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Photographer takes turn in the spotlight

Update: March, 30/2014 - 20:39
Inner world: Ha's "The Lonely Forest" photo, published in Vogue Italia on March 10, 2013.She has just published her 100th photo in the magazine. — Photos courtesy of Tran Viet Ha

Tran Viet Ha took up photography only last year but is already publishing her work – and even branching into modeling. Lan Dung reports.

A Vietnamese name, Tran Viet Ha, recently appeared among the photographers whose works have featured in the Vogue Italia magazine.

Ha's classic-style photos have also been featured in other publications such as Visual Artistry Magazine and Get Inspired Magazine. Looking at the achievements of the 33-year-old, it is surprising to know that she started to learn photography only in early 2013.

Ha bought her first camera, a Canon EOS 6000D, two weeks after attending a one-month basic photography course at EFTI-Centro de Imagen & Fotografia Madrid. Before that, the Ha Noi-born photographer did not know a single thing about cameras.

"I almost cried after the first class since all my classmates were somehow professional photographers and already knew a lot," she reminisced about the hard time she had at the class. The course taught her a lot about photography and she did the first photo session just a week after buying the camera.

During her first year in photography, Ha did 35 photo shoots. She never really had any time to rest but has enjoyed working and shooting. "I just can't go to sleep if I don't create something new every day," she said.

At first, she sent her photos to Vogue Italia every day for its online publication, but got rejected for two months. That disheartened her a lot, but she kept working, improving and sending the photos. Her efforts paid off with 100 photos being approved by the magazine.

Ha works full-time as Senior Associate Director of Admissions at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain. Her tight day schedule forces Ha practice her hobby only in the evenings and on weekends. She spends hours and hours editing photos, planning photo sessions, contacting artists, writing to magazines, and studying the market and the trends in photography. During the weekend, she works with models, make-up artists, stylists and fashion designers to do photo shoots.

Striking pose: Ha was the model for "Violinist of Hamelin" taken by photographer Raquel Jaramago in 2012 in Spain.

Koral Antolin Maillo from Spain, who modelled for two of Ha's photo shoots, said that she has a special eye for photography.

"She has a lot of passion and energy, and often experiments and creates during the photo shoots," Maillo said. "It is my pleasure to spend time working with her, which also helped me learn that if you fight for your dreams, you make them come true." Ha and Maillo are preparing for their third photo shoot.

Her interest in arts and literature from a young age has impacted her thinking and her art. "My love for the arts, literature, philosophy and Persian mystic poetry have a profound influence on my photography, as you can see. The people who see my photos always say that they can easily tell if I am a lover of these elements," she said. "I found photography to be just a way to express my feelings, instead of writing like I used to do. Now I paint my words and imagination visually."

Photography reflects her inner world. Although the photos are always taken in the real world, Ha gives them a twist, by adding a dreamy, fantasy quality. "You might find my photography to be deeply influenced by Western arts and literature, but if you look deep into the emotions in the photos, you might also notice that the artist has a Vietnamese heart which is deeply emotional, romantic, fragile, vulnerable and always in the mood of love," she said.

How it all started

Ha started modelling in the summer of 2010 when a Colombian friend, who worked as a photographer, wanted to take photos while she was performing a belly dance. They then did several other photo sessions with other themes, and she discovered that she really enjoyed posing in front of the camera.

"Posing was very natural to me since I was a belly dancer and was used to expressing feelings with my face and eyes in front of the audience. After that, I started collaborating with numerous photographers from all over Spain to build my portfolio," she said.

Spanish photographer Raquel Jaramago had seen Ha's work as a model and asked her to join her own photo shoot, called "Violinist of Hammelin", in September 2012 and then in another shoot about beauty and fantasy with the theme of "Fairies" in October 2012.

"She had worked as a model many times before that and is a very creative person. She gives me a lot of artistic ideas and resources for the photo shoots," Jaramago said.

Ha's experience as a model has helped her in the new role. First, she knows which model would fit into which photo shoot. Second, since she knows what she wants the photos to convey to the viewers, she normally tells the models where and how to pose.

"Without my experience as a model, it would have been much, much harder for me to create good photos," she said.

Two weeks ago, Ha was invited by Vogue Italia and Vogue Talents to shoot for their Talents Shooting project in April. She is now working on this project, which is being organised in collaboration with famous Spanish artists who have worked with Dior, Glamour and the El Mundo newspaper. — VNS

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