They are realistic images, not painted or enchanted through advanced techniques and are mainly press photos. During last year and early this year, Vietnamese photojournalism has witnessed remarkable developments with many photographers’ throwing themselves into the danger zone.
Rushing to COVID-19 hot spots
The COVID-19 pandemic was the hottest event in 2020 and continued to spread widely in the first six months of 2021, when a more contagious variant of this virus created new outbreaks in many countries around the world, including Vietnam.
Photojournalists rushed to the hot spots and took all the risks as they arrived on the scene. Although wearing protective gear, gloves and masks, not everyone was equipped with the necessary skills to avoid the epidemic. Not to mention that the time for taking photos is also very limited, requiring photojournalists to react quickly and work quickly. Not only journalists, many photographers have also sought permission to enter hospitals and isolation areas to capture the moments of doctors taking care of patients.
The commitment of the photographers has created a colorful picture of the effective fight against COVID-19 in the country with five stages corresponding to action in accordance with the principles of epidemic prevention and control including early detection, tracing, isolation, blockade, and treatment.
In 2020, a photo exhibition entitled “Vietnam’s COVID-19 prevention and control through the photographic lense” was held to honour positive images of all social classes joining hands in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. It affirmed the initial great results as Vietnam had basically repelled the epidemic last year, an outcome which resounded around in the world.
In 2021, a photo exhibition named “Pride in the frontier strip”, co-organised by the Party Central Committee (PCC)’s Commission for Communications and Education and Vietnam Photographers’ Association in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, has also created widespread social effects. The set of photos themed “Border checkpoints to prevent and control Covid-19 epidemic” captured images of soldiers from the Axan Border Guard Station in Tay Giang district in the central province of Quang Nam overcoming all difficulties to control the border area and help local people prevent and control the epidemic. The photos reflected the close solidarity between the army and people.
The photo reportage “The entire political system and people join hands in the fight against COVID-19” by photojournalists Tri Dung, Thong Nhat, Duong Giang, Minh Quyet and Doan Tuan from the Vietnam News Agency won the A prize at the 2021 National Press Awards on Party building called “Bua liem vang” (Golden Hammer & Sickle),
A photo marathon on the programme “Vietnam’s beauty” on Nhan Dan Television with the theme of the COVID-19 pandemic received enthusiastic responses from many photographers around the country. Interestingly, in addition to professional photojournalists and artists, amateur photographers captured many impressive moments. The set of photos “In the quarantine area” by doctor Dang Van Tu from Bac Mai Hospital was an example. During the time he was isolated in the hospital, Tu used a mobile phone to record particularly impressive moments, from the faces of doctors and nurses looking out from the windows, to patients with disabilities sitting on wheelchairs, full of hope. It won the contest "The rhythm of life during COVID-19 epidemic” , part of the programme “Vietnam’s beauty” in April 2020. The photo “Life sprouts during the COVID pandemic” by Pham Thi Phuong Thao from the Vietnam National Union of Health Workers won second prize at the contest “The beauty of trade unions and workers” held by the Labour and Trade Union Magazine in 2021. It was a press photo with an impressive lay-out, recording the happy moment a mother gave birth while doctors and nurses with protective gear surrounded her.
Power of photo series
In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were many high-quality press photos capturing moments depicting great damage to humans and property due to the heavy storms and floods in the central region last year. Photojournalists continued to be present despite the danger. Many photos were taken amidst the rains, wind and storms; meanwhile, many others recorded the prompt aid of food and medicines from donors as well as the support of border guards in rebuilding locals’ houses and quickly repair damaged and flooded infrastructures, schools and hospitals. Photo reports on the case of the 11 workers missing at the Rao Trang 3 hydropower plant in Thua Thien – Hue province, with many touching images, were published in different newspapers.
Of course, there were many other events and issues boldly and impressively reflected through press photos. However, only two events can be chosen to express the power of the images.
The reality showed that the main direction of Vietnam’s photojournalism is also consistent with world trends. The quality of press photos in the country is becoming more and more professional. Photojournalists are equipped with modern and advanced cameras. In addition, the eyes and ability to process of young photographers are different from previous generations.
In both 2020 and the first half of 2021, press photos have continued to reflect the events and memorable moments of life, painting a vibrant picture of the political and socio-economic situation in the country.
The photo photo “Life sprouts during the COVID pandemic” by Pham Thi Phuong Thao from the Vietnam National Union of Health Workers.