martedì 3 luglio 2012


Documentary photo story by Aaron Joel Santos

Aaron Joel Santos is a freelance travel and documentary photographer based in Hanoi, Vietnam. He is represented by Wonderful Machine in the United States and by Invision Images in Europe and Japan. His clients include The Wall Street Journal, Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, The Daily Telegraph and The Boston Globe. He is available for assignments across Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

clip_image001 Photo © Aaron Joel Santos-All Rights Reserved

Most of Aaron's galleries are of projects in South East Asia, and include documentary travel, as well as commercial work such as photographs of hotels and resorts. I particularly liked his Ha Giang black & white gallery. Ha Giang is a province is in the northernmost part of the country, and it shares a long border with China's Yunnan province. It has many cultural festivals due to the presence of more than 20 ethnic minority groups.
Aaron also uses PhotoShelter to host his image archives, and you can see his collection of images of Laos, from the World Heritage town of Luang Prabang to the waters of Vang Vien and the capital of Vientiane.

Long Bien Bridge

Vietnam’s capital is at a critical junction, balanced precariously between its past and present, trying to maintain a certain sense of culture and identity while integrating further into the global economy. Rice fields and farmlands are being overtaken by new highways, skyscrapers and industrial areas. The lakes and rivers for which the city was once known are drying up and suffering from increased levels of pollution. And urban farmers who have relied on their families’ lands for generations are being slowly edged off their fields in the name of progress.

A farmer burns off crop residue to prepare for the upcoming harvest in Hanoi, Vietnam.
A farmer burns off crop residue to prepare for the upcoming harvest.

Long Bien Farmer: Hanoi, Vietnam
Farmer Nguyen Van Duoc stops for a cigarette on his field beneath Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi, Vietnam. Each harvest he grows over 200 pounds of soybeans to sell to tofu makers in the city, making less than US$60 a month to support his wife and four children.

A young migrant worker walks past a new construction project in the southern suburbs of Hanoi, Vietnam. What were once abundant rice fields on the outskirts of the capital are now being paved over and converted to new urban and industrial areas.

A portrait of Anh Tuan near his home on the banks of the Red River in Hanoi, Vietnam. Tuan recently spent time in jail and is having a hard time getting his life back in order, as many businesses are weary of hiring an ex-convict.

As Hanoi moves forward to celebrate its 1,000th anniversary this year, the changes taking place are more relevant than ever. This once-sleepy city on the banks of the Red River is now a growing metropolis with millions of people living within its borders. The urban farmers, migrant workers and local inhabitants portrayed here comprise only a small part of the population. But they are an important part nonetheless. There is a history worn on their faces. Theirs is a way of life struggling to survive. This is Hanoi’s new urban landscape, at once steeped in its own history and battling its inevitable surge into modernity.

Pollution in Hanoi, Vietnam
Pollution beneath Long Bien Bridge on the farmlands near the Red River.

An elder man plants pumpkin seeds on his farmlands in the center of Hanoi, Vietnam.

An older woman rides her bicycle past a new housing development in the suburbs of Hanoi.

A view of downtown Hanoi from the farmlands beneath Long Bien Bridge.

Lone Woman Walking: Hanoi, Vietnam
A young fisherman casts a line from a makeshift pier on West Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam. West Lake is one of the capital

A portrait of Pham Thi Thu, 53, outside of her makeshift home on the banks of the Red River.

Vietnamese Woman in Hanoi, Vietnam
An elderly Vietnamese woman, Nguyen Thi Quen, poses for a portrait on her way to the temple in her village outside of Hanoi, Vietnam
Woman Farmer: Hanoi, Vietnam
Farmer Nguyen Thi Hoa works her land beneath Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi, Vietnam. As pollution worsens on the land and in the nearby Red River, local farmers are finding it harder and harder to work the once-fertile fields.

Farmers pull roots from their fields on the banks of the Red River. These particular roots are used in traditional medicines and are sold to herbalists at markets in the capital’s center.

Aerial North Vietnam
An aerial view of northern Vietnam, around the capital of Hanoi, with towns and rice fields spread out across the landscape.

A young migrant worker pours tar into a burgeoning construction site as another young man sweeps dust from the walkway on the southern outskirts of Hanoi. Construction sites such as these, all staffed by young migrant workers from the countryside, are taking over the once rural lands of the outer-capital.

Long Bien Farmer: Hanoi, Vietnam
Farmer Nguyen Van Duoc pauses to look out over his farmlands in Hanoi, Vietnam.

A man walks along Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi, Vietnam, with the Red River and a small island of farmlands and house boats spreading out to the horizon. Because of a prolonged dry season, the river is at its lowest level in over a century.

All photos © Aaron Joel Santos
> Gaia

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