|"Making incense" wins the Travel Photo category, Smithsonian Annual Photo Contest
In 2017, 34-year-old Tran Tuan Viet stunned photography circles when his photo "Making incense" appeared in a "Visions of Earth" piece in NatGeo. A year later, this photo won first prize in the travel category of Smithsonian magazine's photo contest. Viet has had 20 of his photos chosen by NatGeo as Photo of the Day.
"It wasn't until 2007 that I really had a chance to use a Canon digital camera. I was completely impressed by its quality as the pictures were all very nice. After that, I decided to buy my first camera and study the basics of photography. What are composition, moment, aperture, light sensitivity, and so on. So many factors are involved in creating beautiful photos. I learned from materials on the Internet and from friends and the photography communities of that time," he said.
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Born into a family of civil servants, Viet graduated university in 2005 with an architecture degree that he had dreamed of since childhood. But he made his living by designing software. Viet considered photography a personal passion and did not expect that his "side job" would bring him success and popularity.
"I worked in architecture for only two years and found it had become unsuitable for me. I started to delve into IT and then gained access to a digital camera. When I was in secondary school, I used a camera and expensive rolls of film to take pictures of my friends. But I didn't think of taking artistic pictures.”
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It took Viet more than seven years (from 2007 to 2015) to shape his personal style. He tried many types of images: portraits, landscapes, and documentary. Then, in 2015, he decided to stick with photo storytelling. 2015 was also the year he learned about NatGeo and joined its Your Shot photo community.
"After the Your Shot community closed in 2019 to switch to Instagram platform, NatGeo asked me to collaborate with them. I was the only Vietnamese out of 40 selected photographers. I thought anything to do with Vietnam might make a good photo. My country has beautiful scenery and is rich in traditions and culture, which can be told to foreign friends. What concerned me most was choosing the right seductive topic," Viet said.
Tran Tuan Viet has won more than 250 domestic and international awards. 200 of his photos have appeared in NatGeo magazine. In 2019 he contributed more than 1,000 photos to the "Wonders of Vietnam" project initiated by Google and the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism to support countries affected by Covid-19 and introduce Vietnam’s heritages to the world.
|Photographer Tran Tuan Viet
Viet says he has to put in a lot of effort to turn out a satisfactory picture. For example, to capture a moment of six workers fixing screws on an electric line, he had to go back and forth between Hanoi and Bac Ninh six times. The result was impressive. As photographer Do Huu Tuan put it: "I admire Mr. Viet very much. The photos that he took of the power lines are second to none. Many photographers have explored this topic, but looking at Viet’s photos, they can’t imagine how he created such amazing photos. As a photographer, I’m always captivated by Viet’s pictures.”
|"Balanced" photographs workers fixing screws on high voltage lines in April 2017.
|"Colorful Work" is a finalist in the Travel Photo Category, Smithsonian Annual Photo Contest 2020.
In 2022, Tran Tuan Viet promoted the image of Vietnam through a 30-minute TV episode called Dare To Ride, which aired on the world-famous Discovery channel. He played the role of a tour guide bringing three foreign friends to explore the landmarks and cuisines of Hanoi and met challenges set by the film crew.
Viet said he wants to continue photographing all the scenic spots of Vietnam, a project which was interrupted by the pandemic. "There are many beautiful scenes not known to the public. I made it my personal mission to go there, take pictures, and introduce them to everyone," he said.