Upon arriving in Vietnam, one of the most useful ways to get a pulse on the Vietnamese city culture was through Instagram. One of the most stand out Instagram accounts that I came across was the work of photographer Dy Duyen. Featuring mostly lifestyle shots of well-known Vietnamese personalities that have come to define the “new” Vietnamese woman, we speak with Duyen about her work and get a quick peek into her lifestyle in Ho Chi Minh City.
What is your photography style?
Follow my emotion and let the camera work in a natural way. I don’t like posing and I try not to objectify. Shoot as if I’m hanging out with them. Don’t change their normal style. Though it also depends on what I want to do.
One of my projects, the “One Person Show” involves interaction with the person on set. I’ve been working with two close friends on this project, Nancy and Honey. Nancy is more soft and zen. Honey is strong and more serious. Even with different personalities, the key is to keep it natural…they do makeup and any prep work beforehand themselves.
How did you start with photography?
I learned photography on my own. After finishing university, where I studied graphic design at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Architecture, I dedicated my main focus to photography. It’s been eight years now.
What’s your photography shooting style?
I prefer natural light. I’ll use studio light if it’s for a magazine photoshoot. I always scout the location first. I always shoot by myself.
What motivates you to continue photography?
The feeling that it gives me. And the ability to express emotion through photography, it helps brings my work to another world. I love sharing my work.
Where do you find most of your business and clients?
I’ll meet most of my clients through my website, though these days it’s mostly through my Instagram. And most of the time it’s directly from the client, not a studio.
Who are your favorite photographers?
I’ve been closely following two photographers. A photographer from Korea, ralachoi, who uses a film camera that produces shots like a painting. And another from Taiwan, 3cm_lin.
What’s your favorite place to spend the afternoon in Ho Chi Minh City?
I love bookstores. There’s the Book Street on Nguyen Van Binh near the Notre Dame Cathedral in District 1. It’s a street just for books. There’s also Nhà Sách Cá Chép on 211-213 Vo Van Tan, District 3.
What’s in your camera bag?
A Canon 5D Mark II with a Sigma 35mm Lens. If the shoot is idea-based, like the One Person Show project, I’ll bring along some props with me.
Have you ever considered living abroad?
I’d never live abroad, but I’d consider studying abroad for one or two years.
Do you trust others to take a photo of yourself?
Honestly no one! I’m too shy in front of the camera.
Who should we speak with next?
I met Hai Minh after taking a shoot for ELLE. A Vietnamese-French woman, she heads up a brand called Leinné that specializes in hats and accessories made of straw materials.