|General Vo Nguyen Giap has a special place in the heart of photographer Tran Hong. (Photo: VNA)
A small room on the second floor at 3 Duong Thanh street, Hanoi, is where Tran Hong keeps his photos of General Giap, each carefully annotated and preserved.
After graduating in 1973 from the Central School of Propagandizing and Training (now the Academy of Journalism and Communications), Tran Hong became a journalist for the People’s Army newspaper. In that same year, he met and photographed General Giap for the very first time.
Later, in the early 1990s, Hong went to General Giap’s house to ask for permission to take photos of him. The General’s secretary asked him to show his permission paper, but he didn’t have any. As he was about to leave, General Giap spotted him and invited him in. The General granted Hong an extraordinary favor: he told Hong he could take his photo anytime he wished.
“I like taking portraits. I’m extremely fortunate to have been given the special favor of taking photos of the General. I think it was seeing my great passion that made him grant me that favor,” Hong recalled.
|A photo of General Vo Nguyen Giap and his wife having a meal taken by Colonel Tran Hong in 1994. (Source: VNA)
General Vo Nguyen Giap provided an endless source of material for Hong’s photography career, according to Colonel Hong.
“I spent a lot of time observing General Giap to catch his best moments. I wanted to show him, the legendary General, in a simple and intimate way. Though a great man, Vo Nguyen Giap led a simple life and was close to people. He was always ready to hear the opinions and ideas of people from different social strata. I wanted to depict that general, that personality, in my photos,” said Hong.
Hong said in his eyes, General Vo Nguyen Giap was a perfect man, with a great talent and an admirable personality.
“It was very difficult to take photos of General Giap because he was so great, talented, and famous. One thing is for sure, though: he came across as a friendly, warm-hearted person in every photo. I have a lot of memories of General Giap, who I admire and respect tremendously. He said that pictures should always respect and reflect the truth,” said Hong.
|General Vo Nguyen Giap and his family celebrate the Mid Autumn Festival in 2008. (Photo: vietnamnet.vn)
Tran Hong has had 12 photo exhibitions, 8 of them about General Vo Nguyen Giap. He says he is planning more exhibitions to share photos of the legendary General with more Vietnamese people and foreign friends.