Photographers find Vietnam a land of bewitching smiles

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No need to exhort their subjects to “say cheese,” visiting photographers find

Smiling foursome: Buffalo boys smile when posing for Nick Gray in northern countryside.

They are all disarmed by the phenomenon, but like a painting, each person appreciates and interprets them differently.

For 37-year-old Australian Peter Stuckings, Vietnamese smiles are a greeting. They say “Hello”.

Stuckings said he understands that the people really want to say hello, but they are shy, so they smile instead.

The greeting is very sincere, inviting us to talk or just expressing their happiness at having foreigners here as guests, he said.

The photographer of Conde Nast, Travel+Leisure, the UK-based Insight Guides and Discovery of Hong Kong said he has seen such friendly smiles only in Vietnam.

Stuckings has a photo of a woman sewing her fishing net in Phu Quoc Island of the Mekong Delta coast. He said her charming smile was typical of the greeting he receives everywhere he goes to in Vietnam.

Many of his friends who have visited Vietnam also call the country “the land of smiles,” he said.

A woman smiles as she sews a fishing net on Phu Quoc Island. Photo by Peter Stuckings.

Nick Gray, who has a photo of four boys on buffaloes in the countryside of northern Vietnam, said he meets smiles on every street of Vietnam.

“I always remember the children waving for a long time, and the friendliness that we feel when they smile,” said the 29-year-old British photographer who has been living in Hanoi for seven years and speaks Vietnamese fluently.

He takes interior design photographs for magazines and calendars but would roam the northern nature when having spare time.


Fred Wissink of Canada is especially impressed by the smiles of old people in Vietnam.

Their smiles are fresh and cheerful as though the country has never experienced any war, Wissink said.

He remembers an old woman in Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City, smiling as she watched him on a fashion photo shoot, and he turned and captured that smile with is camera.

Reporter Nicolas Cornet focuses on smiles that happen as daily life unfolds in Ho Chi Minh City’s alleys.

“People meet each other in alleys, eat in the alleys, talk in the alleys and children play in the alleys,” Cornet said.

The bystander: Fred Wissink photographed this woman as she smiled while watching him on a fashion shoot.

The 46-year-old, who first came to Vietnam 23 years ago, said everyone in the alleys would smile when he raised his camera for a shot.

“I like the bright smiles of all characters in my photos. It seems as though they consider life’s difficulties temporary.”

Pieter Janssen of the Netherlands, who has lived in Hanoi for many years and has a Vietnamese wife, captured with his camera the smile of Pham Xuan Duc, a 12-year-old boy at Hanoi-based Hoa Binh Village for child victims of Agent Orange. Janssen was stunned that the boy was “smiling like an angel” despite the pain he underwent during each phase of treatment.

The photograph, set against a painting of many hands, says: “Hello world, we are here and we need your help,” Janssen said.

Source: Tuoi Tre

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