Photographer Viet Thanh: I didn’t realise when I fell into photojournalism

Update: 19:38 | 21/12/2018
Established as an experience photojournalist, Nguyen Viet Thanh has been invited to join the jury at many photo contests over the past few years. Thanh said that he is always excited whenever working as a judge of competition as it helps him learn from young photographers, thus completing his skill.
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You have rich experience in photojournalism and have gained considerable success in this field. However, you came to this job accidentally, didn’t you

Yes, I did. I first worked at Vietnam News as a newspaper designer. During my work, I became interested in photojournalism from foreign media. My first gift that I gave to myself was a camera, which also helped me earn a training course on photography in Ho Chi Minh City.

During the course, I had the opportunity to meet the world’s leading photojournalists, such as James Nachway, Garry Knight and Tim Page, who fuelled an endless source of inspiration for photojournalism. I didn’t even realise when the love for photojournalism was cultivated in my soul.

It is said that being a photojournalist is a hard job which requires a lot of gifted skills and quality. What do you think about this statement?

Photojournalism is an extremely fierce job. Anyone who wants to go for this job has to be well-prepared beforehand and ask themselves whether their passion for this job is strong enough. The business isn’t a well-paid job, if at all, and it doesn’t deserve your effort.

Many celebrated photojournalists around the world have given advice that if you want to work as a photojournalist, you have to equip yourself with not only curiosity, keen observation, and bravery but also a firm economic status. However, there have been many photojournalists who have built reputations despite growing up in poverty.

photographer viet thanh i didnt realise when i fell into photojournalism
Nguyen Viet Thanh has rich experience in photojournalism and has gained considerable success in this field. (Photo: Viet Thanh Nguyen)

Do you live well from your job?

I have to do extra jobs, such as giving lecturers, but overall I earn enough to live my personal life. It requires great cost to indulge the passion for photojournalism as you have to keep yourself updated with technology.

Do you notice any gap between Vietnamese photojournalists and their foreign colleagues? And what do you think about the quality of Vietnamese photojournalism today?

At present, the gap between Vietnamese photojournalists and their foreign colleagues has been shortened, regarding both qualification and awareness. The world has become flat and modern equipment has help photojournalists to gain easier access to information.

There are many Vietnamese people who have kept up with the world’s current trends in photojournalism. It is an encouraging sign. However, photojournalism in Vietnam has not gained a proper pace in society. Those who work in the business do not get well paid or receive full appreciation from the public.

How do you value the percentage of the two factors of techniques and feelings in a successful press photo?

Genuine feeling accounts for 70% of a press photo, the remaining goes to technique, and patience to seize the right opportunity.

Smartphones have become a growing challenge for photographers, particularly photojournalists. What do you think about this?

We can not deny the importance of smartphone in modern press today, particularly in the context of the boom of information and technology. There is a category created for mobile photography in many photo contests around the world.

Photojournalists can consider smartphones as quick access to take photos anywhere and anytime. However, the decisive factor of a successful photo lies in the feeling of the photographer and the story he wants to convey to viewers, rather than devices.

You have been invited to join jury of many photo contests over the past few years. Do you think it is your new job after years travelling around working as a photojournalist?

As for me, being a judge is part of my job as it provides me a chance to admire beautiful photos, which can arouse a lot of feelings inside me. It also helps me learn a new angle of view and techniques from younger photographers, thus completing my skills.

You have been in the jury of ‘The Beauty of Vietnam’ photo contest, which is hosted by Nhan Dan Television, from the very beginning of the event. What do you think about the contest after its three editions?

The photo contest has adapted major adjustments regarding content and the approach on press photos. It has honoured diversified realities in today’s life and human values.

How can photo contests help to improve the quality of the country’s photography, in your opinion?

Photo contests are designed to provide entrants with experience and encourage them to share their view with experts. No matter what the awards are, they might be milestones and motivation for them to move forward. Entries submitted to recent photo contests have shown good techniques, positive findings, and humanity among the entrants.

Thank you so much for your sharing!

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(Source: NDO)