Photographer Ha Dao: A dream of contemporary photography

Monday, 2018-12-31 16:35:42
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Photographer Ha Dao
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NDO – Since its launch in 2016, Matca (literally translated as Fish Eye) - a website on the contemporary photography of the world and Vietnam at - has established itself as an interesting address for photography lovers.

Available in Vietnamese and English, the page updates readers on articles and in-depth interviews on a variety of topics; expressing new angles of view on contemporary photography as well as photo contests, festivals, and workshops in the region and the world.

Matca was founded by three members: Linh Pham, Mai Nguyen Anh, and Dat Vu. All are aged under 30 and share a common passion for photography and a hope to build a community for young people who are interested in independent photography projects.

To explore more about the platform, Nhan Dan (People) Monthly Newspaper held an interview with Ha Dao, a key member of Matca who joined the project in March 2017 as an editor, translator and writer of the website.

Question: Can you tell us what makes Matca different from other photography clubs and groups?

Photographer Ha Dao: Photography has been seen as a visual art. In contemporary photography, a photographer now does not have to compare himself with someone else or the predecessor to make him distinguished. What important is that how his works can generate a different way of thinking and a different visual on life’s issues.

Matca is interested in stories told with photos and the different messages a photo and a photographer can convey. We want to provide support for independent photography projects and help young people who are struggling to find their own way to complete their works-in-progress.

Can you give us an example of the projects?

A young person has taken a photo story of Tet (lunar New Year festival) celebration in a rural area. The series includes a family who used to live in the area before moving to the city. With Tet around at the corner, they were busy with preparing for the Tet celebration in their hometown, and then returned to the city on the first day of the lunar year. Although the photo story is a personal experience of the photographer, it also highlights the significance of Tet, the bond among family members, and the gap between generations.

Such stories are curated through our regular discussions, which are developed based on the Portfolio Review event of many professional contemporary photo festivals in the world. During the festivals, experts join acclaimed photographers, gallery directors and editors to curate entries.

At Matca, we host open discussions where members and experts exchange views and share opinions with photographers.

Matca is currently operated by the private funding of its key members. Do you think that your financial situation is strong enough to nurture potential projects in long term?

From the very beginning, we’ve all borne in mind that we do not need any outside financial support to run the project. We are joining other commercial projects to earn our living and spend an amount of our income for Matca.

Actually, the cash expense for the operation of an online website does not cost us much because we do everything by ourselves, from designing, writing, translating to posting and updating information, with the support from several volunteers. What costs us more is time and intellectual effort, but we can manage it well.

It is said that if you give something away, you will end up having more. So, what is the reward you have gained from Matca?

We have actually received much happiness through our work. From the beginning, we have been mindful that Matca is not a place to earn a living but a place for those who have a common interest.

We are happy to see that there are more and more young people like us. Being able to work in a civilised, knowledgeable and open environment is always a dream of artists.

Through Matca, a community of those who are really interested in photography has gradually been unveiled. Matca’s fan-page has been subscribed to by around 12,000 people, and many posts on the page have been seen by over 10,000 viewers. Although the figure is relatively small compared to other entertainment and trading websites, it has sent an initial sign of encouraging success for us.

More importantly, we feel we have contributed to the development of contemporary culture in Hanoi. Together with other self-funded projects which are operating in other fields of creativity such as music and contemporary arts, Matca has brought a fresh air to the spiritual life of young people in the capital city, and we are happy about this.

Thank you so much for your sharing!