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Jamie Maxtone Graham

When Evening Comes: Night Market Portraits



The photographs in this body of work came to be out of a couple of different but complimentary impulses. The first was a simple curiosity of what the Long Bien night market in Hanoi, Vietnam – where I have lived since 2007 – actually looked like at night. I have often been past the market during the day when it is closed and very little, if anything, is ever happening. It is, in fact, asleep. I found it is an entirely different place after night falls.

The second, more personal, challenge for myself was to make photographs in a different mode – both technically and aesthetically – and to engage the subjects, the people who work and even live in the night market, in a manner that required collaboration and ultimately a trust. I wanted to bring some of the aesthetic of the studio into the street and to do this at night in this venue – a rough wholesale fruit and vegetable market in a tough section of the city near the Red River – seemed both absurd and entirely logical. I like that kind of friction.

On a separate note, there are a couple of other ideas at work here for me. In the West, ‘Vietnam’ continually connotes a war long over and other socio-political issues which often seem to sublimate the very “everydayness” of the place. With as little prejudice as I am capable of, in this series I wanted to just look and be looked back at by people with no more overt agenda than just that.  These people photographed and I developed some relationship both in the moment we made the image and in the weeks I regularly returned, always with their portrait as a gift. I also had in mind to embrace some tone of a 19th or early 20th colonial portraitist (in Indochina they were typically French and I admire a lot of that work) and so I tried to adopt a somewhat neutral distance and attitude with the camera while looking for something that expressed the nuance of this time, these people, this place.



I have been a cinematographer working originally in New York and then in Los Angeles on feature films, commercials and episodic television but also with strong exposure to documentary and independent films as well. I began coming to Vietnam in 1990 to shoot a documentary and have returned many times in the two decades since on other non-fiction and narrative films and for personal work too.

In 2007-08 I became a Fulbright Research Fellow after receiving a grant funding my proposal to photograph contemporary youth culture in Vietnam. My wife, our young daughter and I continue to live in Hanoi and I have made several other portfolios of photographs in that time (When Evening Comes is the most recent) while pursuing commercial and narrative film work in the region. A selection of this body of work exhibited at The Bui Gallery in Hanoi in February and March, 2010.


60 thoughts on “jamie maxtone graham – when evening comes”

  1. Great, shows your skills at communicating with people, so important on documentary.

    Nice Subtle lighting.

    Glad I read the stylistic explanation though, puts it context.



  2. Really beautiful portraits, love the lighting, really well done. I would still edit it down a bit more, but just a bit because the rest (most of) of the work is excellent. Very inspiring for me and the work I am doing. Thanks.

  3. A lot of them could be closer, for the better. The distance between you and your subjects + the slightly sceptical neutralness in many of the expressions just doesn’t work for me. I would like to see more of their characteristics and more emotions.

    For instance, Michal Chelbin’s portraits is also a lot about this “to just look and be looked back at by people”, but she does really bring out the characters. Could have something to do with her efforts in spending several hours/days with her subjects before portraying them. All in all, it might be unfair of me to make this comparsion, since your approach isn’t meant to be like hers… (but still!)

    The pictures that contradicts with the rest of my comment and pulls my overall impression up are 05, 06, 07, 08, 11, 16, 17, 18, 27.

  4. There is a cinematographic feeling in these images. I like the way you fill the frame around the subject with elements and lights of the surrounding environment, even if I think that in some of your images there is some “wasted” space above or below the subject (yeah, I’m not a fan of the vertical format)…nevertheless I appreciate the formal coherence of the series.
    I like also the way you blended flash and ambient light.

  5. I’m still making up my mind. I like them… interesting use of “studio” light at night… I do get a feeling of the place and people…but there’s something about these that bother me. I’m not quite certain what…

    …but to have a photograph bother someone is not necessarily a bad thing at all.

    I will come back and look again.

  6. some really beautiful lit portraits here. however, and this is completely a personal reaction, i felt #28 was unnecessary (as i do with most child nudes).

    i’m sure being a father to two young girls greatly influences my visceral aversion to such images and i admit that within a personal context they have merit, a la sally mann, but i don’t see that here.

  7. Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Dear all, thank you for your comments thus far and thanks to David for this remarkable venue. I am grateful to be a part of this community.
    Marc – regarding the nude of the children; I am also a father of a 6 year old girl so I submit this image with some sensitivity to the concerns associated with that. I do not feel, however, that nudity – whether of an adult or a child – is, by its very nature, wrong or to be avoided. This is obviously an area where a very long debate could take place and not be resolved. I personally think it is a beautiful and strong image and I included it because it is a very real and very normal part of life here on the streets. In a recent exhibition I had here in Hanoi, this particular photograph was removed from the walls after the opening; the censorship laws here are imposing and the cultural police ban the public display of genitals. But thank you for raising the issue here.

  8. Jamie,

    Very nice work. Technically excellent. I spent a few days in Hanoi on-route to Laos a few years back and it reminds me of the relentless poverty that I witnessed. A very beautiful and proud culture which is reflected in the countenance of many in the portraits. What time of year were most of the photos taken? Did you ask your subjects to remove their shirts or does this reflect the reality of the market on hot summer nights? I do feel a distance in these photos which you reflect upon in your statement, it leaves me feeling like I would want to know more about these people. As is they become symbolic representations of a people and less about each subject as individuals.

    Congratulations, and all the best,


  9. Beautifully rich, textured, engrossing images. 29 in the collection, usually more than I would want to see of just portraits, but I could not take my eyes off it. You can almost smell the streets. Love it.

  10. jamie

    thanks for taking the time to address my comment. like you, i also don’t feel that nudity is wrong or should be avoided…as you can see from my latest personal piece…


    and i also appreciate and recognize that you are depicting a part of life on the streets. but in this case, i found the image, although aesthetically beautiful, distracting and detracting from the overall essay; in a strange way, the image triggered my paternal, protective instinct.

    but like i said initially, your portraits are beautiful and congratulations on burn.

    with respect,


  11. Wow. I’ve been following burn for awhile now, but it’s not too often I feel compelled to leave comments. I lived in China for two years, and there was a village market right across the street from my apartment. Of course there are differences, but the similarities in these photos – the plastic tarps, the plastic sandals, the plastic chairs, the fluorescent tubes, the pool halls – brought me back so hard it was like a punch in the gut.

    Beautiful lighting and composition, nice depth of field, and an honest, unpretentious statement. Definitely one of my favorites on burn. Congrats!

  12. Jamie

    Congratulations on your publication here. Nicely done.

    There is something new here. The mix of off camera flash (with umbrella?) blended with ambient light is well done, even though it less of a technical feat in the digital age.

    I’m a fan of simple, direct, what you see is what you get portraits. These are wonderful examples of that genre. I especially love the “formal” shots, as in #6. The serious way the women present themselves to the camera, the beautiful tender gesture of the entwined hands. This is a beautiful photograph of what I assume are a mother and daughter. The love, the pain, the concern, the sadness displayed here breaks my heart.

    I love and applaud what you are doing here. Bravo.

  13. jenny lynn walker

    This is simply, honesty, unpretentiously special – one of my favourite pieces on Burn (not that I have seen them all). I love the concept, the choice of location and best of all, that Jamie is shining light on the ‘man in the street’ in a way that enlightens and informs.

    I most enjoyed the shots that are not ‘too close’ – those that give hints and clues. They keep my mind scouting and sparked my curiosity even more. “A photograph is a secret about a secret” Diane Arbus said – these photographs seem to fit that well and, have been achieved without a ‘paparazzi approach’ and that, is to be admired. Your approach has made the people and who they are even more intriguing.

    Many of the subjects do not look relaxed or comfortable with the camera on them, and I have a feeling that this is partly a reflection of Vietnamese culture and local attitudes to being photographed. If you did the same in a street market in cities in Italy for instance, there’d be less shyness and a great deal more posing. In these photographs from Hanoi, there often comes across a feeling of dignity and respect.

    Being so very static with a lightly cinematographic feel and a shallow depth of field has truly embraced the tone you were seeking and shown, in such an intelligent way, that things really HAVE moved on.

    Best wishes to you and your family! I have fond memories of Hanoi your work has sparked them in a really magical way and given me a feeling of inner peace considering the overall historical context. Thank you.

  14. jenny lynn walker

    PS But that is not to say that we should forget those who are STILL suffering from the on-going effects of what is widely known as ‘the American war’.

  15. These are very well made technically. They are simple and direct. But also, obviously posed and lifeless.
    There are no questions here.
    I know nothing about these people or the market from these, nor do they give me, the viewer, the freedom to interpret. Maybe that was the intention, or maybe its just me.


  16. Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Once again, I greatly appreciate the comments received – both positive and those less-so. I think for all of us who pick up the camera either professionally or personally, we just do the work we feel we have to do or are capable of and hopefully grow out of that. This was a project I undertook for myself creatively and technically and perhaps socially too in that I went alone into this place for months to engage with people who I came to gradually know in a language I’m not good at. Yet. This was a big experiment for me and I am not displeased with where I was taken with the process both in making the images and meeting the people who worked with me to make these portraits.
    I’m not sure I set out – to address John’s comment above – to actively inform about the people or the place or give any general overview regarding Vietnam or Hanoi or this particular market. But I think there is a lot of information there for the divining both specifically about the individuals (clothing, gesture, touch, stance) and the place (street, lighting, color, trash, walls, etc.) and generally in the representation of working class people in a large and populous developing country today. Without pointing to things specifically, I think the details are in there though, of course, this essay provides an incomplete picture.
    Frank – to answer your question – I never asked anyone to dress or undress. The people without shirts either had them off to begin with or – in at least one case that I recall – took them off for the portrait. These images were made during the summer months which can be unbearably hot here. Also, in the representation of the people as individuals or symbols – I accept that the form in some way imbues that sense of distance and archetype. But I’m not unhappy with that. I think that occurs pretty naturally once you put a frame around something anyway. It’s a difficult thing to avoid in fact.

    Technically, for those who are interested, these were all shot digitally with a Canon 5D and a 50mm 1.2 lens. I variously used a Speedlite 580 or 430 bounced into a Photek umbrella with grid cloth diffusion in front on a stand to the side and fired with an Elinchrom remote trigger graciously loaned by my friend Ehrin Macksey who I publicly thank here for his extreme generosity.

  17. Pingback: Clitter, Hamsters, Deep Purple, Night Market: Daily Dave #26 | Dave Hodgkinson Photography

  18. I don’t connect with these at the heart level. They don’t move me and I don’t feel them. (Even though I want to very much.) Something is missing here.

  19. Jamie,

    The attraction for me of these images is that they subtly hold us away from the subject. Your pictures don’t give up their stories too easily and I like that; I have to work, to imagine and I can’t be passive. I very much appreciate you technical efforts too.

  20. JAMIE,

    You have some beautiful portraits here. I like the atmosphere, the light…. Of course some portraits are stronger than others…my favorites being 1,2,5,8,9,13,23…I understand what you have intended to do with the “colonial portraitist style”…most of the portraits are obviously posed but somehow, my preferred ones are the ones in which the suject has a somewhat less “artificial” pose… separately, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of these late night markets. I have travelled in Vietnam and even spent couple of weeks in Hanoi few years ago and, back then, had a great time on these markets, eating with the locals in the evening, speaking few words of French with some of the old generation… Hanoi is quite a special city… I have remained attached to this country not only because of this great trip but also because I have been sponsoring a young girl (foster child) since she was 3 years old and she has turned 16 few months ago. I hope to be back there sometimes…

    Congrats for your work and publication.


  21. I react like some there is a lack of authorship in this work and that is now reinforced with the way the images were taken. Technically correct emotionally dead

  22. The sum of information does not make a whole, all it is is bits and pieces put together in a classic right brain pattern……… sequential analytical and looking at parts.

  23. hmmmnn it should read

    The sum of information does not make a whole, all it is is bits and pieces put together in a classic LEFT brain pattern……… sequential analytical and looking at parts.

  24. As some of the commenters above I’m also perhaps not feeling this work a 100%, but I still think it’s interesting work and that you give us a good idea of what the market is like… Number 20 with the syringe stands out for me (surprised there are no comment on that one) and makes me wonder what directions the subjects were given.

  25. If this was only horizontal…ahhh i would take all the extra info im craving and i know its there..regardless my cravings though…i like the feeling of vertical for the first time in my life..it gives that portrait medium format illusion…nice!
    now as far as the no20 photo? oh cmon its very simple…the photographer went earlier at the local drug dealer bought some heroin and a brand new syringe, went back to the market , found someone, gave him the syringe and ordered him: “shoot it while im shooting you”…laughing
    (sorry Gustav but i couldnt help it)

  26. now since we solved the no20 photo mystery lets proceed in the no28…(naked children..nudity…child molesters, perverts etc)…
    the direction here was also very simple…the photographer went to the local vietnamese fast food joint bought a plate of food and found 3 naked kids in that market : “Whoever gets dressed first gets the soup” the photographer said..
    Obviously two out of the three kids had dinner already…;)
    big hug

  27. on a serious note now..let me repeat:
    Right on Jamie…You are the only photographer so far that made me like and appreciate vertical photos..
    (man, the older i get the softer i get..:)
    big hug

  28. Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Good morning from Hanoi. Coffee….

    Imants – okay.
    Gustav – In reply to the direction-given question; only a simple general request was made. I asked all the people to look into the lens and to relax their face (that’s the short answer – but I worked a lot with the people I photographed). Every other decision I left to them. In the case of the man posing with the syringe – I was walking on the perimeter of the market where there is a great deal of IV drug use and I came across this man, Tuan Anh, trying to shoot up a guy he had just sold to. He was having trouble finding the vein so I shown a small flashlight I carried on his arm to help. When he had finished, he threw the used syringe to the ground and I asked if I might make their portrait. The client took off but Tuan Anh stayed and agreed. I think he thought that the picture I wanted was of someone shooting up so he picked up the needle he had just used and simply posed with it there against his arm. I did not try to dissuade him of this. I really like/d the fiction of it.

  29. Panos you forgot: watch me inject myself while I am looking at the camera ….just don’t ask me to smile as that is well beyond the local male multitasking abilities

  30. on a serious note once again…all those portraits are so so so close to be brilliant…everything is there..99%…but its that 1% that ruins it for me…the fact that everyone ( every-one) stares at the camera…

  31. Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Panos – Thank you for your humor and your clear eye and comments. 99% ain’t so bad. It’s interesting; in the exhibition I recently had of this work, I printed the images quite large and hung them (framed) very close together in the gallery space. The effect of that was pretty breathtaking and, certainly, a very different experience than here, seeing them sequentially and not as a collective body. One is confronted by the people (which, as a very obvious foreigner living here, I am daily) looking, staring directly and obviously. I’m sure now that the idea to have them look at me directly through the lens was some response to what I experience everyday in the streets. Thanks again.

  32. colors
    I adore 16…
    I would love to see what you would do with this as a multi media piece….

  33. Jamie,

    love it, especially the text, which for me provided a concise overview of the motivation and context for the photographs without feeling like a justification. Congratulations mate, great work which I believe will only become to appreciated more as time passes for it’s historical relevance and as a document of a time, place and people. Would have loved to see the exhibition – shame about the shot of the boys being taken down, it’s happened here in oz recently(ish) too and raised a lot of questions about what we as a society find acceptable. To be honest i’m surprised (if relived) it hasn’t prompted more negative comments, but as you say it is such a part of life there. still, I wonder if it would be a different story if it was a photo of white american kids…

    anyway many congratulations to you, been fooling around with flash a bit recently so it’s nice to see just how well it can be done.


  34. for me, more style than substance. Exercice in style would be the correct word. At no point can we really say you meant to show us vietnamese people, beyond the fact that they obviously are since the location is clearly stated. They seem more blocked, collaged almost, than introduced by your attentive and expert techniques. It would be interersting to discuss the merits of this approach, in that genre, with those of August Sanders “mapping” the german nation, prior to the conflgartion of nazism and WW2.

    To Jenny, the “american war” was not american anymore than the US war of independance (which is truly what the vietnamese were fighting for) was the “british” war.

  35. Herve..;)
    i thought that the “british war” took place in India various african colonies and lately in Argentina…
    viva Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi!!!

  36. Okay – I have returned as promised. I remain troubled by aspects of this, like the positioning of the flourescent lights, the distance in some pictures, but this is part of what makes it good.

    Well done. Congratulations.

    You are a member of the class of Burn.

  37. Haha that’s great Panos!!!

    Jamie, I can really se how exhibiting this series big and close together would make a big difference and do full justice to this work. Thanks for that info!

  38. Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Morning here in Hanoi again and further thanks for the constructive comments and support.

    Herve – with respect, I can appreciate how the ‘exercise in style’ as you put it might put you off. I want to ask, is it context? If these portraits were made in a studio against a neutral backdrop, would that remove the ‘style’ criticism? It was quite interesting for me to hang these images here in Vietnam and hear from Vietnamese people themselves how they felt about the work. I didn’t really try to map people as Mr. Sanders did in Germany though I really appreciate his work and perhaps in my subconscious was tipping my hat to him. But my approach was more random than his methodology. And I think a discussion in that context isn’t inappropriate. Also, I think Jenny was simply trying to point out that here the war, so as to distinguish it from the period when the Viet Minh were fighting against the French, was referred to as the American war. It was that peace accord in 1954 that effectively split the country along the 17th parallel. Then yes, it did become a civil war. Thank you for your comments.
    Frostfrog – I am delighted that the things that trouble you are what you find good.

  39. “A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”-oscar wilde

    “Outside, the sun shone, but here, I could feel the chill of exile under my skin, in my bones.”-Duong Thu Huong

    Jaimie, first of all, i have say it was great to see your portraits and project here. i apologize for now having had the opportunity to write earlier….it’s been an intense 2 weeks…i watched the slideshow twice last night before going to bed and again this morning….

    It is a deeply beautiful and heart-felt project. As with you, vietnam has a deep and long,personal history in my own life and I was thankful to see (even if from a non-vietnamese)a pespective on Vietnam that at least attempts to photograph a city and the people with out falling into the trope of the residue and scar of the wars (americans should know that the American War was not the only war that the vietnamese people endured) or the idea of a stoic exoticism….but in stead, i saw that essay, really, as a pesonal ode to night, as an ode to the stories that are harbored inside the facesof people and get pasted down through the observations and ways of living…in this case, the stories of the past (including suffering and endurance, but also joy and materialism and playfulness) and the moments of living through the night….the night market, a confluence of stories and lives to begin with…

    I really loved the light and i also loved how in many of the pictures, particularly #16, we are foced to look upsward, skyward, moving vertically, as opposed to horizontally…this has great metaphoric power and also experiential power, because (at least for me), we tend to look up at night…toward stars, toward illumination, to sense the world around…and that movement from the mid-range of the pic toward the top creates a mysterious awakening, particularly when, as it did for me in 16, becomes a shock when we see a 2nd visual element (or person) we had not noticed before…isn’t that what occurs during the night to begin with? ;))….

    Above all, i love the stories contained in the expressions in many of these portraits, in particular the children…who as always, seem to have both the most enigmatic and the most honest…children, who look into cameras without the need to self-protect or create, somehow externalize all that we (as viewers) hope to see in a person or try to understand in a life…it is a deception, and thus the essential life of photography, and yet it connects us, and for me, in truth, that is all i care about in photography: do the pictures, does a story weave some part of another’s life/story/history into my own, am i listening….and, emotional/sentimental me, does a story speak to me about our human collective connection: that it is the stories that unite us…

    like my beloved filmmaker Tran Anh Hung, without whom I can hardly think of vietnam, the faces and the shape and shift of light become connective tissues for what is essentially a celebration, of living and sorrow…for it is impossible not to understand that the older subjects have suffered immeasuably, as all 3 of the wars that vietnam found itself in left indellible scars…not a single family in vietnam was spared the loss of at least 1 family member…that is an extraordinary experience that mines each of these subjects….

    and lastly, can i suggest the extraordinary books by Duong Thu Huong (a dissident vietnamese writer) and by the vietnam-born, american writer Andrew X. Pham, whose 2 books (catfish and mandala and the extraordinary The Eaves of Heaven (which should be mandatory, reading for all americans, french, australians who participated in the 3 wars which howled that nation)….both their insights are necessary for anyone who has spent time or is interested in vientam….

    and the stylization of the portraits (which reminded me less of Sanders and more of the colonialst portraits of Indochine) did at first too unnerved me and then the more i looked, the more i felt that the character of each of their personalities seemed to break through from the clausterphobic nature of the ‘style’….that their bodies and faces and above all the environment in which they felt, were too strong to be boxed in by your camera and your idea…;)))….and god damn, the children and the teenager’s faces arrest my heart…and the 1st young woman: that is the face of asian cinema…and the long, poetic silences of Hou Hsio-Hsien and Tsai Ming-lai….

    congratulations and thank you for sharing your beautiful project :))

    congratulationss Jaime!

  40. Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Dear Bob, you break my heart with your beautiful, heartfelt words. I am running out into the hot, Hanoi night (to play this time, not to work) but I would like to respond more to you at greater length and I will later. Thank you.

  41. Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Dear Bob, good morning. Poured a heavy tropical rain here as I woke today and made thick coffee to sit at the laptop and further reply to you.
    I am indeed family with the works of all of the artists you sited. Though he wouldn’t remember, I met Anh Hung in 2004 in Saigon at the film studio as I was finishing a feature and he was about to start production on Cyclo, a film which – to me – remains one of the best films of contemporary Vietnam in it’s depiction of lust, violence and loss even 15 years later. And I have seen all of what he has done. Vertical Ray of the Sun is delicious. [I wonder, did you ever see a film called Three Seasons? I shot a good portion of that film here back in 1997]
    Duong Thu Huong is essential reading. I believe she remains banned here. I might also suggest to you Le Thi Diem Thuy (who recently gave a reading here) – author of The Gangster We Are All Looking For.

    The faces of youth here – regardless of whether I have photographed them or not – are arresting. And they are everywhere. It is a demographically stunningly young country and when you see the legions of young people here, full of hope, vigor and ignorance, you cant help feel a certain sadness for the realization of the enormous disappointments to come. The woman who appears in the first photograph is, perhaps, emblematic of that. I made this portrait in my very first night working on this project. She found me and asked me to make her picture. I let her choose where and that image resulted – it was then I knew there was something to the idea I was trying. Some week or so later when I was back with prints for people, someone else was going through the stack of images looking at what I had brought and saw hers. Several people in the gathered group remarked that she was an addict. And in fact when I finally found her again to give her the print, she looked terrible. I asked if she would like to make another portrait with me and she said she was too tired. We’ve never seen each other since. An alternate image of her here – http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamagram/3610339760/in/set-72157619394572537/

    Thank you Bob for your deep and attentive looking and reply. I am honored to receive it and to be here on burn. Jamie

  42. Jamie, i did not mean you had Sanders work in your mind, consciously or subconsciously, this was just a reference i brought up personally, in contrast, more than reference actually, to your essay. About context, I am not sure, we can recognize some romanized vietnamese on a wall behind, but otherwise, I’d think the context has to be found elsewhere, maybe as you wrote: “hearing from Vietnamese people themselves how they felt about the work”.

    Do you think it would have been valid to add these reactions to the essay, in some manner?

  43. Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Hi Herve – yes, I think I misunderstood you – maybe I still do.
    If I’m clear now, it is that the pictures do not say “Vietnam” or “Vietnamese” that is troubling to you, is that correct? And if I am right in that, I am wondering why that matters so much. I wont belabor this because maybe I would start a discussion about that but would be wrong in my assumption that this is your point in the first place.
    I dont think it would have been any more valid to include what Vietnamese reactions to this work have been (which were nearly without exception powerfully positive) than it would to include any other subject’s reaction to any other work.
    The Vietnamese language has been Romanized for several hundred years – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_de_Rhodes .

  44. Hi Jamie! :))

    thank you so much for your reply. It is ALWAYS these kinds of details that make the experience of work so so important, the sharing and the discussing of work so critical. I remember a time when there was a discussion at Burn of whether or not to even have comments (since most magazine’s neither allow nor encourage discussion/argument/back-and-forth), and many of us vociferously argued that what differentiates BURN from so many other magazines (online and off) is that: the CONVERSATION! :))…these remarkable and small details that a photographer can share with his audience about work is not only important for the reader/author but also for the subjects…it helps us humanize and remove the natural objectification that the work we do creates….your description of this young woman is a perfect example…which is why when i published Bones of Time here, i tried to provide as much personal information and background stuff during the ensuing discussion….thank you so much for that Jamie! :))

    Her face is filled with heartbreak…when i first clicked on burn on thursday night, i was arrested…part of it is that deeply forlorn and thoughtful expression and the averted eyes and the child’s toes…and she really embodied a deep loneliness that i see in the films of the filmakers i mentioned and that’s it, as you pointed out…i’ve often spoken about this with my friend Oli pin-fat (based in BKK) and it’s sometimes the rich heartbreak…in many ways, most of my favorite asian filmmakers (Hou hsio-hsien, tsai ming-lai, wong kar-wei, Tran Anh Hung, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Lou Ye, Edward Yang, Jia Zhangke, etc) deal with that mysterious space between the appearance of things and the deep chasm of sadness that underlies it……and that is what i felt here…and that, like Kar-wei’s mute boy in Fallen Angels selling pigs or icecream at night, is experssed here in the night market….a resonant truth that is for me the power….

    and yes, i did see 3 seasons…that’s wonderful that you shot it…it is very beautiful film…though, of course, i’m partial to Anh Hung’s films :)))))))))…cyclo, by far my favorite too…

    thanks so much…i have to run…

    more later

  45. ps. i have seen the first 3 films (scent of green papaya, cyclo, vertical rays) and waiting to see his latest…and i hear he’s making Murakami’s Norweigan Woods….could talk asian films all day :))))….ok, gotta fly….:)))

  46. N0 quarrel on romanized language, Jamie. It is just the only thing that indicates we can be in Vietnam(with maybe the women in light “Pajama’ linen, though we come acroos the outfit in Cambodia) in these pictures.

    Hey,Nothing is troubling me, we are just talking, exchanging impressions. To construct your essay as you did is perfectly valid, I just said I saw more style than substance. BUT:

    Photos are a funny thing. They sometimes have plenty of truth in them that reveal itself after a while, sometimes many years. It is quite possible that I will prove myself wrong, looking at them in 5, or 10 motnhs/years, and see much meaningfulness in them that escapes me now.

    I opened your FlickR page with pleasure. Vietnam, not vietnam, context, not context, little matters as long as you succeed in having us wondering, question our perceptions, while enjoying good photography.

  47. Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Bob – love to sit down someday and talk Asian films with you. I’m sure I’d learn a lot.

    Herve – thank you for the continued exchange; I think one thing I was truly interested in this work was NOT indicating too much (or at all). I dont need to say ‘these are Vietnamese people’. It is plenty for me to say ‘these are people’. A lot of non-Vietnamese photographers I see working here focus on the adjective and not the noun and I think the work is weaker for it. Your final sentence does it all for me. Thank you again. And I enjoyed looking through your website as well – my flickr pages are a mess (I use it as a sort-of first edit) and I need to do something a bit more focused. All best. Jamie

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