Why photography?


   Several years ago, if you asked me why I liked photography so much, I would happily answer that I feel confident behind the lenses if not the urge to discover the technical aspects. You know, back to the days when professional (or pseudo-pro) photography was exorbitantly expensive, considering all the rigging, the equipment you had to purchase. I thought that I might look cool using all those ‘advanced’ stuff, not knowing that I was swirled into a whirlpool of social trend.

   Ever since the day when I first received my smartphone, I have taken a lot of photos. Photos of me, of my friends, of my friends and me and of nearly everything I find interesting or picturesque. Countless shots were fired with the aftermath of over thousands of photos. Still, I did not feel any satisfaction back then. Of course, there was a hint of satisfaction but it only lasted for a few hours at most. It is like you get to show these photos with people, people like them on Facebook and it just drifted away down the memory lane. It is like when you eat a really tasty cut of beef; it was, without a doubt, delicious. However, the scent fades away as soon as you leave the dinner table. For short: not very long-lasting. Photo-taking soon became just a norm to me. I gradually bore no interest. There was something missing from those photos; I always felt like the pictures I had taken had nothing in difference. They are becoming more of a cliché. Until very recently…

   I first held a dSLR camera about 3 months ago (May) from now (August). It is not like holding a more-of-a-pro camera will help rejuvenate my passion for taking photos. I was on edge when I received it, even though it was just an entry-level beginner dSLR with nothing to stand out from a variety of today’s hi-end cameras. Yet, the feelings were mixed. I was ambivalent: happy but something still held my trigger finger back. I was not smiling because of the pictures I took. More like with what I took those pictures. This time around, I embarked on a journey (sounds grand enough, LOL), a journey to find what have been buried inside myself years ago…


   The first big event to put my camera and my camera skills to work was during Goethe Institut’s Deutschsprachcamp. The photos I took show faces of my friends or they doing something else other than smiling (let’s not get into the details here). Anyway, today, when I look back to those photos, I cannot help but to smile. The feeling swells up inside of me. For the first time in forever (sing it!), the pictures I took do not feel cliche after all. Filling up from the bottom of my once empty heart is the great pleasure of taking photos. After coming home from the summer camp, I was recruited into IM Venture and into its Amazing Race-based project Viet Venture.  In a glance, the project was for our young generation to discover every (amazing) corner of Sai Gon, Viet Nam – the city in which I am living. The race took place from Saturday to Sunday, so two days. It was much fun and I took a container (figuratively) of pictures. And so on, the whole summer, I went through ups and downs (literally) with IM Venture’s events and projects. It was tiresome physically, but at the same time, uplifting spiritually. After each event, I have what I would like to call: aftermath upload. I uploaded every photo I took during the course of the events. The numbers were massive. In total, I uploaded 1,500+ high-res pictures. However, the numbers are not really the factor in deciding whether I am happy or not. I have finally found the remedy, the answer to my lackadaisical feelings.

   I have realized that the photos I took are images of people smiling at me or images of people surprised to be taken pictures while in their worst shapes (heh heh heh). Moreover, they are happy and glad that I took those photos. This is common sense: photos are memory-keeping devices. The moments are frozen in time – everlasting. That is what I truly treasure. That is what drives my love for photography. In my opinion, that is the greatest thing a not-really-a-photographer would have in his or her heart as a fuel of this burning passion.


This blog post was finished and published at 12:12AM on August 3rd, 2015

By Nguyễn Hoàng Anh

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