In love with Vietnam

Hanoi through the lens of a Belgian photographer

The debut of the photobook “Hanoi, Wednesday, 10:43pm” by Belgian photographer Wouter Vanhees takes readers on a journey through Hanoi from different angles.
The photobook “Hanoi, Wednesday, 10:43pm” is 144 pages long with 70 photographs. The book takes readers on a journey through a Hanoi of a neon-lit haze, crisp shadows, and illuminated windows punctuating the night sky.

Wouter Vanhees is a Belgian photographer based in Hanoi since 2015. After long days of work, he went to the streets and took pictures of what he saw. He took an online class on photography shortly after discovering he was passionate about it. Wouter once had the intention to do a photobook of the buildings he took pictures of during his business trips to Ho Chi Minh City. His instructor, however, advised him to do a photobook of Hanoi, where Wouter has been living and working.

Every Wednesday night, from 9pm on, Wouter rode on the streets of Hanoi with his cameras. He took photos at near and far distances, and often waited for different moments to make differences in the photos.

Wouter Vanhees introduces his work in the photobook “Hanoi, Wednesday, 10:43pm” . Photo: Cong Dat / VNP

The photo ”Temporary camps of construction workers in Hanoi” by Wouter Vanhees. Photo: Cong Dat / VNP

Photography lovers in Hanoi are interested in Wouter Vanhees' photobook. 

Beautiful works by Wouter Vanhees.

Waiter really wanted to do a series of photos of people when he saw the makeshift shacks of construction workers. It was quite an interesting experience but also very difficult because it took conversation to build mutual trust. Due to the language barrier, he decided to go back to taking pictures of apartment buildings and villa apartments for his photo series.

“It is difficult to capture this transition of Hanoi. I simply want to capture moments of Hanoi during my days living and working here.”
(Photographer Wouter Vanhees)
One of Wouter’s most memorable stories was how he climbed inside some of the buildings under construction. Although it was very dark and dangerous, Wouter captured images inside the buildings under construction and was at a high position to capture other buildings with lights at night.

In 2019, Wouter and a friend organized the "Cities in transition" exhibition at Dang Thai Mai street (Tay Ho, Hanoi). Some of his works were posted in newspapers including the Washington Post and Vice. In 2020, he decided to cooperate with MATCA Vietnam to do the photo book “Hanoi, Wednesday, 10:43pm” instead of working with a German publisher.

“I think that my MATCA friends who are Vietnamese will understand more about the topic of my book. On the other hand, my office is also very close to the MATCA office, so it will be easier for us to exchange ideas and learn from each other,” said Wouter.

Wouter and the MATCA team first had to take into account the size, number of pages, and number of images that would be used for the book. In the end, he and MATCA decided to title the photobook "Hanoi, Wednesday, 10:43pm" with 144 pages with 70 photos. These photos were selected and edited according to color similarities and the emotions and changes of the city from the first photos taken by Wouter. The photobook was designed in a free style; with some photos put on the left and right of the pages, some spread out to 2 pages, and a lot of white spaces put in for viewers to rest their eyes.

Photos capture the beauty of Hanoi by Wouter Vanhees:

Story: Ngan Ha        Photos: Cong Dat & Wouter Vanhees       Translated by Hong Hanh

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