The weekly ethnic minority markets in Northern Vietnam are quite unique (and the photo opportunities are unrivalled). Local people gather for trading, gossiping and getting the basics of life for the week. In an area where there are more than 50 ethnic minorities, maintaining friendly social relations between different cultures is incredibly important. One can often see rugged hill-tribe men having a drink (of home-distilled moonshine), loudly discussing hill-tribe women in their traditional outfit, laughing and negotiating prices or eating pork in scattered groups, and many dressed-up young village beauties who want to be noticed by their local heroes...
My five favourite country markets:
- Cốc Ly Tuesday market at N 22.5023 E 104.1983 (Flower H’mong).
- Sín Chéng Wednesday market at N 22.6608 E 104.2275 (Flower H’mong, Tay, Giáy).
- Cán Cấu Saturday market at N 22.6513 E 104.3151 (Flower H’mong, Nùng, Phù Lá).
- Lùng Phình Sunday market at N 22.5935 E 104.3249 (Flower H’mong, Nùng).
- Bắc Hà Sunday market at N 22.5353 E 104.2919 (Flower H’mong, Black Dao, Nùng, La Chi).
I usually travel on a dirt bike and I do not take any lights, flashes or reflectors. My favourite lenses for street portraits of ethnic minorities are the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G and the AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G, both prime lenses from Nikon. My preference is to use an aperture anywhere from f/2.8 to f/5.6 (in aperture priority mode) to have my subjects stand out from the background.
It’s extremely important to ask for permission and to be respectful to other cultures. I apply advanced NLP-techniques and connect with my subjects quickly, even if there is a language barrier. I also make sure to have eye-to-eye contact.
High-res portrait photographs with full exif data, geotags and technical details in Matt Hahnewald's
Recommended NLP Books for Portrait Photographers: