Hai Thanh is a photographer based in Hanoi, Vietnam. His photography is a visual diary of his daily life, showing the people he comes across and the environments they live in. A graduate of the graphic design department at the University of Industrial Fine Arts in Hanoi, Thanh went on to pursue his passion for photography full-time, working as a photojournalist for both domestic and online news outlets.
Thanh’s personal philosophy is that photography is an art form that goes beyond any categorizations of genre. He says, “I consider myself as a photographer, not a street photographer, documentary photographer, or photojournalist. These are just names. Sometimes I use photography a method of self-expression, and other times I try to tell stories about the people I care about.”
As street photography becomes more popular in Vietnam, Thanh strives to maintain an honest approach to his work on the street and his relationship to his subjects. He says, “When I’m doing street photography, I don’t try to find dramatic situations, and I’m not a big fan of ‘decisive moments.’ I take photos as naturally and simply as I can. I love photographing the emotional connection between people… I don’t think much about whether or not I can get ‘good pictures.’ I care about the connection between myself and the people I photograph. The process of photography is not only about taking pictures but also about talking and understanding.”
Thanh is currently working as a freelance editorial and documentary photographer focused mostly on social issues. In addition, he is also working on a personal project on autistic children in Vietnam. He shares his knowledge with other photographers by hosting workshops on street photography and visual storytelling across the country. As he deals with the responsibilities of raising a family, he continues his dedication to photography and offers us his thoughts on his changing relationship with the artform. “I heard this said before by another photographer – ‘photography is more and more about being on your own as you get older.’ Your pictures are talking about yourself. Photography means a lot to me – it’s my way of thinking, speaking, and listening.”