I returned to Hanoi for an amazing workshop with Eric Kim, an internationally recognized street photographer. Eric and his wife, Cindy, are from California and currently live in Hanoi. I met both of them in September since Cindy is also here on a Fulbright grant. We were lucky to have two of Eric’s friends, Neil Ta and Chu Viet Hà, who are also leading street photographers, join us for the workshop. The participants, several of them professional photographers themselves, traveled to Hanoi from Argentina, Australia, Canada and the US, which goes to show just how well-revered these photographers are.
It has been great spending my last week in Vietnam with Cindy and Eric, learning more about photography, meeting new people, and discovering new places.
Returning to Hanoi after a month of travel, I didn’t feel like I was coming home. I had moved out of my apartment before traveling, said goodbye to friends and was ready to treat this workshop as a stopover before moving on. The hard part is that the workshop made me fall in love with Hanoi again, which makes it more difficult to say goodbye. I discovered neighborhoods and sites that I had never been to during my four months of living here, places that were so vastly different from the ones I knew. Eric and Cindy introduced us to amazing restaurants and cafes. I now wish that I had more time to experience this amazing city.
I also was surrounded by incredible photographers who inspired me to take more photos, get closer to my subjects, and understand the elements of a great photo.
Besides the food, cafes, narrow alleys, beautiful parks, unique architecture and perfect winter weather, it is the people I will miss most about Hanoi. Throughout my time here, I met many friendly and hardworking people who were so excited to meet an American. I taught students who were eager to express themselves and took risks in sharing their poems. I worked with dedicated teachers who were always positive in the midst of challenges that are unheard of the the US. And I made many new friends here, including fellow Fulbrighters who have inspired me to learn more, travel more and expand my horizons. Last night, we all enjoyed a Valentine’s Day goodbye dinner before I headed to the airport.
Eric’s workshop turned out to be a perfect way for me to say goodbye to this city. Each day was full of learning as I interacted with amazing photographers. Our final goal, after six days of shooting, which included a three-day trip to the mountain town of Sa Pa and surrounding villages, was to choose no more than three of our top photos (of the thousands that we shot). It wasn’t easy, but worth the agony in the end. The photos shared by my fellow learners showed me even more of the Hanoi that I had yet discovered. You can see everyone’s results on Eric’s website.
Against advice from the pros who taught me this week, I just can’t share only three photos. Check out more below if you are interested.
Next stop, the Philippines! (Just landed in Manila.)