Senior street photographers in Da Nang pursue career despite modest customer numbers

By DA NANG Today / DA NANG Today
July 28, 2022, 08:33 [GMT+7]

Over recent years, Da Nang has seen a significant decrease in the number of freelance photographers who work in local streets and tourist attractions as digital photography equipment is increasingly becoming popular.

1. Mai Van Muoi residing in Son Tra District’s An Hai Dong Ward has decades of experience in working as a photographer in the city. His working day at the My Khe Beach in Son Tra District lasts from 5:00am-7:00am, and 3:00pm-6:00pm.

Mr. Muoi is taking photos of his customers on the My Khe beach. Photo: THU DUYEN
Mr. Muoi is taking photos of his customers on the My Khe beach. Photo: THU DUYEN

He has been with the career for so long that he does not remember how many photography devices he has changed. The current camera has accompanied with him for almost two years.

After taking photos of customers, Mr. Muoi will ask for their phone numbers and addresses to deliver the photos to them or wait for customer to receive finished photos right after taking a bath.

Muoi confided that doing this job is like 'being a bride of a hundred clans', with the same photo, but several people will give positive compliments whilst others criticise. “No matter what they say, I'm still happy as they take photos and pay for them" added he.

Although Da Nang’s beaches have recently welcomed a large number of visitors, Mr. Muoi and other photographers don't have many customers.

"Most of people have smartphones, so no one else is interested in hiring a photographer to capture their beautiful memories” said Mr. Muoi.

2. Unlike Mr. Muoi, Nguyen Quynh, 37, starts off his photography quite late, and he also experiences ups and downs in his career.

Quynh’s working day starts at 7:30am and lasts until 5:00 pm. He is often seen around the Marble Mountains Tourist Area where he takes photographs of passengers for a living.

Quynh bought his first camera at a cost of VND 6 million which was a huge amount of money for him at that time.

In 2017, Quynh decided to move from Nha Trang to Da Nang for settling after realising the strong development of the coastal central city’s tourism.

He said that at that time, not everyone had a phone and a camera, so his photography job was quite convenient. His income at that time was enough for his family to live an abundant life. But now, the income level is much lower, the spending must be measured.

In an effort to satisfy the needs of customers and create diversity for them to choose, besides printing photos on papers, Mr. Quynh also prints photos on silk fabrics, porcelain cups and different types of stones.

Quynh said that he had to spend a few months in Da Lat to study the stone printing technology.

Before COVID-19, Quynh's customers were mostly Chinese tourists. But now, the number of Chinese tourists to the city is very modest. Because of that, his photo booth is empty than usual. In addition to taking photos of passengers in the daytime, Quynh also takes photos for parties and events at night to increase his income.

Mr. Them is taking photos of his customers at the Linh Ung Pagoda. Photo: THU DUYEN
Mr. Them is taking photos of his customers at the Linh Ung Pagoda. Photo: THU DUYEN

3. Mr. Them, a photographer who usually works at the Linh Ung Pagoda on the Son Tra Peninsula, has a special passion for photography and that love helps him stick with the profession until now, although it is no longer as attractive as before.

Initially, Mr. Them's job was involved in cinema. After that, he switched to shoot films and taking photos at weddings. Since the Linh Ung Pagoda was open to the public in 2010, he has been seen taking photos of customers for living there until now.

During his many years of work, Mr. Them cannot count all the photos he has taken for pagoda-goers from both home and overseas, making him even more proud of his profession.

He believes that the photos he took have been present in many places, houses and albums, and help customers keep their memories of a journey to Da Nang.

Not only Mr. Muoi, Mr. Dung or Mr. Them, other street photographers have been facing a modest number of customers. However, they still believe that this career will never be lost because of the spiritual value it brings as each photo keeps memories and moments of life that are not easy to get back.

Reporting by THU DUYEN - Translating by M.DUNG