Vietnam Photo Essay

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Among my most haunting recollections are the faces of the street children (Bui-Doi or "Dust of Life") and their soulful stares.

I have attempted to preserve this aspect of the war lest it might be forgotten—to all our losses.

Our time in the Delta was filled with rice paddies, river ferries, bad roads and, well, people carrying strange things on the back of their bikes. As I was happily snapping photos of the changing scenery from the back of Dave’s bike, we found ourselves riding behind a guy carrying a door on the back of a scooter. I’d heard of and seen photos online of the ridiculously enormous things that are carried around on bikes in Southeast Asia but up until Vietnam I hadn’t actually witnessed it for myself.

Over the next ten days, I set myself the challenge of trying to get a photo of every overloaded bike we passed and had a lot of fun sorting through them for this post.

And then we passed this guy, with a scooter piled high with vegetables.

I have no idea how he managed to keep everything balanced while riding! I can’t imagine this was particularly comfortable to hold on the pot-holed roads…Leaving Mỹ Tho the following morning, I was delighted to see that the crazy carrying madness continuing on from the previous day.I loved seeing this guy carrying huge balls of hay on either side of a stick."I sought to capture the agony that the military presence there inflicted upon the people of Vietnam." Robert K.Brigham, Professor Vietnamese History at Vassar College, has praised Hoffman's work for its presence as a powerful reminder of how important photographers were to telling the story of the Vietnam War.Daily Life The streets of Vietnam are packed with energy!Any time of day, you can find people munching on a variety of delicious snacks, occasionally glancing up from soup bowls to reveal warm and gentle faces. Not all of it pleasant, but they don’t shy away from it.For persons with disabilities experiencing difficulties accessing content on, please use the Do D Section 508 Form.In this form, please indicate the nature of your accessibility issue/problem and your contact information so we can address your issue or question.My photographs take the point of view of the photographer as observer discovering the people of Vietnam in the midst of their war-torn country.As an Army Lieutenant working for the Department of Defense as a photographer and film director, I sought whenever possible to go beyond the war itself—to record the people whose inner dignity showed through the circumstances into which they were forced.


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