Flora and Jeffrey moved from San Jose, California to Singapore and they have started the wonderful blog Jeffrey and Flora: Living in Singapore to document their live abroad, their travels and all the things they do and see along the way. Having lived in Singapore myself, I love to see the city through their eyes and I always feel a bit "homesick" after reading their posts. :)
They are lucky enough to be close to all those amazing Asian destinations and when I asked Flora to join the Travel Snapshots series she chose pretty Vietnam to be featured! Thanks so much for your support Flora, I love your post!
What is your most favorite place to take photographs?
Vietnam. More specifically, the southern parts of Vietnam, including Ho Chi Minh City.
The people, the food, and the streets are so colorful and vibrant. About 60% of the population in Vietnam is under 30 years old, so there are lots of young, beautiful people all around. I also like the contrast of the old French colonial architecture mixed with modern things like streets full of scooters.
Which popular sights did you like best?
The markets of Ho Chi Minh City are some of my favorite places to take photos. Vendors' stalls are crammed in tight along a grid of narrow alleyways, each stall packed full of wares. I'm drawn to the bright colors, smells and sounds of locals going about their daily business. Some markets are more for locals, while others like Ben Thanh Market are popular with tourists.
Every place has its own beauty, essence and specialities. How can this be captured on film?
I think it's important to take photos of the things that touch you in a certain way, even if it might not be the most typically scenic photograph. I like taking photos of streets, signs (especially if they're in different languages), old buildings, and things from everyday life that remind me I'm just passing through someone else's neighborhood. There is beauty in everything, you just have to find it.
Are there any specifics to take into consideration while shooting and do you have any special recommendations on how to get the "perfect picture"?
I enjoy shooting in manual mode and finding the perfect settings to take a beautiful photo. But other times, I just set it to Av mode and let my camera do the work so that I can spend more time enjoying the moment. Sometimes, there's more to capturing a perfect moment than just taking a beautiful photograph.
I used to be afraid of taking photos of scenes where people were involved, because I thought they might be offended. But if you just let yourself become a part of the scene, you'll quickly become part of the background and people often forget you're there taking photos. It's these candid photos of people and situations that are often my favorites because they're organic.
While traveling, what camera equipment do you normally take?
I used to carry around a really beat up Canon Rebel xsi with a kit lens. Nothing fancy at all and often inadequate. Now I bring my Canon 60D with a 55-135mm lens, and my nifty 50 mm 1/8 lens too. I like to pack light so I rarely bring a tripod, but if I feel I'll need one I bring my Gorillapod.
What is your most favorite picture of this place and why?
I took this photo while at the Cao Dai temple in the Tay Ninh Province of Vietnam. Caodaiists pray several times a day at this temple, and I got a chance to see their beautiful prayer service. Men and women pray separately; their prayers and chants seem almost ethereal because they all chant and bow in unison like a choreographed performance. I like this picture because it reminds me of how calm and peaceful it was that day in the temple. I can hear the chanting and music in my head when I look at it.