Stepping in front of the camera
Vy Duong, a civil engineering major with a double minor in humanitarian engineering and public affairs, has done her fair share of traveling. Last fall, she studied abroad in Vietnam and visited Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex during one of her breaks. “Trang An is a really gorgeous place, physically and historically” Duong said. She was inspired to pick up her camera.
The photo above shows a local who provides boat tours. Duong explained that often, much of the standard fee tourists pay for boat rides goes to the company running the tours rather than the guides themselves. Instead, the guides rely on tips, but, ironically, tipping is not a large part of Vietnamese culture. “It’s so important for these local people to make a connection with tourists in order to get the money they need,” Duong said. “Yet there are many barriers to that, including culture and language, which are rarely circumvented, unless the tourists are wealthy Vietnamese people or Vietnamese-Americans like myself.”
Wanting to capture this relationship, Duong stepped out from behind the lens to become the subject of her photo. She had fellow Mines student David LaPorte take the photo, but she still staged the scene, adjusted the settings on the camera and edited the photo after it was taken. Duong is pictured in the foreground of the photo, turned away from the camera. “I really wanted to have this photo, because I am usually the one behind the camera,” Duong said. “I don’t always get the chance to record my interactions with locals in a visual manner.”