Photographs taken throughout Vietnam were honored by major photo contests at home and abroad this year, promoting the country’s images.
In March, Khanh Phan won the SkyPixel US$15,000 Grand Prize for her overhead shot of two women wading in a pond while picking white and magenta water lilies in the Mekong Delta province of Long An.
Water lilies, which blossom during the rainy season, are used for decoration and to make tea. Their stalks can be eaten raw with fermented paste, or braised sauce, or cooked in sour soups and hotpots.
During the flooding season, people in the Mekong Delta flock to flooded fields and ponds to harvest the lilies and sell them at nearby markets.
The contest held by SkyPixel, one of the world’s most popular aerial photography communities, along with technology company DJI, received over 65,000 submissions.
Pham Huy Trung was honored in the top 100 at the 8th 35AWARDS contest in early May.
His image captured a mother and child Bryde’s whales hunting small fish off De Gi beach in the central province of Binh Dinh, home to the popular resort city Quy Nhon, according to the contest website's description.
Launched in 2015 by the professional photo community 35photo.pro, the contest received entries from 104,000 photographers representing 174 countries and territories.
In June, Nguyen Ngoc Thien won second prize at the Ocean Geographic (OG) Pictures of the Year Awards for his photograph of the coral reef ecosystem on Yen Islet in the central province of Phu Yen, famous for its pristine beaches.
The shot captures the carpets of coral reefs that rise up during low tide on Yen Islet, around 15 kilometers north of Tuy Hoa, the capital city of Phu Yen.
Winning the runner-up spot in the ‘Coral Reefs of the world’ category, Thien won a $500 OG Expedition voucher plus a $1,000 Aurora Expedition voucher.
Yen Islet (Hon Yen) is home to beautiful, very fragile coral reefs that have been placed under strict government protection. A rising number of tourists visiting Phu Yen in recent years has prompted local authorities to take urgent measures to protect the local ecosystem.
Since all coral reefs are sensitive and vulnerable natural resources, authorities have prohibited people from walking on their surfaces, which could deform or kill them, leading to the destruction of habitats for many marine species.
Organized by Australia-based Ocean Geographic Society and Ocean Geographic magazine, this year’s contest attracted thousands of entries competing in 17 different categories.
A photo titled "Soy Sauce Village" taken in the northern province of Hung Yen won German photographer Thea Mihu the iPhone Photography Awards (IPPA)’s title of Photographer of the Year in August.
The photo portrays a local resident stirring a giant container of soy sauce, a specialty of Ban Yen Nhan Village in Ban Hamlet, My Hao District, Hung Yen Province, around 30 kilometers from Hanoi.
The village is famed for its own sauce making process passed through generations. The use of rain water or water from a particular bore-well is said to be part of the "secret" behind this sauce, which is now known widely as tuong Ban (Ban soy sauce) or tuong lang Ban (Ban Village soy sauce).
Tuong is a salty paste made from fermented soybeans. It is a popular dipping sauce for vegetables, boiled meat, and Vietnamese summer rolls goi cuon (made of pork, prawn, vegetables, rice vermicelli, and other ingredients wrapped in rice paper). It is also used as a condiment.
The paste, which is generally dark brown in color, is produced by adding the fungus Aspergillus oryzae to roasted soybeans, which are then allowed to naturally ferment in a jar with water until it develops a savory flavor.
First held in 2007, the IPPAs are an annual competition that chooses the best photos taken by iPhones from submissions worldwide. The awards honor photographs and photographers in 16 categories.
Indonesian photographer Robert Lie won the highest honor in IPPA’s Still Life category for his photo taken in the ancient tourist city of Hoi An.
The photo captures the image of the iconic yellow walls of traditional Vietnamese homes adorned with the country’s national flag.
Other household items are also featured in the frame, including paintings of women in ao dai, an old TV, a vase with pomegranate branches, a kerosene lantern, an aloe vera pot, and a tea set.
Hoi An is one of Vietnam’s popular tourist destinations thanks to its slow pace of life and unique cultural features.
In August, Thai Viet Hoan brought home a total cash prize of US$10,000 after his photo taken in Phu Yen Province won at the ProArtist Awards 2023.
The photo shows fishermen pulling out their green nets to catch fish, which from above take the shape of a dolphin.
The position of the fisherman's small red basket boat creates a perfect eye for the dolphin.
“The delicate wisps of the fishing net hang beautifully beneath the surface of the water like a giant sea creature,” said visual artist and photographer Ruben Wu, a contest judge.
The Asus ProArtist Awards are organized by Taiwanese multinational computer, phone hardware and electronics manufacturer Asus, in alliance with creative industry leaders Pantone and Calibrite, and in collaboration with renowned film and animation schools.
This year's contest received thousands of entries from over 100 countries.
A photo featuring the Saigon River at night won first prize at the Amazing Vietnam online photo contest hosted by Du Lich (Tourism) Magazine and the Vietnam National Authority of Tourism in August.
The winning works were selected from 13,279 entries by 1,032 photographers across the country.
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) has recently begun tapping into the potential of river tours. A series of cruise tours are now available, taking tourists on explorations along both banks of the Saigon River.
HCMC currently has 20 river tours, with mid-range routes from downtown to the outlying districts of Cu Chi and Can Gio, as well as long-range routes to the Mekong Delta and even Cambodia’s capital of Phnom Penh.
Cao Ky Nhan won first prize in the Open-Built Environment category at the Epson International Pano Awards 2023, the world’s largest panoramic photo event, in October.
Nhan’s image of a farmer herding ducks at Tra O Lagoon in Binh Dinh is mesmerizing.
Nhan said when feeding time arrives, the duck herder brings food and calls out to the birds, prompting thousands of rushing ducks to surround him in no time.
To capture the moment, Nhan used a drone and added a filter.
Nhan, 41, is a freelance photographer who hails from Phu Yen Province that borders Binh Dinh, and currently works in Ho Chi Minh City. He began pursuing a career in photography in 2016.
Tran Tuan Viet won second prize last month in Adapting for Tomorrow category of Environmental Photographer of the Year 2023 contest for his photo of mud ball wrestling festival in the northern province of Bac Giang.
The ball wrestling festival at Van village in Viet Yen District, is held from the 12th to the 14th of the fourth lunar month every four years and has become a unique tradition in the northern region.
It commemorates the victory of four brothers - Truong Hong, Truong Hach, Truong Lung and Truong Lay - over a bunch of demons in a mud-ball wrestling match in a marsh in the 4th century CE.
The festival features ancient rituals and spiritual beliefs of wet rice civilizations, with local farmers praying for bumper crops and good weather for the rice season.
The competition, launched by independent environment organization Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management and free streaming service WaterBear, attracted thousands of online submissions from over 159 countries.