Travel Photography in Vietnam

Readers of my facebook page will be well aware that last month, Laura and I were travelling around Vietnam. The purpose of the trip wasn’t travel photography in Vietnam, but to explore and meet people from this fabulous country, eat some nice food, and drink some good cocktails. That is exactly what we did and along the way I tried to capture the spirit and essence of the country as best as I could through the viewfinder 🙂

 I took along my Fuji XPro 1, and despite meeting the concrete from a decent height on two occasions, it performed admirably, and I thoroughly enjoyed not lugging around a large SLR and a selection of heavy lenses! Laura carried the Fuji x20 and I hope to blog some of her images soon, as I’ve had many requests for further images with this little camera since my review a few weeks ago.

Vietnam is a country featuring a multitude of very different landscapes and ways of living, making it a photographer’s dream in terms of capturing varied images within one trip. However each area had its own set of challenges when it came to shooting. We started our trip in the capital, Hanoi. It is the definition of ‘hustle and bustle’, with street sellers galore, and more scooters than you can imagine. Interesting photo opportunities are in abundance but the difficulty then lies in finding a ‘clean’ shot, some early morning starts were definitely required here! Conversely, the idyllic hill town of Bac Ha, which we reached via an interesting overnight train has a more simple way of life – buffalo’s are used to plough the fields, and double up as commuter vehicles for the kids! Here, we were challenged by the weather as thick mist often covered the beautiful landscape. However the times when it lifted slightly added an extra layer of ‘rustic charm’ to the images captured. From here we hopped on a junk around the karst islands of Halong Bay, seeing some spectacular landscapes, before flying to the more commercialised Hoi An, which still manages to retains its charm and was one of our favourite places. A quick stop over in the westernised and modern Ho Chi Minh (formally Saigon), before a rain filled visit to the waterways and floating markets of the Mekong Delta. Finally we chilled out on the beaches around the stunning island of Phu Quoc – enjoying warm waters, sun and a few beers!

 From the bustling cities, to the colourful hill tribes, we enjoyed; green tea with builders, crazy scooter rides, lost wedding rings (mine!), flying fish, pigs on bus roofs, frogs legs, beautiful sunrises and lots more. We visited as much of Vietnam as possible and had an amazing time. We met lots of lovely locals and equally lovely fellow travellers,  I can highly recommend a visit to this happy, colourful, friendly, interesting and lively place!

The common thread throughout the trip was the interaction between the locals, strong family bonds and close knit communities, working and socialising together. As I take a similar approach to my travel photography as that for my wedding photography, focussing on the people and telling a story with my images was my photographic aim. I took a fair few shots during the trip, and have narrowed it down to my favourite 50 that represent the country and its people…

Bac Ha Market bac ha market Hoi An Fisherman

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Travel photography in Vietnam0049  Travel photography in Vietnam0043 Travel photography in Vietnam0042  hill tribe vietnam

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Travel photography in Vietnam0036 street workers hanoi gym Hanoi

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Hanoi street photography

floating market mekong river market mekong landscape vietnam

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market seller

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builders vietnam smoking vietnam Travel photography in Vietnam0026  mekong delta Hill tribe Bac ha Travel photography in Vietnam

fishing Vietnam B&W vietnam Market bac ha Street photos Hoi An Old man Hoi An Fish vietnam Hanoi street seller Travel photography in Vietnam0016

market seller

street photography xpro1 street photography xpro1  Portrait Vietnam Portrait Vietnam Travel photography in Vietnam Boats vietnam Bac Ha street photography Travel photography Vietnam   Hanoi Cyclo

73 thoughts on “Travel Photography in Vietnam”

  1. You got some exceptional images here Adam. Too many to mention but a couple that stand out for me are the guy looking out of the barge window, the girls in the handcart and the farmer walking along with the jungle as a backdrop. Loos like the Fuji worked really well, nice and sharp and great colour.

  2. Absolutely stunning collection of images Adam. The tones and colours are beautiful, especially love them in the fishing shots. The portrait of the old chap at the sewing machine is great.

  3. I’ve been looking forward to seeing these Adam and I’m honestly blown away. So many stunning shots of Vietnam and its people. Hard to choose favourites but the shots of the man walking with the jungle backdrop and the sewing machine are powerful. And the water / reeds picture is beautiful. *sigh

  4. Wowsers trousers, they are breathtaking. I love the face peeping out of the barge, the girl in the cart, the newspapers one, the man walking in the jungle. All of them basically. I could look at them over and over again!

  5. Mate, this is such a beautiful collection of images – so much life and emotion in each frame. Love the portrait of the guy holding the bird with one shoe. Fantastic photography dude.

  6. Absolutely superb selection, Adam, well done! I really enjoyed the split compositions and the variety framing devices you’ve used, truly great work.
    Did you manage to find you wedding ring?

  7. Beautiful work Adam – a real sensitivity in your shooting. The smoking old lady is a masterpiece and overall its a really strong collection. Well done mate.

  8. Beautiful images. I think you could easily include travel photography in your repertoire. I really enjoyed them. Pinned a couple as well. 🙂

  9. Fantastic shots Adam. You’re really captured the spirit of the place. What lenses did you take?
    I still can’t make up my mind if I should take the X-Pro1 & X-E1 or the X-Pro1 & X100 when I go to the Philippines next month. Maybe all three, but there’s always the chance I’ll come back without any of them!

    Anyway, very inspiring stuff from a beautiful country…it’s on my bucket list.

    Derek.

  10. Absolutely stunning shots, thank you 🙂
    I’ve really been considering getting into the Fuji X-series and had kinda settled on the x100s for the supposed better AF, but these X-Pro1 pics look really sharp with great colors! Could I ask if you had any issues with auto focus?

    1. Thanks Raz 🙂 To be honest, sometimes the XPro 1 did frustrate me with its auto focus. If I were to do the trip again, I’d be very tempted b the X100s now that its released. Although I did enjoy using the 18mm with the XPro1, and captured some wide images not possible with the X100s.

      1. I’m torn between the AF of the x100s and the great lenses available to the X-Pro1 and X-e1 (I’m looking forward to seeing what the 23mm lens can do) I suppose the what I actually want is an X-Pro2! 🙂
        Anyway, once again thanks – they really are great photos not because of the technical quality but because they’re great compositions

  11. May I ask what sort of post processing you’ve used? They don’t look like out of the camera B&W jpgs

  12. Hi Adam,

    I absolutely love this set.

    Great examples of travel photojournalism.

    I must have been in Nepal when you were in Vietnam. We should have Hi5’d each other. 🙂

    Hope to see you soon mate.

    Cheers,

    Anurag.

  13. Hi Adam,
    came here from fujirumors.com, and I really, really like these pictures!
    Keep up the good work,
    Stefan.

  14. I really enjoyed seeing these. The girls in the cart seem like an optimistic analogue to the famous “napalm girl” photo from 1972. Did you have this image in mind or did it just turn out this way? It made me smile and think about how the passage of time changes the human landscape. I might be shooting a film in VN next year, and it will take me through the country, almost always outside. How much weatherproofing should I consider and how accessible is power for recharging batteries in the countryside?

    1. Thanks Justin. I didn’t consciously make the decision for the shot to be an optimistic take on “napalm girl”, but I can see what you mean…the landscape is reminiscent of that image.

      In the northern hill areas, I did find it particularly misty, and experienced a couple of days of constant rain. Shooting digal meant I didn’t have too many problems (changing film etc)…and I just used a clear plastic bag to wrap my camera in to keep the worst of the rain off when shooting.

      Power wise, I never struggled to charge my batteries…even in the most remote areas, power seemed to be available.

      Hope this helps 🙂

      Adam

  15. Great work. I am travelling Asia from Sept – May and am looking forward to posting my blogs. Your images make me very excited for the trip. Although I was thinking about getting a compact I think I will be lugging around my 5dmk2 and a few lenses. 🙁 Can’t afford the Fuji at the mo!

  16. How ironic that I received this. I am the founder of Ride of the Brotherhood, We are Veterans mc riders and supporters, establishing an 501C3, to assist Veterans organizations, families and charities. Our first project is The RIDE. Ten Vietnam Combat Vets return to Vietnam and ride throughout North and South visiting sites where they served. Upon return we plan on a Welcome Home Celebrity Concert for all Vets but the Spot like will be on the Vietnam Vet, the Welcome Home they never received. The date for this is March 2015, 50years from the date the first combat troops landed in S. Vietnam. We are hoping to create a documentary which would high lite each of the 10 Vets talking about then and now and to show other Vets and everyone else what you have, the beauty and culture and the past is the past. This will be finance through sponsors and donations with ALL unspent funds and continue funds going to the Veterans organizations and charities. I would enjoy talking with you and sure it would be very informative. Your photos have increased the participation on making this trip. Thank you

  17. Thanks Adam, we are currently on an around the world trip and Vietnam is our next stop (we’re in Cambodia now). I’ve been researching places to shoot and really enjoyed your Vietnam portfolio.

  18. Great pictures! What a nice compositions and great moments! I hope to see the tribes myself in the mountains. I am myself traveling to Vietnam in less than two weeks. Which lenses did you use? I have myself a X-T1 and still can’t decide which lenses should I take (have 18-55, 35 and 55-200)… Maybe it is better to buy sth wider? Would be grateful for every help 🙂 Cheers

    1. Hi Agata. I shot with the 35mm (nearly 50 equiv) and 17mm lenses on my xpro1. Found them great to use 🙂 You should be ok with the width of the 18mm….I tend to get close to my subjects, so don’t use anything more than the 35mm lens. Travel light is my best tip!

      1. Thanks a lot! 🙂 I will stick to my 18-55 and maybe support with 35. Light is the reason why i decided to take X-T1 with 18-55 and not D300s with 24-70 😉

  19. awesome images…great pics with wonderful tones and composition…came across your page looking for another photographer I met when I lived in Saigon..just moved to Ha Noi from Australia..great to be back in this fantastic country,I love seeing other Photographers work and yours are great man..well done !

  20. I only just discovered your blog and website and I’m admiring your superb images Adam. And I got the surprise of my life when I saw your photograph of the old gentleman standing in the entrance next to the yellow wall which, I am guessing, is in Hoi An – because that’s where I photographed the same old gentleman, standing by a tree at the riverside in the old town, dressed in his traditional loose white clothing, watching the world go by. If you have the time, please check out my Vietnam blog here: http://digital-trekker.blogspot.com.au

    It’s still a work in progress. I shall be following your website regularly from now on. Your images speak volumes about this beautiful, amazing country.

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for the kind words! It is an amazing country indeed, I’ve checked out your blog too – really great images of Vietnam too 🙂

  21. I’m planning a visit to Vietnam and tend to prefer dramatic scenery shots bit this is a really nice collection of portraits, vignettes and cameos. What a great collection to have. The Fuji does a good job. I use a Canon G12 and do post-processing but you have really captured the feel of the place. This will influence my shots. Well done.

  22. Adam, I happened on your site while searching for “Photography in Vietnam”. Thank you for sharing your work. Today is August 9, 2015 and I am currently in Siem Reap Cambodia. In 3 days I will arrive in Saigon (Ho Chi Min City) for the first time. Thank you for the sampling of what’s to come, I really like your style.

  23. Adam this work is an inspiration! Last couple of years I’ve curtailed my creative holiday photography as I’ve thought the idea of dragging my D4 around like a ball and chain around my ankle. I should really get on this again… Any thoughts on compacts/mirrorless options that are new for 2015? Many thanks.

  24. Very nice pictures! I just googled for travel photography in Vietnam and came across your post.

    My plan is to take my X-T1 with 18 & 35mm with me – so nearly the same setup as you did. Now I’m really looking forward it 🙂

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