A Moment in Vietnam is a photo book, and a glimpse into contemporary Vietnam - the life, the land, and the locomotion. There are 40 pictures within, which were taken all over the country, and take the form of portraits, landscapes, and street photography. All of the pictures in this project were taken on medium-format film. Also within are some observations made during my time in those places, with Vietnamese translation to perhaps give them some credibility.
Vietnam is changing rapidly. With an energised population, a flood of foreign interest, and no love for the past to hold it back, the country will surely look very different in the coming years. This book is a snapshot of the period of 2016-2018, a peek into this place in this particular time.
The making of
Altogether, this book is no more than a few minutes of shutter time (much less still without the long exposures), though it represents nearly three years' effort on my part. And if I've arranged these brief heartbeats well enough, they may mean something to someone else, too.
The project began in April 2016, when I undertook a motorcycle trip from Ho Chi Minh in the south, to Hanoi in the north, and I envisioned a collection of pictures that would capture the trip. I made a lot of pictures, but the project didn't seem complete. Vietnam is a feast of sights, and there was much more still to cover. So I continued to collect pictures from travels all over Vietnam, until, much later, at the end of 2018, it finally felt 'done'.
My accomplice Đỗ Thụy provided advice, help in arranging the book as well as a Vietnamese translation. Thanks to her, and much tweaking and testing, we are now ready to print!
The thing itself
A Moment in Vietnam will be printed by Lâm Thịnh, a printing house in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The look and feel of their books are truly wonderful. There is no compromise in printing locally - the quality is truly top shelf.
The book measures 25x25cm (almost 10 inches square) and uses 190gsm Felix matte paper, with a hard, printed cover (i.e., no dust jacket). The picture here shows a semi-gloss paper inside, which is not the same as the final product. The matte paper is superb - it loses no colour compared to glossy paper, has less glare and keeps fewer fingerprints.
This campaign is also my chance to work with VG Labs again. This Ho Chi Minh printing house makes spectacular prints, and I'm a particular fan of the Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper. So to backers of certain tiers, I will send a print from the book on this paper. The paper will be 25x25cm, to fit with the book. Backers receiving prints will have the option to request particular photos, but there are no guarantees in this because I don't want to hold up printing for the dillydallier who waits a week or two before doing the survey.
Costs and timeline
The aim of this campaign is to raise enough money for 50 books, which will allow a discount on the cost of printing. The cost of printing each book, after a discount for printing 50 books, is about 800,000 Vietnamese Dong, or roughly $48.50 Australian / $34.50 US. The fees for Kickstarter and its payment service are 8% together, and accounting for that brings the cost up to 870,000VND - about AU$53 or US$37.50.
The cost for international registered post from Vietnam is not all that cheap, and it's hard to be sure about as most of the cost is fees that go on top of the stated price. I've not found private services like Fedex and UPS to be cheaper. However I've determined that the total for shipping the book to most countries should be between 500,000-600,000VND. This includes North America, Europe (and UK), Australia and South Africa. For those in Vietnam it's much cheaper at less than 100,000VND. This campaign is based on AUD, and I've set the price for most countries to AU$35, which is about US$25. For those in Vietnam I've set the cost at AU$5. The postage for prints will be cheaper at AU$12 (about US$8.50). Please see the price at the checkout for the final cost to you.
I'm sharing this information because I want people to know I'll not be making stacks of profit. Premium products command a premium price, even in Vietnam. All going well, I'll break even! If you'd like to contribute more, you can always stick a few bucks onto your pledge.
The campaign will finish at the end of March, and printing will take 1-2 weeks, depending on the volume. Postage should take about 4 weeks. If the plan holds, the rewards ought to arrive sometime in May.
This is my first photographic project, and my skills have improved a great deal during its production. Film can be a difficult medium, but the challenge of it and the results it brings are exciting. I hope you, too, will feel the excitement that I've felt in creating this project!
Risks and challenges
The material for the book is complete. The risks of travel and making the pictures are behind me.
There are some risks to do with printing. Nothing is certain, especially when prices are involved! Things that could go wrong include higher prices than quoted, or delays in printing. However, I don't think there is a serious risk of any printing problems that would defeat this project entirely.
Perhaps the most serious risk involves sending this book out of the country. The authorities in Vietnam keep watchful eyes on the materials that move in and out. I have taken the precaution of visiting the inspectors of Ho Chi Minh City's central post office, who stated that there should be no problem with sending it. Since this book is self-published, and not printed by a publishing company, it's considered a 'personal notebook' and faces much less scrutiny than 'proper' books do. The pictures and observations in the book are not political. For these reasons, I am confident that the delivery to backers will be quick and free of hassle.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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