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Wouter Vanhees



Hanoi / November 2018 – May 2019

Memorable experience: For ‘Under The Skin’ I ventured around and into the temporary living quarters of construction workers near a building site. Even though I couldn’t strike up a real conversation with them (my level of Vietnamese was and is really not up to par unfortunately), I did communicate with them by gesturing and practicing the few words and sentences that I did know. I remember them as being really kind and welcoming. I must have seemed very out-of-place to the construction workers: a Westerner walking around in that area at night, making photos. They were all very curious, so I showed them some of the photos that I was making on the back screen of my camera. That got me a few thumbs-ups, after which they simply let me roam around and sometimes even would pose for impromptu portraits.

In December 2018 I went out on ‘photo missions’ for four nights in a row, exploring different areas and shooting to my heart’s content. That period was very fruitful. It’s a bit tacky to say, but I really did get into a ‘zone’. Quite a few of the images that made the final edit of ‘Hanoi Skin’ were made during those four nights. Fast forward to December 2019. During the making of ‘Hanoi Reflection’, I repeated this idea, and again it worked. The lesson I learned from both experiences is that once you really deepdive into a project like this, you tend to start seeing things which you never seemed to notice before. That’s when beautiful things start to appear.

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