According to photographer Phan Thị Khánh, photography is for everyone. Expensive equipment isn’t necessarily needed when people can shoot beautiful photographs and capture precious moments with just a smartphone. — Photo courtesy of the artist
From an ordinary bank worker to a photographer who has won hundreds of national and international awards such as the Sony World Photography Awards, the Agora Awards and most recently, gold and silver medals at the Tokyo International Foto Awards, Phan Thị Khánh is an example of how success can come to those least expecting it.
Việt Nam News’ Hoàng Hồ spoke with Khánh about her passion, hard work and dedication on the way to the top.
Inner sanctum: What does photography mean to you? Can you tell us about your first camera?
Photography came to me at the most difficult time in my life, it is not only a passion but photography has also helped me survive, rise and stand.
Besides being a photographer, I’m also a bank worker. I think life is full of miracles and photography is the gift that life has graciously bestowed on my relentless efforts.
The Sony A6000 is the first camera I used, after taking pictures for a month, I needed to upgrade the equipment to unleash my creativity, so I changed to a higher model.
For me it was an exciting start and I am truly amazed at what a professional camera can bring. I can expose with a slow shutter or capture instant moments with high shutter speed. I have been fascinated with photography since then.
Inner sanctum: What was the turning point in your photography career? Which photo and contest brought you to the spotlight?
I think it was the photo “Mud Ghost” at the Sony World Photography Awards 2019. I won the first prize in the National Award category. This is one of my favourite photos that brought me this prestigious award, brought me out to the world and helped a newbie like me back then to believe that I can achieve my dream.
Inner sanctum: What’s the best photo that you’ve ever taken? Can you tell us more about that photo as well as the artistic intent when choosing such an angle? Also, what was the most difficult photo in your career?
“Flower on the Water” is considered the most successful photo of my photography career. The photo has won many awards and medals at international competitions.
When women wash water lilies on the rivers in the southwest of Việt Nam, they are like hard working bees besides the flowers. I wanted to illustrate the beauty of southern women in such a unique way.
The “Landmark 81: Aspiration to Rise” collection is a series of photos that consumed a lot of my time and effort. I stayed up all night for more than two months and shot different moments of Landmark 81 which is a magnificent symbol of Hồ Chí Minh City.
A photo in the collection entitled "Landmark 81 – Aspiration to Rise Higher", taken by Phan Thị Khánh, won gold medal at the 2019 Young Photographers Festival organised by the culture ministry's Department of Fine Arts, Photography and Exhibition. Photo courtesy of the artist
Inner Sanctum: What factors are essential to get the best photo?
I shoot pretty slow. I take the time to observe and study the terrain before shooting. My colleagues always tease each other as they see a photographer also as a geographer and an astronomer, etc. In order to have brilliant photos, in addition to technical manipulation on the camera, you must carefully research the shooting location in advance such as terrain, soil, people, weather and other factors. Photography is a job that requires meticulousness and thoroughness.
Inner sanctum: In your opinion, what is special about Việt Nam? And what do you want to convey through landscape photos of our country?
I realised that Việt Nam has many valuable materials for photography. Our country has a colourful culture with many traditional craft villages, which many countries in the world do not have. I want to bring the beautiful images of Việt Nam to the world in one way or another, I want friends around the world to know more about Việt Nam and it’s amazing that many people said: "I will go to Việt Nam” when seeing my photos.
"Hoa trên nước" (Flower on the Water) won first prize in the People category at the 2019 Drone Awards. — Photo courtesy of the artist
Inner Sanctum: What advice do you have for those just starting out in photography?
Today, equipment for photography is very diverse. With just a smartphone you can also shoot beautiful photographs and capture precious moments. You don’t necessarily need expensive equipment, just use your creativity for unique camera angles as I believe everyone has their own creative way of shooting photos.
However, a professional camera will make it possible for you to do more with photography for different purposes. For example, travel photos, press photos can sometimes be captured by just a phone. However, with commercial photography, you will need a more professional device.
Let's be eager to learn, expand our perspective and think about the output for your work. I’m sure that you will have a stable source of income to maintain your passion. VNS