18 December 2012

Spying on South Red China

An interesting, sometimes mesmerising street portrait is a portrait photograph where the viewer feels that s/he can look into the soul of the subject, and relate or empathise with the subject on a human level. It's capable of bridging the gulf between different cultures, religions, and languages.

There is a saying: eyes are the windows to the soul. If one looks at the most famous portrait paintings in history, most of the subjects in these paintings are looking directly at the viewer. This makes it more personal, intimate, sometimes thrilling: the subjects seem to make eye contact with the viewer.

In South China, like anywhere else in the world, the street photographer's soft skills (people skills and language skills) are key: (i) to establish eye contact with one's potential subject and create rapport, (ii) to strike up a conversation, (iii) to ask for permission, (iv) to respect one's subject's time by mastering your own equipment, and (v) to show gratitude and thank the subject. Most of all though, enjoy your time outside!

close up, people, Chinese people, Chinese man, portrait, street portrait, headshot, South China, Yunnan province, Kunming, Mao's little red book

close up, people, Chinese people, Chinese man, portrait, street portrait, headshot, South China, Guangxi province, Xingping, Li river, old man, Chinese beard, fisherman

close up, people, Chinese people, Chinese man, portrait, street portrait, headshot, South China, Guangxi province, Xingping, old fisherman

close up, people, Chinese people, Chinese man, portrait, street portrait, headshot, South China, Yunnan province, Yuanyang, old man

people, Chinese people, Chinese man, portrait, street portrait, headshot, South China, Guangxi province, Xingping, close up

people, Chinese people, Chinese man, portrait, street portrait, headshot, South China, Yunnan province, Kunming, old Chinese man, Chinese beard, close up

people, Chinese people, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Macau, Chinese girl, smiling, close up

people, Chinese people, portrait, street portrait, headshot, South China, Guìzhōu province, close up, Guiyang

close up, people, Chinese people, portrait, street portrait, headshot, South China, Yunnan province, Kunming, ethnic minority, Bai woman, traditional headdress, Bai headgear

close up, people, Chinese people, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Hong Kong, Chinese girl, smiling, beautiful, Santa Claus hat

close up, people, Chinese people, portrait, street portrait, headshot, South China, Guìzhōu province, Qīngyán Ancient Town

people, Chinese people, portrait, street portrait, headshot, South China, Guìzhōu province, street photographer, Qīngyán Ancient Town, close up


Street photographs from South China in Matt Hahnewald's

27 November 2012

Mapping Southeast China's Minorities

China's Yunnan Province is noted for a very high level of ethnic diversity. It has the second highest number of ethnic groups among the provinces and autonomous regions in China. Among the country's 56 officially recognised ethnic groups, twenty-five are found in Yunnan. According to Wikipedia, some 38 % of the province's population are members of minorities, including the Yi, Bai, Hani, Tai, Dai, Miao, Lisu, Hui, Lahu, Va, Nakhi, Yao, Tibetan, Jingpo, Blang, Pumi, Nu, Achang, Jinuo, Khatso, Derung, Manchu, Sui, and Buyei.

close up, people, street portrait, China, Yunnan, hill tribe, ethnic minority, traditional costume, Yuanyang, Miao people

close up, people, street portrait, China, Yunnan, hill tribe, ethnic minority, traditional costume, Yuanyang, Miao people

close up, people, street portrait, China, Yunnan, hill tribe, ethnic minority, traditional costume, Yuanyang, Miao people

close up, people, street portrait, China, Yunnan, hill tribe, ethnic minority, traditional costume, Yuanyang, Miao people

close up, people, street portrait, China, Yunnan, hill tribe, ethnic minority, traditional costume, Yuanyang, Miao people

close up, people, street portrait, China, Yunnan, hill tribe, ethnic minority, traditional costume, Yuanyang, Hani people

close up, people, street portrait, China, Yunnan, hill tribe, ethnic minority, traditional costume, Yuanyang, Hani people

close up, people, street portrait, China, Yunnan, hill tribe, ethnic minority, traditional costume, Laomeng, Yao people

close up, people, street portrait, China, Yunnan, hill tribe, ethnic minority, traditional costume, Laomeng, Miao people

close up, people, street portrait, China, Yunnan, hill tribe, ethnic minority, traditional costume, Laomeng, Miao people

close up, people, street portrait, China, Yunnan, hill tribe, ethnic minority, traditional costume, Laomeng, Hani people

close up, people, street portrait, China, Yunnan, hill tribe, ethnic minority, traditional costume, Laomeng, Miao people


Portrait photographs of Southeast China's ethnic minorities in Matt Hahnewald's

Portrait photographs from Beijing's Donghuamen Night Market in Matt Hahnewald's

11 November 2012

Meeting the Vietnamese H'mong

The H'mong are an ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand; they are also one of the sub-groups of the Miao ethnicity in southern China.

Bắc Hà is a rural district of the Lào Cai Province in the Northeast region of Vietnam. It is the capital of the region of the Vietnamese Flower H'mong, one of the more than 50 minorities of Vietnam and of the six main groups of the H'mong people. Bắc Hà town is famous for its Sunday morning market, where thousands of locals gather, the older women dressed in their handmade, very intricate and colourful traditional costumes (it takes three to five months to embroider one by hand) and the younger women in their tribal costumes manufactured in China. Another large market is the Saturday morning market at Can Cau, c. 20 km north of Bắc Hà. 

Many H'mong practice shamanism and ancestor worship. Like other animists, they also believe that all things are endowed with spiritual beings and so should be respected. Significant numbers of the Vietnamese H'mong who seek to worship independently of the regime of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam have reportedly been subjected to military attacks, police arrest, imprisonment, extrajudicial killings, and torture.

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume

close up, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Vietnam, hill tribe, Hmong, Hmong woman, traditional Hmong costume


During the Indochina Wars, the United States recruited thousands of H'mong people to fight against forces from north and south Vietnam, known as the Secret War, during the Vietnam War. Hundreds of thousands of H'mong refugees fled to Thailand seeking political asylum. Thousands of these refugees have resettled in Western countries since the late 1970s, mostly the United States, Australia and Canada.


Portrait photographs of Northern Vietnamese H'mong people in Matt Hahnewald's

02 November 2012

Facing Downtown Hanoi

As the capital of Vietnam for almost a thousand years, Hanoi is considered one of the main cultural centres of Vietnam, where most Vietnamese dynasties have left their imprint. It is a very picturesque city, the leafy metropolis sometimes dubbed the "Paris of Asia", one of only a few Asian capitals to retain its historic charm amid rapid modernisation and population growth. Hanoi is a city full of photographic opportunities and most people like to be photographed…

close up, street portrait, street photographer, people, Vietnam, Hanoi, Nikon DSLR, telephoto lens

close up, street portrait, beautiful, people, Vietnam, Hanoi, Vietnamese woman, nightlife, night

close up, street portrait, headshot, friendly, smiling, beautiful, people, Hanoi, Vietnam, Vietnamese girl, áo dài

close up, street portrait, headshot, friendly, smiling, beautiful, people, Hanoi, Vietnam, Vietnamese girl, áo dài

close up, street portrait, headshot, friendly, smiling, beautiful, people, Hanoi, Vietnam, Vietnamese girl, áo dài

people, groupshot, street portrait, Vietnam, Hanoi, Vietnamese women, áo dài

people, groupshot, street portrait, Vietnam, Hanoi, Vietnamese women, áo dài


The áo dài is the stylish Vietnamese national costume, now most commonly worn by women. In its current form, it is a tight-fitting silk tunic worn over pants. The word áo dài was originally applied to the outfit worn at the court of the Nguyễn Lords at Huế in the 18th century. This outfit evolved into the áo ngũ thân, a five-paneled aristocratic gown worn in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Inspired by Paris fashions, Nguyễn Cát Tường redesigned the ngũ thân as a modern dress in the 1920s and 1930s. The updated look was promoted as a national costume for the modern era. In the 1950s, Saigon designers tightened the fit to produce the version worn by Vietnamese women today.

close up, people, groupshot, double street portrait, Vietnam, Hanoi, Vietnamese women, white áo dài, silk, roses

people, groupshot, street portrait, Vietnam, Hanoi, Vietnamese women, smiling, posing, áo dài, silk, roses

people, groupshot, street portrait, Vietnam, Hanoi, Vietnamese women, smiling, posing, áo dài, silk

close up, street portrait, headshot, friendly, smiling, beautiful, people, Hanoi, Vietnam, Vietnamese girl, áo dài


More portrait photographs from Hanoi in Matt Hahnewald's

14 October 2012

Covering Central Sulawesi

Central Sulawesi is located smack in the middle of the island of Sulawesi, formerly known as Celebes, and a province of Indonesia. Indonesia has an estimated population of over 255 million people and is the world's fourth most populous country and the most populous Muslim-majority country.

The roles and behaviour of Indonesian women today are changing, being affected by many factors, including increased modernisation, globalisation, improved education, advances in technology and changes in lifestyle. Many women are moving away from the traditional dictates of Indonesian culture. Though Indonesia is a Muslim nation, the status of women is generally considered to be relatively high; however, their position, rights and behaviour vary considerably in different ethnic groups, even Muslim ones.

street portrait, Indonesia, Central Sulawesi, young Indonesian Muslim lady, photographer, yellow hijab, beach, Nikon DSLR D3200, charming, outgoing, smiling

street portrait, Indonesia, Central Sulawesi, young Indonesian Muslim lady, maroon niqab, beach, beautiful eyes, smiling eyes, charming, outgoing, smiling, posing

street portrait, Indonesia, Central Sulawesi, young Indonesian Muslim lady, maroon hijab, beach, beauty, charming, outgoing, smiling, posing

street portrait, Indonesia, Central Sulawesi, young Indonesian Muslim lady, blue hijab, beach, beauty, charming, outgoing, smiling, posing

street portrait, Indonesia, Central Sulawesi, V sign, Indonesian Muslim lady, green hijab, beach, charming, outgoing, smiling, posing

street portrait, double portrait, Indonesia, Central Sulawesi, beach, charming, outgoing, smiling, posing, Indonesian Muslim lady with son

street portrait, double portrait, Indonesia, Central Sulawesi, V sign, Indonesian Muslim ladies, red hijab, beach, charming, outgoing, smiling, posing

"A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away."

street portrait, Indonesia, Central Sulawesi, V sign, modern Indonesian woman, charming, outgoing, smiling, posing

street portrait, Indonesia, Central Sulawesi, double V sign, modern Indonesian woman, charming, outgoing, smiling, posing

street portrait, Indonesia, Central Sulawesi, double thumbs-up sign, modern Indonesian woman, charming, outgoing, smiling, posing