Photographer Phạm Huy Trung. — Photo courtesy of the photographer.
After six years pursuing photography, Phạm Huy Trung has received more than 50 prestigious awards at home and abroad. His photos not only bring out the beauty of Việt Nam but also highlight the country's culture and tourism. Thành Nhân talks to Trung about his journey.
Inner Sanctum: What made you decide to pursue this career?
The predestined relationship between me and photography is a story that I think many people have experienced. I was born and raised in Hà Nội but moved to HCM City to work and live with my family for more than 10 years. My starting point is really not directly related to art or photography because I graduated with a bachelor's degree in information technology-telecommunications, and then continued to study for a master's in information and telecommunications in Sweden.
By the end of 2016, I realised that I had a real passion for photography when I fell in love with drone photography. I have experimented with many different shooting angles and set foot in many new lands to explore. After a while, I realised that photos from above give viewers a moment that is both close, familiar, inclusive, and new and unique. That is why I fell in love with this profession.
Inner Sanctum: Which photo are you most proud of?
Actually, each work created makes me proud, not only because of the awards but also because I overcome my limits through each one.
The proudest is probably Fishing in Mangrove Forest, a picture taken in winter in the Rú Chá forest, which surrounds Tam Giang lagoon, Thừa Thiên Huế Province.
The work won the first prize in the People category at the Drone Photo Awards 2021. The scene from the high angle down to the white chá trees that have lost all their leaves is deeply imprinted in my heart, and it was also the photo that brought my photography journey to a new page.
'Fishing in Mangrove Forest' by Phạm Huy Trung, winner of the People category at the 2021 Drone Photo Awards. — Photo courtesy of the photographer.
Inner Sanctum: Which work contains the most memorable story in your career?
For me, every photo created is a memorable story. For example, with the picture In the Middle of the Melaleuca Forest, at midnight, I had to drive from HCM City to Đồng Tháp Province, wait for the sun to rise to take the photo and then return to HCM City the next day.
Flowers at Sea (second prize in the National Awards category of the Sony World Photography Awards 2019) captured the scene of fishermen casting their nets to catch anchovies in the waters of Hòn Yến – Phú Yên, and took me a week to wait for the boat to take pictures.
Inner Sanctum: What elements do you need to take a good photo?
All the pictures I create are literally capturing the moment without any arrangement or involvement from the creator. All the crucial elements that make up a picture with depth come from the everyday material of human life in harmony with nature.
I respect things that are created naturally. I want to feel it through my eyes and then the lens from colour and composition to lighting, or post-production. It is impossible to choose one factor because a picture requires many things.
Inner Sanctum: How long does it usually take to have a good photo?
While pursuing an artistic path, I was determined to spend a lot of time and enthusiasm on creativity. Sometimes it only takes a few hours, but sometimes it takes a whole day to create a satisfactory image. Putting my heart into the work means my time is also reduced.
The work that gives me the most difficulty is not post-production. I used to wait many nights at the Thủ Thiêm River station to watch the moment when the fog covered the rooftops of high-rise buildings of HCM City and was finally satisfied.
Inner Sanctum: Are you a person who does everything for passion? How do you balance your life and work?
When I first entered the field of photography, I was also married, so both family and passion created the perfect person I am at present. I can't accept everything in exchange but instead need a balance between life and work. I always try to spend as much time with my family as possible, otherwise, I would let my family accompany me on my shoots.
Inner Sanctum: Have you ever been overwhelmed by negative emotions and wanted to give up?
Negativity or pressure is inevitable for every profession. I used to want to give up to return to business like many others. There was a time when I had to leave my passion behind for my life to be stable on the right trajectory.
Inner Sanctum: Is success in the photography industry based on achievements, awards, or other factors?
From my point of view, success in photography is reflected in how many meaningful aspects of a photographer's work can be conveyed to the audience. You don't have to take good pictures to be successful.
A picture with perfect composition, colour, and technique is not as impressive as a simple picture with nuanced meaning and a big message. I do my job with my heart, so a picture must have a soul to last long in the photography world.
Inner Sanctum: Why do you choose the beautiful scenery and people of Việt Nam as your main theme?
I have been very fortunate to travel to many places and set foot in many lands both at home and abroad. I feel that there is no place with a special beauty like Việt Nam.
Unique, charming, and full of identity are the words I want to describe this place's beautiful scenery and people. My hometown feels like that; the more I go, the more I feel interested and attracted by so many different aspects.
Every journey to discover the country brings me to wonder.
Inner Sanctum: Which place left the deepest impression on you?
I set a goal in 2022 to set foot in all provinces in Việt Nam. The place that left me the most impressive is probably the Mekong Delta. Experiencing riverine life with people in the west is really interesting. Although beautiful all year round, the floating season most clearly depicts the richness of life in this land. The images of ordinary life such as fishing, tending ducks or herding cattle in the flood season seem familiar, but they are unique, attractive and unmistakable.
Inner Sanctum: What role does photography play in promoting tourism?
There is a strong link between photography and travel. I find that works that have won international awards have left a deep impression on friends from all over the world, and they are also curious about the country's beauty through those pictures.
Many of my followers said they were very interested in visiting Việt Nam once in their lives to feel this land's beauty because the pictures I took were so beautiful.
I think this is also a way to contribute to Việt Nam's tourism, bringing the image of the country closer to international friends.
Inner Sanctum: What advice would you give to young people who want to pursue a career in photography?
One thing I want to say to young people, especially Generation Z, is to learn a lot and experience a lot if given the opportunity.
Passion never waits for age but is ready to wait for you to pursue. Creating the best opportunity for yourself, along with a "mind" for professional photography, and I think nothing will stop you. Young people today are much better; their thinking creates many surprises, and I am sure they succeed when they seriously pursue this path.
Inner Sanctum: What are your plans?
2022 is a year where everyone gets up after 2021 with so many ups and downs. I myself have delayed many unfinished projects, so now I will try to complete them gradually.
The path of photography can also be called artistic conquest, which is a long way to unleash creativity. So I will be more rigorous and determined in my profession to create great works beyond the audience's expectations. VNS