Vietnam…a photographer’s notebook


vietnamblog171What do you do after spending 14 plus months
renovating/reconstructing/rebuilding your house? I should mention that we house-hopped the entire time – 5 months with one friend, 5 months with another, 3 months with another, 2 weeks house sitting in an air stream, 3 weeks with my dad who lives an hour away.
I know, I know…CRAZY.

There is so much I would do differently now that I’m on the other end, so much. Even down to the trip we took after we moved back into the house.

“Relaxing trip to Vietnam” is what were we thinking. What we really needed was a few weeks in the Yucatan, swimming and sipping margaritas on the beach. What we did was an adventure trip covering the breadth of the developing country of Vietnam.

What was the thinking behind this? Well, it went like this:
Both my partner and I have traveled extensively; between the two of us, we have covered somewhere around sixty different countries. We both wanted a location we’d never visited before (this was tough…think Nepal,Antarctica)…plus it needed to be affordable. Scratch Australia, New Zealand, China, then we thought Southeast Asia. Not enough time to get to Laos and Cambodia; Thailand maybe too touristy…we landed upon Vietnam. Totally affordable, beautiful and the food culture there…AMAZING.

It was all that, truly, but from the minute our feet touched land in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City),it was an over-stimulated, multitasked, completely scattered journey.

Vietnam has to have one of the most visual cultures I have ever photographed, right up there with the old City in Delhi.
Life in that country is truly lived on the streets
and the people…such amazing faces, such beauty. The food possibilities there are endless, endless. All the food stalls on the streets are present from the north in Hanoi to Da Lat in the mountains and Nha Trang on the coast all the way to the south in Ho Chi Minh City. These street foods can reveal so much about the history and the culture of this beautiful country. It was like photographing a circus, the Super Bowl and a food festival all at the same time.

Try doing that for two weeks. I needed a vacation from my vacation.

Above are some of my favorite images from the trip. I tried to limit the number of photographs I posted, here’s where a good photo editor goes a long way, but honestly it’s Vietnam…seriously, you can’t show that country in a few photographs…


Filed under About Penny, Asia, assignments, Favorite Places, food history, International Assignments, photography, travel, Vietnam

17 Responses to Vietnam…a photographer’s notebook

  1. Stunning photos. I wanted to go to Vietnam before I saw this post…having to move it way up the list, now! Thanks for sharing your trip!

  2. Natanya Anderson

    Penny, thank you so much for giving us this glimpse of Vietnam through your eyes. The combination of people, culture, and food in your imagery is just amazing.

  3. Just gorgeous. You have a way of making photographs that send my heart into a flutter and force the breath out of my lungs. I want that sandwich wrapped in newspaper!

  4. Ashley G

    SO beautiful, Penny! I’m glad you posted so many photos. I can’t imagine one of those being left out.

  5. Thank you Ash, Addie, Natanya and Michelle for your very generous posts.
    I love it when I get comments, makes going out on a limb with this blog totally worth it.

  6. Penny, Fantastic stuff. Banh mi in itself is worth the trip to Vietnam.

  7. Dang, woman. Those are lovely images that capture the essence of Vietnam. They make me hungry and want to cook!

  8. A.T Nguyen

    Love the photos. Very beautiful.

  9. thecosmiccowgirl

    just had a chance to really sit down and look at these–the sandwich pic made me want to weep. just gorgeous.

  10. modbeet

    i just returned home from a three week journey to vietnam ! The street vendors and the amount of activity was sometimes overwhelming especially in Ha Noi and Saigon but the food itself was an amazing experience. I tried to eat everyday on the streets and loved every minute of it . Thanks for sharing your pics….loved em ! I highly recommend a trip to vietnam for anyone that’s looking for great food and a wonderful culture .

  11. Mah gawd, these pictures are just amazing! Thanks so much for sharing your experience there!

  12. Jam

    seeing these pictures make me homesick. Nothing beat eating in Southeast Asia. The heat, the people, the smell of the food. The whole experience. I wish I were home.

  13. Anna

    Awesome pics! I just came back from a 5 day trip-wish my pics looked like yours!!! If you want cheap/relaxation try Koh Samui, Thailand. I agree, Vietnam is AWESOME but NOT relaxing!!!

  14. Masterchfjay

    Having spent many years in this wonderful country I appreciated deeply the photos of the peopl I so came to respect and love, thier traditions, foods and heart is wonderfully portrayed in your pics thank you

  15. Anne

    Thank you for Vietnam. But … more…more! Not enough pictures to savor the place and your talent. Do you put things on Flicker?
    Thank you for the piece on the gang member. I used to shoot pro myself (studio stuff, retail catalogues, then portrait), then…got into photographing eating disordered clients. Can a photographic session change a life? You bet! Some of my clients turned themselves around! And…I?…I became a nurse.

  16. Vietnam is such a lovely place – nice people and great food!

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