tolerated and possibly welcomed or getting robbed and having your ass kicked.
"Who the hell is this and why is he here?”
The local meat market. They have slightly different standards of hygiene in Asia. I wouldn't have thought it but it's turned me into a vegetarian. After getting violently ill twice in China from bad meat and seeing a few things of which I'll save the description for a later date, I've found myself unable to consume anything that screams.
The Vietnamese government is beginning to integrate parts of these slums into the city of Hanoi but it will take a long time to clean up such extreme pollution. If ever.
Hanoi is a hard city. Very poor, crowded, and polluted but the people are some of the nicest and friendliest you’ll ever meet. And this despite a decade of chemical warfare waged against them by the US, the effects of which people who haven’t been born yet will pay the price for. You would think they wouldn’t even issue us a visa but instead they welcome us with great warmth. I found their forgive and forget attitude incredibly humbling.