The trendy Analogue House, Vietnam's Lomography paradise, is entrepreneur Quốc Hưng Lê's dream-turned-reality. A beautiful French villa, local and international analogue enthusiasts grace the interior and forge memories based on their shared passion for film. Hưng Lê recalls some of these, as well as his own, experiences...
My name is Hưng Lê, a 24 year-old young entrepreneur based in Hanoi, Vietnam. Generally, I love being involved in any activities that allow me to be creative and experiment with new ideas. Over the last 6 years I’ve been working in a number of different fields including product photography, graphic design, and web development. I’ll sometimes do woodwork and fix my neighbor’s printers, too.
Last year I decided to open a store that sells Lomography items in Hanoi, Vietnam and have been working here full time ever since. Not only are we now selling Lomography products but we also offer film development services (with scanning) for 135, 120, and 110 film in both Color Negative and B&W. We also do Cross Processing as well.
If you are in Vietnam and are reading this, you’re invited to check out my store at 2/24D Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, or visit us online.
On top of film photography, I often play football (soccer) with my friends during the weekends.
What’s Analogue House’s favorite Lomography Camera?
I love the LC-A+ and Lubitel 166+ the most for two simple reasons: The LC-A+ allows me to take quick snapshots without worrying too much about the exposure time, focus settings, and composition. It’s also very small and compact so I can carry it around easily.
On the other side, the Lubitel 166+ offers me much more control when I feel a little more artistic and want to take serious pictures.
What’s the Photography/Arts Scene like in Vietnam?
Vietnam traditionally is a historic country with full of amazing photographic and arts scenes. There are many interesting elements that can inspire you such as the people, old houses, delicious street foods, tiny coffee shops, rusty old bridges, early morning flower shops, pagodas, temples and the crazy traffic (seriously, chaos does have its own beauty!)…
So Vietnam is where you can take interesting photos in numerous ways. Trust me, it’s kind of difficult to take bad photos here, though this might be a little exaggerated…
What began your passion for Analogue/Analogue House?
My passion for analogue photography started awhile back, probably 3 or 4 years ago when I took a film photography course as I was still studying in the United States. I still remember that’s when I found out how dark a darkroom really is. During that course, I learned how to get the film out of its container and put it to the reel film developing tank with my eyes closed. I also learned to develop film with different kind of chemicals and make a photo by projecting light through the negative onto film paper as well as many cool techniques like making the black corners vintage look more obvious, balancing the output color via CMYK channels… but the moment that really hits me is seeing my pictures gradually come to life when they are still wet. Probably no word or phrase can better describe my feelings at that very moment better that “pure magic”.
I got to known about Lomography after returning to Vietnam and really liked the core idea of it. However, there was no shop selling Lomography cameras and no community/club so I thought why not start one? And that’s how Analogue House was born.
Share one of your favorite photos with us and describe what’s going on in it!
This is one of my favorite photos. It was taken with the Lubitel 166+ Universal last June. What I like most about this pic is the fact that it portrays a very Vietnamese look and feel. For example, the woman in the photo is one of the many fruit peddlers you’ll run into almost anywhere here. Here, she’s seen selling fruits – peeling them while taking a noontime rest. Also, even as there are more and more cars on the roads, you can see that motorbikes are still our main method of travel in Vietnam. This, plus the fact I was sitting in a street cafe shop looking out to shoot this photo, makes this photo special.
Your store in Ha Noi has been opened for almost one year now, what’s the reception been like since onset?
Even though Lomography is still a new concept, it has been receiving a huge number of very warm welcomes from numerous people who love taking photos with either digital or film cameras throughout the country. Most of the time, our customers show immediate interest when first laying eyes upon any Lomography product due to their eye-catching design, colorful look, as well as the beautiful packages. “Surprise” is another common reaction I notice when demonstrating how Lomography equipment works, especially with the Spinner 360° and Horizon Perfekt cameras. I would say that it’s pretty obvious to realize the fact that Lomography products have represented themselves quite well not only as a new kind of film camera and equipment that have a class of their own, but also their strong attractiveness and appeal to young people.
My colleague and I here at Analogue House are also trying very hard to promote the core idea of Lomography, the way of life that Lomography has embraced for so many years, since it’s also our belief too.
For Lomography fans in/visiting Ha Noi, what sorts of activities does Analogue House run that they may be interested in?
We have a number of different thoughts on this but these should be the most interesting activities that draw major attention:
Analogue workshops: Teaching terminology, skills, techniques, tips & tricks on film photography.
Film development classes : Educate people on the process of developing film in darkrooms.
Outdoor shooting activities : Go out and take some photos with Lomography cameras
Set-up a club & getting social: Off-topic meetings, getting to know people who have a common interest in analogue photography and Lomography.
Tell us one memorable story of an event or someone you met during your Analogue journey!
Opening a store is not an easy task, especially when you are selling some odd and crazy (in a cool way) products like Lomography cameras. And building a community around it is a much harder mission. Things sometimes go out of control when you are a just guy that has no previous experience in running a business. So yes, even though there have been a few bumps along the way, last year to me was a very exciting ride. A lot of lessons learned, many friends made, and there are memorable stories should be shared. One of my most unforgettable memories would be the time when we were renovating the old French villa to our current store now.
It was a little over a month after the Analogue House started and everyone was having a lot of fun together. We teamed up to repaint all the windows and doors, fix all the water pipes, rebuild the balcony, modernize the kitchen and bathroom as well as remodel the 2 small warehouses to store products & equipment…
We designed, arranged, and rearranged stuff many times until we felt happy with the way it is now. We worked hard, went home late and had to have fast food for dinner for many days in a rows… Yes, there was a lot of work but we were also all having fun together and that’s the most important thing that helps us remember why we’re doing what we do.
What’s in store for the future?
More Lomography cameras, more film, more accessories, more events, more workshops, more customers, and more friends!
Lomography in 3 words…
That would be:
Thanks Quốc Hưng Lê and Analogue House!