Diving into ethnic diversity of northern Vietnam

The traditional costumes of northern Vietnam’s ethnic minorities become even more vibrant through the portraits done by American photographer Alden Anderson.

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Photo collection “The ethnic diversity of northern Vietnam” by Alden Anderson, an American living in Vietnam, wins a special prize at the Vietnam Heritage Photo Awards 2019. (Photo: Heritage)

Anderson’s album, entitled The Ethnic Diversity of Northern Vietnam, introduces portraits of 11 ethnic groups in the Northern Uplands of Vietnam. These stunning portraits have recently been honoured at the Vietnam Heritage Photo Awards 2019.

Vietnam Heritage Photo Awards’ judge Tran Viet Van applauded the album, saying that the photos leave viewers with deep impressions by conveying direct, straightforward dialogues between the portrayed person and the viewers.

Van added that The Ethnic Diversity of Northern Vietnam can be considered a precious ethnographic document, capturing images of ethnic minorities in their unique and original costumes which are elaborated with their lifestyle and ethnic features.

“I am humbled and honoured to receive such a prize,” said Alden Anderson. “Part of the grand prize includes VND20 million (US$860), which Trinh and I will give back to the people we photographed by printing and delivering photos to them, as well as sending care packages and financial support,” he added.

During the summer, Anderson and his local partner Trinh Nguyen spent two months on their motorbikes exploring the remotes corners of Northern Vietnam and photographing people from many different ethnic groups. He was then constantly fascinated with their unique culture, clothing, and kindness.

Each of the photos conveys a personal story, that Anderson tried to capture as well as possible. To this regard, Anderson took these intimate portraits while sitting with the people and getting to know more about them, their life, and their culture.

Anderson is living in Hoi An and working on his long-term photography project Vietnam the People, which focuses on photographing and documenting people’s stories all across Vietnam.

In addition to Anderson’s photo series, the Vietnam Heritage Photo Awards 2019 also honoured 15 more winners in categories such as photo collection, cover photo, and single photo. The first prize for the best photo collection has been awarded to Thanh The Vinh’s Tau Sai Ritual Ceremony of Dao Son Dau Ethnic Group.

The second prize for the best cover photo went to A New Day at Tuyen Lam Lake by photographer Nguyen Tan Tuan while the first prize went to Long Bien Bridge by Tuan Dao.

Le Hoang Dung, head of the organizing board, said, “All of the participants showcased fresh and creative expressions with modern photographic techniques.”

This year’s seventh season of the annual photography awards by Vietnam Airlines’ Heritage magazine was themed Journey of Heritages. The contest saw 183 photo albums and more than 2,500 single shots, including 474 cover photos. All of them revolve around the theme of promoting the image of Vietnam and its world heritage sites.
Time Out

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