I recently spent two weeks photographing the ethnic minorities of northern Vietnam. I had been to Sapa, Vietnam a few years ago. It was a bit too touristy to be a good place for photography. However, I loved the beautiful landscapes of northern Vietnam and the wonderful people so I decided to go back but to smaller more isolated communities where fewer westerners are seen.
I left Hanoi and headed north with a driver and guide. The distances between stops were not great but driving time was long because the roads were dangerous. At spots there were drop-offs of hundreds of feet. The roads for the most part were one lane with an occasional near head on collision. At the time I was thinking how there were no trauma centers in that part of the world.
We made stops in Tu Le, Mu Cang Chai, Bac Ha, Ha Giang, Yen Minh, and Meo Vac. I slept in these cities and made day hikes into the mountains.
The people of northern Vietnam were extremely friendly. During hikes we were often invited into their homes for green tea and rice wine.
The homes are simple, surprising large, and had little for wall decorations. However, every home had a prominently displayed wedding picture and a picture of Ho Chi Minh. A diffuse light entered through open doorways creating a soft light for photography.