By Lê Hương
Over the past year and a half, people across the world have found various ways to try and inspire themselves and others to get through the tough times and isolation of social distancing.
Nguyễn Kỳ Anh, 26, an interior designer, who resides in HCM City, has found his own way: taking photos of hard-working people on the streets.
His photo project, titled Sài Gòn Moments, captures wrinkles on the faces and the hard work of street sellers, whose eyes and smiles contain hope for a better future.
Needy people express their happiness in Anh's photos. Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Kỳ Anh
“HCM City is now experiencing the most serious ever situation of the pandemic,” he told Việt Nam News. “More than anyone else, homeless people and poor labourers have faced challenges.”
“Also due to the pandemic, I have more free time from work to carry out the project to capture the life of people I see every day on the way to work,” he said.
He spends time talking to each person he photographs to try and understand their story.
Uncle Hùng - 70, lonely, with only one eye and one hand, selling lottery tickets. Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Kỳ Anh
Anh then posts the photos on his Facebook account with a caption and instructions on how to find the person pictured so people can support them if they want.
The captions aim to show the difficulties each subject faces, for example, "grandmother Hương, 72 – lonely, without parents, no offspring, gathers bottle racks at night on Nguyễn Thị Thập Street", or "Uncle Minh, 63, offers bike service, no family, no relatives" and Uncle Diên, photographer at the Notre Dame, 80, lonely but always happy.
Each person is shot close-up from various angles using natural light sources.
“I consider it my special support to such needy people, for whom I should spare no efforts to ease their life if I can,” he said.
So far, Anh has taken photos of 10 people and plans to keep the project going indefinitely.
Anh mostly takes the photos at midday or at night and has given many of them some money from himself and his friends to support them.
“I hope with my photos and writing on my Facebook, they can receive more support from our community,” he said.
Anh said he was not doing the project for himself.
“I just want to take simple photos of the characters at work,” he said. “I hope I can send some of my feelings in the photos. The project will be a highlight of my youth journey.
Quốc Đại, a fan of the photographs, admires Anh’s compassion.
Grandmother Hương, 72 – lonely, without parents, no offspring, gathers bottle racks at night in Nguyễn Thị Thập Street. Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Kỳ Anh
“He must have great sympathy for the needy to take such photos,” he said. “I’m moved looking at thin old women selling things on the streets or disabled men working as lottery sellers. They are so inspiring with their efforts in life.”
The Đồng Tháp-born man said he would soon post pieces of writing and clips on the needy people on his YouTube channel '1st.themoments' to share more about the characters.
Anh is a popular name among young travellers and is known as a travel blogger involved in community projects.
A graduate of the HCM City University of Architecture in interior design, Anh now works at the Holm Decor Company.
He took up photography as a second-year student and then became chairman of the university’s Photography Club. He was also responsible for the PR images of the university’s youth union.
Anh has travelled widely and written a lot.
“Being young, I want to explore and do whatever I want,” he said. “I feel the world is so big and I’m so small. I’d better step out of my safety zone to reach more regions and feel the diverse beauty of life.”
Among the regions he has been to, Anh was most impressed by Hà Giang Province and Huế City.
He captured Hà Giang in a photo collection titled Golden Season- Relaxing Season featuring the beauty of the local karst plateau, terrace rice fields and people.
Huế was featured in a collection titled The Good Old Dynasty focusing on its heritage value.
Uncle Ninh, 70, one leg, selling lottery tickets at the junction of Nguyễn Thị Thập and Nguyễn Văn Linh streets. Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Kỳ Anh
“I felt much moved to visit the former royal capital with long-lasting architectural beauty,” he said.
Anh likes to capture images of reality around him, while natural beauty or people can also inspire him to take photos.
“At a young age, I liked literature,” he said. “I’m sensitive, love beauty and emotions. I care lots about small details as they make up the general images."
“I also nurture my artful soul with experiences in trips,” he said. “Each trip brings different stories, which help form my ideology and diversified view.” VNS
The designer loves photography and travelling. Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Kỳ Anh