A Fixed Focus

People coming together to share information, experience, and knowledge in all aspects of photography

For Chien, the Vice President of the Senior Photography Club, photography is a life-long pursuit. As a teenager he tried to pursue it as a career but harsh conditions during the American War and family obligations forced him to abandon it for a more financially stable job. Now in his golden years and retired, with resources and family support, he’s able to reignite his first love.

The HCMC Senior Photography Club is a special chapter of the Ho Chi Minh Photography Association (HOPA, www.hopa.vn) with more than 30 senior and experienced photographers as permanent members. Founded by Trinh Dinh Thu in 1999 as a platform for retired professional photographers and aspiring ones to gather and share experiences, the club has grown strongly in terms of prestige and recognition thanks to the club’s participation in major national and regional photography competitions.

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Some of the members are renowned war photojournalists such as Trinh Dinh Thu, Doan Cong Tinh, Vu Ba, and Trieu Hung, along with other members who have held high ranks in the government. Membership is granted to those who meet a few simple requirements. One should be 60 years of age or above, although the age limit has been lowered somewhat to allow for those serious about photography. Another condition is that all potential members should have some knowledge or experience on the topic. At the moment, the club comprises of only Vietnamese men but also welcomes female and expats as more perspectives about photography can then be shared.

With Age Comes Patience
I met Chien one morning at HOPA’s office where the club was having its annual photo exhibition in conjunction with their Hanoi branch. Passing by each photo, he proudly and passionately explains the meaning and angle behind each shot. When asked if he saw any differences in style and shooting techniques between the young and the old, he replies: “The differences surely exist, yet sometimes are not so obvious as the old folks with compounding life experiences bring calmer and more philosophical perspectives into their photos. And we are more patient too.

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“Like a fisherman calmly and patiently waiting for his fish, senior photographers can spend days at a scene just to get a right shoot with the right light and structure. I am really amazed at the photos the club members produce, not only by the sheer beauty, but more so by the emotions which is clearly the heart and soul of all the photos,” adds Chien.

The club holds its monthly meetings on the 19th where photos of the month are brought in for member critique. Chien says he’s happy to mentor and pass down any knowledge he has to those who share his same passion. Email him at [email protected].

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