Exploring Agent Orange

Agent Orange Orphan #1

Agent Orange Orphan #2

Agent Orange Orphan #3

Agent Orange Orphan #4

Radio Friendly Unit Shifter

Covering Agent Orange is a strange thing. It’s been done by some great photographers here in Hanoi and elsewhere and so it already feels like well-trodden ground. And emotions come easy with this kind of work. So what else is there to say that hasn’t been said already? Are there new angles on the subject? New stories? Of course. If we stopped covering what other people had already covered in some form or another, we’d be left with strikingly little, if with anything at all. There would be no new kitten calendars, for instance.

I’ve spent two days this week at the Friendship Village, an orphanage and care center for Agent Orange victims just outside of Hanoi in northern Vietnam, talking to caregivers and volunteers and learning about the day to day lives of many of the village’s children. This month is Agent Orange month and I felt it would be irresponsible on my part to not take the opportunity to learn more about the subject, which has haunted upwards of three generations of Vietnamese for over three decades now. I’m there now taking preliminary shots and getting to know the children and workers. I’ve sat down already and spoken with the village director, and I plan to go back this morning for a bit to hopefully meet a few of the resident doctors.

The photographs above are portraits of a few of the children living in the village. It’s a difficult and delicate balance there, showing the happiness and pride that many of the children exude while also depicting the loneliness and isolation that permeates much of the overall mood. There’s this duality, this constant struggle. And more than ever here with this subject matter I can already see how much a particular edit can change the face of the story. More on that with examples later.

4 thoughts on “Exploring Agent Orange

  1. Wow. This is quite beautiful and quite sad all at the same time. I’d like to hear about how this experience has affected YOU personally when you are done.

  2. As simple as the images are (esthetically) they are very touching and show a lot of emotion. You can see that they are living their lives to the fullest yet as someone not effected by the disease begin to see a lot more. It is true I am able to see both a sadness and happiness in each image.

    It is great to see that they can live out their live, have help when needed. And over all they look happy. Yet knowing the history behind why they are how they are is a bit difficult to think about. That this is all happing as a side effect to something humans have done.

    Great shots, can’t wait to see more.

  3. These photographs are beautiful and the blog you wrote is very touching. Everyone is different and something that everyone has to say has a new twist. Good for you going to the Friendship Village and meeting the people. Good for us that you are there taking photographs and writing about it. I’ve learned something new.

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