Photography, Recommended

“Puppets that dance on water” – Múa rối nước

Showtime. Or so we hope. At the ticket counter they wouldn’t sell us tickets, instead they told us to take a seat and wait in hope. Hope that more than ten souls were willing to spend half an hour to watch an art form that dates all the way back to the 11th century. Welcome to the world of water puppetry in 2010.

We were lucky. More than ten arrived and we were asked to purchase tickets. Around 50.000 VND for an adult and a child ticket. Finally show time.

It is worth seeing. Period. If you have children and live in Vietnam it is worth seeing more than once. First time I went with Tian was on an outing arranged by the kindergarten and he loved it. We sat at the back as he was still a bit skeptical to the puppets. However, the second visit it was front row and the show is still as mesmerizing as the first time.

Water puppet show.

The quick summary: Water sprouting dragons turning on their fire and smoke, farmers protecting their ducks only to fail, children swimming and performing acrobatics and men and women catching fish the hard way.

Water puppet show.

Water puppet show.

Water puppet show.

Splashing water, the screams from children when hit by water droplets and the traditional music pouring over the loudspeaker system interspersed with laughter make the 30 minutes experience seem like only 5.

Afterwards you have the option of touring the museum, enjoy drinks or ice cream at Ozo or venture further into Saigon Zoo next door.

Water puppet show.


The Historical museum, 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City (Next to Saigon Zoo)

They do morning and afternoon shows. We went in the afternoon. 2pm, 3pm or 4pm.

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As light travels through the lens and records itself, I took a journey to the other side.

Facing the crowd from the catwalk.

Entering the catwalk and facing the crowd.

A photographer is seldom seen as we tend to enjoy staying behind the lens, not in front, unless you are Terry Richardson, that is.

Levi’s Vietnam was putting together a fashion show at their flagship store on Dong Khoi Street, Ho Chi Minh City and provided the opportunity for me to see the other side of the camera. Not only to see; participate; as a model.

It all started out with an invite: “Will you do it or not?” “Yes, will do.” “Great, come in for fitting, pick out what you like to wear for the show. Btw, you will be judged. See you!”

Show day came, arrived early and sent straight to the hair stylist followed by make-up and then a dress rehearsal before changing into the selected outfit and waiting for the time to enter the catwalk.

Undergoing make-up. Image courtesy of Jamie Lowe.

Undergoing make-up. Image courtesy of Jamie Lowe.

A ritual long familiar with except as a spectator, until the moment the model is ready and you are a photographer, capturing moments that you see fleeting in front of you, trying to anticipate and capturing it while it springs out in full blossom. Once you see it and try to capture, it will be wilted by the time your shutter closes. You have to feel the moment and press your shutter while the magic takes place. Passion.

Walking down the stairs and facing the crowd I simply had to capture the moment being on the other side by capturing the opening image above while being captured by so many, including my comrade Jamie.

Mads Monsen photographing the crowd. Image courtesy of Jamie Lowe.

Facing the crowd and photographing the opening image above. Image courtesy by Jamie Lowe.

Levi’s Vietnam has put a video from the show available online and are getting press amongst the Vietnamese blogosphere. “Are you famous now?” “Famous, no, I am the anonymous foreign photographer according to the local press.”

A big thank you to my friend Jamie for supplying me with images for the blog post.

Jamie Lowe, the catwalk photographer.

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