We got married in August, 2014, but had to postpone our honeymoon, as my wife was due to start her PGCE a few days after the wedding. The year was long and gruesome, but we did have the honeymoon to plan and look forward to.
Vietnam had always been on the top of my list of places to go — It is a dream place to go with a camera. After booking the trip, my attention almost immediately turn to cameras. After obsessing for months over which camera to get I finally decided on the Fujifilm X100T, the perfect travel/street camera.
While looking for the camera, I read and watched countless travel photography blogs and videos to help influence my choice, and learn from pros how they work abroad, mainly from travel photographer, David Hobby. He uses Fujifilm X series cameras and gives tons of great advice about them and travel photography. The most memorable and valuable piece of advice he offered was, ‘Every possession is a burden’, which really helped me look at my original list of gear I was going to take and majorly rethink, there even was a laptop going at one point. In the end, I took just my X100T along with my iPhone 6 as the back up.
Obviously there are countless ‘trophy shots’ that I brought back from the trip, but I will show just a few here.
We started off on a cruise around ‘Ha Long Bay’. This has to be one of the most amazing places on this Earth. Every photo taken here looked like a postcard shot, which made it difficult thinking outside of the box for this one.
This is the photo off the top deck of the boat during the breath-taking sun set. This together with a few G&T’s and chatting to the other travellers, hearing their stories was easily one of the highlights of the trip for us. So relaxed and chilled. We couldn’t imagine how it could get better than this.
Back on dry land and in the main city of Hanoi. It is a crazy place with 2,000,000 scooters/motorbikes on the streets, with a shocking 25 (approx.) deaths on the roads, according to one local. I had done a fair bit of research before the trip and noticed we were staying near an amazing railway that almost cut through houses. This was on the way to the museum so I made sure that we weren’t going too far out of our way to capture this.
The country is still obviously trying to recover from the war, which meant great photo opportunities, but also a lot of tough sites and stories from the locals of hardship and struggles. The railway was a back garden to the people who lived there. Kids playing on the track and people even eating and drinking on, or very close to it. We never saw the train in action as it must have only passed through once or twice a day, but I wouldn’t imagine there to be much room left between the train and the houses.
The next place we went to was Ha Noi, which was a bit more touristy. It was evident how much religion meant to people here, with Gods and shrines in every shop, incense burning and on a full moon the tradition seemed to be to burn bins of paper or scraps at the front of their shops or houses. Another tradition here is to light a floating candle and send it down the Sông Thu Bõn river. The river was lined with locals selling these, which was amazing to see and obviously the candles where giving off fantastic warm glow, creating amazing shadows and enhancing emotions on peoples faces.
The whole trip was one amazing experience after the other. I would definitely recommend going to Vietnam.
A little observation we made while people watching — Don’t take to much gear with you. We did find it quite entertaining looking around at other tourists with an incredible amount of gear, especially in Hoi An. The worst offender had two large DSLR’s with flash guns strapped to herself with her other half wandering behind, looking miserable holding the camera backpack and tripod. Again, another tip from Hobby explains if you aren’t getting paid on your travels, you should enjoy it first and foremost. Don’t let a once in a lifetime trip become an assignment, which can very easily ruin it not only for you, but others that are there with you.
About Daniel Smyth
I am a graphic designer for Queen’s University Belfast by day and an amateur photographer by night. When I have free time, I am usually found wandering around trying my best to capture a new perspective of wherever I have ended up. I may have a slight obsession with Instagram, having now reached the 1,000+ follower milestone! More of my work and photos can be found on my website.