The HCM City Photography Artist Association (HOPA) is preparing for its 8th congress. Over the years, HOPA’s members have won international and domestic prizes making a contribution to culture and art in the city and international exchange.
Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn ) newspaper reporter Thúy Bình spoke with Hoàng Thạch Vân, the association’s deputy chairman about HOPA's achievements and challenges.
Could you tell us about the association's performance in the last few years?
The association has more than 450 members with veteran photographers accounting for 60 per cent. It is a good sign that the association has more young members.
They have participated in and won hundreds of prizes at the domestic and international photography contests. Many of them have been recognised as members of the International Federation of Photographic Art (FIAP) and photography associations in the US, Spain and Singapore.
Professional photographers have contributed to photography development in HCM City and across the country as well.
However, the association's office at 122 Sương Nguyệt Ánh Street, District 1 is small. So it cannot receive a large number of visitors to the exhibitions which have been held at the office. We used to hold exhibitions in bigger places such as the HCM City Union for Literature and Arts Associations but there are fewer visitors coming to see.
Therefore, we have struggled to introduce and popularise artworks.
I think HCM City’s culture development strategy should invest in an exhibition hall in the centre of the city. This could be used for all kinds of art not only photos and visual artworks.
The biggest difficulty is human resources. We want to have a team of proficient trainers.
How do the association’s photographers take part in training?
In HCM City, photography training has been performed in colleges and universities. It is mainly in press departments so it doesn’t focus on photography. Only the Photography Department at HCM City School of Culture and Arts has enrolment but it also encounters difficulties.
The association has organised training courses at all levels for photography lovers. However, the curriculum is not updated.
The city should pay attention to photography training investing in the Photography Department at the School of Culture and Arts. The association should have a curriculum which is recognised by the Ministry of Education and Training.
We want to work with junior and high schools and colleges as well to introduce photography art and help students learn about it. This will be useful career guidance.
To do this, we need to work with State-level management and the People's Committee, Department of Culture and Sports and Department of Education and Training.
What do you think about copyright violations?
Currently, the country does not have any organisation to protect copyright. HOPA is asking the law office to draft documents for photography copyright.
Maybe, next year we will have a detailed plan and set up a desk for copyright protection. It will be responsible for the association members’ copyright.
Over the years, there have been a lot of copyright violations. Social networks and communication companies use photos which photographers post on their Facebook without permission.
Violations are very common for wall art calendars. Some time, calendar makers have paid to use a photo once but then the photo is used many times.
When we find businesses that have violated our copyright by using photos for their advertisements, they just apologise. The association just raises its voice in public. We don’t have the right to handle the violations.
It is necessary to have an organisation for copyright protection.
What are your hopes for the future?
We will continue to develop professional activities. We need investment from the State and relevant agencies.
In the next period, the association will set up a database for research. We want to be supported to display and popularise artworks in Nguyễn Huệ walking street, Book Street and Tao Đàn Park.
We also wish to have a financial source to make a photo book on HCM City. The book will compile photos featuring the city's development process.
We hope relevant agencies in the city give us favourable conditions to have international exchange and experience sharing. VNS