Photographing Hanoi for Tiger Airways

If you don’t live in Hanoi then maybe you’d be forgiven for not knowing that the capital is about to celebrate its 1,000th anniversary on October 10th. 10-10-10. Which in somebody’s math equals 1,000 (edit: Oops, ten times ten times ten does equal 1,000). And I’ve heard it’s an auspicious day even outside of Hanoi (evidence). So anyway there’s quite a lot of hubbub going on about that. Hoan Kiem Lake has a giant stopwatch. Stages are being built everywhere. Construction works are supposed to be completed by the special day. Roads cleaned up. Markets apparently moved, if my local one-stop shopping complex is anything to go by (it’s just gone). There’s this kind of mild, underlying panic on the streets. It’s strange. I’d like to be here but I’ll be away in New York. I’m not sure if the festivities will go off with a bang or with a whimper. But either way it will be interesting to see.

In lieu of this anniversary, I was sent out onto the streets of Hanoi by Tiger Airways’ inflight magazine, Tiger Tales, to photograph the emerging youth culture in contrast with the ancient streets of the capital (see spreads above). So I tramped around for two days taking pictures and sweating my ass off and meeting all kinds of amazing people. Skateboarders, break-dancers, hip-hop crews, designers, stylists, boutique owners, restaurateurs and more. Though Bobby Chinn was out of town so I missed another opportunity to take his portrait. Which is his loss. Overall it was a great few days of shooting and I think the final spread looks amazing. The writing (his Twitter) and layout make my images look way better than they normally would. So thanks, guys. I owe you one.

13 thoughts on “Photographing Hanoi for Tiger Airways

  1. Great photos!
    I’m actually going to be in Hanoi during the celebrations 01.10-10.10. Reading this makes me even more excited =)

  2. Connla, no idea when the issue will go “live” online. I got an email saying the mag was on all flights starting about a week ago.

    Everyone else, thanks for the nice words; it was a fun assignment.

  3. Youth culture and the new international tendencies of the capital. I should have mentioned that. Bobby Chinn exudes those international qualities in spades. Obviously.

  4. TNB — the assignment was a profile of Hanoi on its anniversary. The “yoof” make up a big part of Hanoi right now so they featured heavily, along with the clash of heritage preservation and urban development, the cuisine, the nightlife, how quickly Hanoi is changing, and a chunk more.

    The editors requested tuppence-worth-quotes from “celebrities + trendsetters”.

    Which is where Mr Chinn came in — as a long term expat/ observer.

  5. Thanks guys. That cleared it up a lot for me.
    By comparison, it also seems the Vina Press doesn’t want to bucks the old revolutionary crowd too much with all the heavy generational stuffs, so it mainly sticks to the tried and true gimmick of: “Vietnam’s youth studiously follow Uncle Ho’s exemplary morals”. That kind of editorializing can seriously warp it all out of focus for someone who’s watching all things Vietnam from afar like myself.

  6. Something else I just remembered.
    The cover shot may have provided aptly fitting contrast of ‘old vs new’ for your theme requirements. But I think it could’ve been much more profoundly glaring, at least for the Vietnamese, if the photo editor hadn’t blurred out all the graffiti in the finished piece.
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it the little tower by the shore of Hoan Kiem Lake, where that photo was taken? If so, then that’s the Hoa Phong tower, which used to part of a nearby temple complex called Bao An. Sadly, the French had the temple torn down when they built the Hanoi Post Office-never mind that it was at least a couple hundred years old by then. The even older Bao Thien temple nearby received the same treatment when they built the St. Joseph Cathedral.
    Anyhow, to make a long story short: when the Catholics in Hanoi had their lands protests a couple years back; the Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha conveniently piped up-something to the effects of-“hey what’s all the fuss about? That used to our lands too”. To which, the municipal government-and by politically expeditious extension, the state-in a rare display of Vina Socialist efficiency, turned the disputed property into a nice little public library/park almost overnight. Alls well that ends well, I think.

    Here’s a very old b&w pic of the tower I mentioned.
    tháp Hòa Phong của chùa Báo Ân xưa

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