Rehahn is a French photographer that first started out in 2007. He moved to Hội An, a city in Vietnam in 2011 and opened a restaurant there. His passion for photography took flight and encouraged by his friends and fans, his art and popularity started a crescendo line. It all culminated with the publishing of his book in 2014 Vietnam: A mosaic a contrasts.
Vietnam has over 50 ethnic groups. They are diverse, colourful and the source of inspiration for Rehahn, along with the ethnicity photographer Manny Librodo. Rehan has photographed about a dozen ethnic groups and still has his work cut out for him.
The book Vietnam: A mosaic of contrasts resulted from a 8 year trip around Vietnam on a motorbike that summed up in numbers looks like this: 40 villages of minorities visited, 2.190 km travelled, more than 40.000 photographs taken, less than 10 tourists met in the area. Rehahn encountered members of the Black Lolo, Hmong, Tay and Nung minorities in his journey.
When we asked the artist what is his plan now that Mosaic of Contrasts is finished, his answer spiked our curiosity even more:
"I've just finished 2 new books. One about Rajasthan where I spent amazing days with Sadhus and one named: Children of Vietnam. These 2 books will come out on October at the same period. At the same time, I'm preparing many exhibitions before the end of the year (Paris - HCM - Hanoi - Sapa)"
The exhibitions need to be on your look-out list, since the French photographer has a sweet spot for portraits. He states that these are not an easy subject. Children offer a great number of possibilities with smiles, frowns, surprised looks and innocence. In the same interview, Rehahn shared the fact that the elderly from Vietnam have “very defined faces. Their life is mostly written on their faces through the wrinkles” and also that they are “more difficult to photograph because it takes time and to avoid being invasive of their intimacy.”
One must take into account the difficulties taking a portrait entails: making the subject of the portrait approve, gaining the person’s trust so that it looks more natural and choosing the best photographs through which that person’s emotions transpire. Rehahn shared with us his take on photography:
"Buying an expensive camera will not make one a photographer. To be a photographer, you must FEEL and CREATE like an artist. Landscape, portraits or street photography, you must give a message to someone else. To me, the most important is to be free! I refuse to do something if I don't feel it. For that, the best is to keep photography as hobby!"
Rehahn also shared that a way of getting villagers to trust him is by showing them the photographs and using humour. The children usually interact first with the photographer and then the parents and the elders. Take your time to scroll because an effusion of emotions, colors and expressions await you.
"My goal is to meet the 54 different minorities of Vietnam and to discover an unknown spot in this country."
Have you, our readers ever taken a photograph of a stranger after trying to persuade them, gain their trust and make them feel comfortable? Would you?
In two weeks’ time we will publish an article about another eminent portrait taker. Before that, we are launching a challenge to you, our readers. Take a picture of a stranger and write a paragraph or two about how you convinced them to let you take their picture. Don’t use your friends. The facial expression will give them away. Plus it wouldn’t be much of a challenge then would it? The best photo+story wins a book by Rehahn. And also we will publish all of your contest entries.