How spontaneous and affected do you allow yourself to be? In our increasingly connected world there seems to be a growing disconnect to one's surroundings and the magic that exists in our daily lives. But passions such as film photography allow us to remember and reconnect with moments of joy.
In this interview, we got to know 25-year-old video editor Hà Kim Anh, who has created a small community of like-minded individuals on Instagram through her film photos, which she usually accompanies with book quotes and her own musings. Her message is simple: we can find encouragement and comfort in our surroundings.
Hi! Can you tell us about yourself?
Hi! My name is Hà Kim Anh. I'm 25 years old and for the time being I’m a video editor for a travel company. I graduated from the Department of Korean Studies of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in 2019. Last year I decided to change my job from an interpreter to an editor because of my interest in taking photos.
How and when did you start shooting film?
I started taking film photos in 2020. It’s mostly because some of my friends who also liked photography inspired me. I love antique photos so I choose a film camera instead of a digital camera.
When shooting on film I sense that life is slower. I feel absolutely chilled out when focusing and taking the photo. Through my camera life is much more beautiful.
What's your current photography gear composed of? Any favorite film stocks or cameras?
At the moment I’m using a Minolta SRT 101 with 50 mm f1.7 lens, I also have a point-and-shoot Pentax Espio 120. But I prefer the Minolta over the Pentax. From the very beginning I usually used the Minolta, I have tried some other camera but the feeling when I shoot film with Minolta is somehow different compared to the others.
What is it like being a film photographer in Vietnam? Is there a film community that you're a part of?
My current place is in Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh City). My friend in Sai Gon who also shoots on film like me is very friendly and is a real art lover. We usually ramble around the city to find some places that we can create such a beautiful picture like vintage cafes or just a place to enjoy the dusk.
Sometimes, me and my friends would wake up at 4 am just to catch the dawn. Sai Gon now is a modern city but if you try, you’ll find many locations that have the old beauty in here.
In Vietnam we often post our pictures on Instagram, we follow each other and that is the way I met my friends. Thanks to film I can discover so many lovely friends not only in Sai Gon but also in other cities such as Ha Noi or Nha Trang, etc.
The film community brings us much closer. I am also a member of a group on Facebook called Humans Of Film where I can share my hobby with other people.
What's your favorite place in Vietnam and why?
As I have been living in Sai Gon for eight years, I think I love it here the most. If you’re a traveler you’ll think that people here have a hustle-and-bustle lifestyle but if you lived here long enough you would change your mind, you’d find that people here are very friendly and kind. They care more about each other more than you can know.
In Sai Gon there are very stunning sites, from lovely small shops at the corner of the street to some alleys full of sunshine and flowers. I feel so lucky because since I started shooting film I’ve found many lovely places that weren’t very famous.
What are people's usual reactions when they find out that you shoot film? Do you have favorite moments when going outside to shoot?
Usually people may be curious about the film camera as it’s very different from a digital camera. You have to use a roll of film when you shoot and you can’t see the picture immediately, you need to develop the film in the lab. And when it is done people will love its color.
When going outside to shoot films, I always feel relaxed and comfortable. When I see something cute I will take a picture of it, I don’t set the time for how long I will use up the film roll. Especially when I go out with the camera and on that day if the sunset can be seen clearly I will be very happy. It’s just like an unexpected gift for me.
A lot of your photos seem intimate, perhaps because they're everyday moments that you captured on film. How did you arrive at your own style? And what do you want to tell people through your photos and stories?
Well I kind of don’t know clearly about my shooting style. After many days of tiredness and pressure, I just want to go somewhere where I can find peace. I prefer a deserted place to a crowded one.
I like having a cup of coffee and listening to the birds or watching the sunlight. At that moment I feel happy that I found happiness in my life. I want to keep that moment in my photos.
Every single picture I post on Instagram will include a quote, a story or my thoughts. When people see my picture they will also read the caption. I usually convey my message to encourage or comfort people through my photos so that they can know that their life is still fine. I hope that my photos can heal other people when they’re not having a good day.
Do you have some goals around film photography that you'd like to achieve?
I just want to record my daily life as much as possible. One of the reasons I take photos is that I want to make my followers’ lives better. When they’re in a good mood I’ll be in a good mood too.
I don’t know how long I will stick with shooting film so whenever I can shoot film I will shoot as many pictures as I can to save every moment. Film has changed my life positively. It has helped me to get over some bad things I experienced in the past. I very much appreciate it for the many things it brings to my life.
Many thanks to Hà Anh for sharing her images and experiences with us! To check out more of her work, follow her on Instagram.