The Black Hmong hill tribe are by far the largest ethnic minority group in and around Sapa who occupy the least hospitable land at the highest altitudes when they first arrived in North West Vietnam from Southern China in the late 18th century. The immigration intensified in the 19th century and continued sporadically until the beginning of the 60s. This was where I ended up, on a cool cloudy morning during my photo routine after a slow bumpy ride along the muddy unpaved mountain road on my rugged rented Russian motorbike. The roads can be pretty poor condition with all sorts of obstacles along the way such as water crossings, pot holes, domestic pigs and water buffaloes and the occasional truck as well as heaps of other motorbikes loaded to the hilt with all manner of things.
Lao Chai Black Hmong village is about 10 km south of Sapa town, a small hamlet nestled among the hills. I had company of two elaborately dressed Black Hmong women, both young mothers who giggled shyly when I tried to exchange greetings with them. One was carrying a large woven basket and the other was a young mother of two. They are called Black Hmong due to their deep indigo blue dress they wear which is actually hemp that's dyed violet from plants grown locally and that explains also why most of the women have darker than usual hands. They wrap their legs, from ankle to knee, in black velvet which is held in place by a colourful band. Embellished with embroidery, they decorate themselves with many silver bracelets and large silver hoop earrings, often spotted with head gear, a tall round black hat and finishes off with colorful comb embed in their hair.
Tourism has not undermined local culture I supposed, and this has turned a small percentage of them business-minded, but it has also made them less shy of strangers. Indeed, one could say they are quite used to foreigners by now. Ethno-tourism in Sapa is less about reality and more about giving tourists what it is they have traveled so far to see and providing a much-needed income to the tribes. But through my observations, sadly the Black Hmong still remain at the bottom of the economic ladder like any other ethnic minorities..
Critiques | Translate
dkmurphys (44761) 2012-09-29 6:22
Very fine capture of the group of people. I love the background, mysterious and attractive. It's like they're gonna take a trip into the unknown. Well composed!
SWEETFREEDOM (20840) 2012-09-29 6:32
very nice full body portrait, with characteristic dress. i like the mist in the bg. good colors and details.
kjm (191) 2012-09-29 7:17
Very nice picture, and thanks for the explanations!
macjake (49438) 2012-09-29 7:36
wow, you honestly do such a wonderful job in providing amazing cultural experiences, its the type of photos we'd see in National Geographic!
what a beautiful and culturally rich scene,
and your note describes it perfectly.
I want to stop writing just so i can view the photo again!
korbee (6615) 2012-09-29 8:03
i think the misty mood in the forrest is making the portrait very interesting,looks like there on the road for a long walk ;=]
Typical Nat.Geo style.
leo61 (0) 2012-09-29 8:10
Great shot pf these ethnic people.
great high POV and good composition with the fog in the bg.
JFS (32457) 2012-09-29 9:09
Delicious shot Abmdsudi, you are unique managing the light. What a great image and work. Thanks!
annjackman (16861) 2012-09-29 9:16
I find this picture incredibly evocative with the foggy BG. The colours in the clothes stand out against the mud and fog. I enjoy the position of the women and the small child running behind. There is a wonderful quality about this photo. I read your note with great interest - TFS.
Kind Regards, Ann
krzychu30 (14996) 2012-09-29 9:39
wow,the scene you capture on this photo is magnificent.You were able to capture excellently these people in very good quality and to convey perfectly this unique mood created by the fog in the background.For me the composition is a masterpiece!I know I won´t be original,but I just have to agree with some other opinions-perfect photo for National Gragraphic cover.
Have a nice evening
Fis2 (79890) 2012-09-29 10:28
I like this daily life shot.
Good reportorial work.
I like frame and colors.
Have a nice sunday
pajaran (45627) 2012-09-29 11:51
Vrlo interesantan i dobar tekst ...
Lep pogled na zene sa decom ...
Dobra ostrina, kontrast i perspektiva, lepe boje.
Dobra kompozicija, lep trenutak sa maglom.
Sve najbolje za vikend.
Very interesting and good text ...
Nice view of women with children ...
Good sharpness, contrast and perspective, beautiful colors.
Good composition, beautiful moment with fog.
All the best for the weekend.
Budapestman (82620) 2012-09-29 15:08
a splendid photo with beautiful composition and details, the atmosphere of the photo is fantastic, Tfs! Have a nice weekend! Kellemes hétvégét kívánok!
bukitgolfb301 (33776) 2012-09-29 18:05
Hi dear Abmdsudi YTH
This is another wonderful image. Your posting makes me have nostlgy for Vietnam and also makes me post Vietnam image. Strong fog adds very good atmosphere. Delight color gradation is very nice. Thanks for your sharing and have a good Sunday!
Takero from Tokyo
SteveH (6191) 2012-09-29 18:39
Hi Abmdsudi, great shot - well controlled backlighting works well - did you use a flash to get the light on their faces? cheers, Steve
mayjayne (2940) 2012-09-29 22:04
I love this composition: the mood, the atmosphere, contrasting subjects and interesting colours...Excellent eye to capture this !
papagolf21 (81730) 2012-09-30 1:22
Vos photographies sont des réussites. Vous avez un don pour saisir ce qui vous entoure.
Ici, encore, le résultat est excellent.
Une image de grande qualité.
mauro61 (52623) 2012-09-30 1:58
sembra l'immagine di un film, tanto sei stato bravo a tenere insieme la luce e l'inquadratura.
Soggetti che escono splendidamente con i loro colori,
CLODO (27714) 2012-09-30 2:55
You make me dream by reading your note and looking at your picture. Nice misty atmosphere to enhance the cloth colors.
Schnappilic (9682) 2012-09-30 5:21
TFS such a people from that part of the world. The whole composition is great with that misty background. Nice atmosphere!
All the best!
bayno (18340) 2012-09-30 5:44
excellent reportage on this small ethnic group, very beautiful traditional costumes and colors, I love the atmosphere you've created with that flash of light in the background, framing is excellent as the quality...
have a good sunday...
ACL1978 (7327) 2012-09-30 8:31
The mist makes this shot really breathtaking, Abmdsudi, and the way you've arranged the perspective complements it beautifully, as the whole shot moves slowly into the fog - the path, the people, the eye... the frame of a house, barely visible, emerges as a destination here, with faint cart tracks headed that way as the jungle closes in around them. Beautiful portraiture complements and focuses the whole scene - very evocative and powerful work.
eldancer1 (23174) 2012-09-30 9:02
I had a chance to do a little study of the Hmong people who came to the U.S. They had a small community in central California. This is awesome capture! The scene looks romantic but I don't think those people think so, it's their way of life and I don't think their life's path is easy. I like the effect of the mist. Good soft lighting and nice details. Well done, tfs.
CanmoreKevin (2111) 2012-09-30 9:21
Remarkable capature. I love the distant fog. Great placement of the three figures.
adramad (33662) 2012-09-30 10:17
A wonderful ethnic image, the image is great with these women and their children, in their usual environment and captured in a natural moment, without preparation, the landscape of the area on the hillside, which gives background haze one beautiful ambience contributes to the success of the composition.
Superb sharpness and brightness, with a very natural color.
Have a nice Sunday.
siamesa (27701) 2012-09-30 10:49
Boa tarde Abmdsudi
Wonderful work. The photos and the informations about thie people are excellents. Reading how you go to this place I think how important is this site, having photographers like you. Congratulations.,
maria-v1981 (10420) 2012-09-30 13:36
A wonderful capture, i like very much the effect of the fog. Yoy got an atmospheric image, with lot of detaols and colours. The womans has a straing poze like waiting something.
Have a nice Monday,
marabu61 (6603) 2012-09-30 14:47
What a coincidence, I just watched todays entry from Takeros (bukitgolfb301) and he had a gorgeous portrait of a black Hmong women.
I like here how the tow women in their colorful dresses contrast with the drab fog wafting throug the woods. It gives the picture a real nice mood.
have a good week
fabbs99 (14521) 2012-09-30 21:02
The shot is simple but having excellent sharpness and clarity. Well composed photo. A great use of light. The deep depth of field is perfect.A quality image and stunning presentation.TFS.
Keep sharing and exchanging views.
Best wishes and warm regards
delpeoples (50721) 2012-10-01 4:44
What a very candid, beautifully composed people shot. The effect of the mist is the most important element in the photo, beside your wonderful subjects. The colours are so vibrant and sharp. I also like the slight distortion of the wide-angle lens, making it a very arty shot. Thanks for sharing, have a beautiful evening.
saxo042 (35900) 2012-10-01 8:06
A very well captured view of these women. The dark and hazy background adds to the feeling of "mystery" but you have also included a very interetsing note to this beautiful picture.
lpi (4857) 2012-10-01 9:10
Un très bon de shot riche en couleurs et en détails.
J'aime l'expression des visages.
Merci pour le partage!
ourania (22900) 2012-10-01 10:14
the intriguing and intrigued expressions, the unfamiliar outfits and the misty ambiance give to the picture a very attractive sense of mystery. A great scene and composition that invites us to dwell in this frame for a long time. I like very much the way the two women and the little girl stand out in this misty environment against the natural colours of the forest. The sharpness you have achieved is admirable, the depth and perspective have been used excellently and the mysterious background is equally fascinating with the eye catching details on the expressions and clothes of the two women. An exquisite picture, congratulations and thank you!
All the best, have a lovely day,
Cricri (97215) 2012-10-02 1:51
Une belle image de famille de ce pays inconnu pour moi, vos images est un vrai plaisir a regarder, intéressante par la note, j'aime la composition de cette image, les couleurs vives et la brume sur le fond
COSTANTINO (47864) 2012-10-02 8:53
nice capture of all those people in typical
ethnic dresses,wonderful capture through
the fog,it looks wonderful like a scenery
from the movie destinated for Oscar...
greetings for your useful notes about
this largest ethnic minority group
kato (11148) 2012-10-03 0:44
You're capturing well this scene by a good composition and excellent tone/clarity, so it's interesting and impressive to see ethnic minority in Vietam. They are wearing unique/traditional clothes. And, the misty air draws out an additional good effect in this image.
Robert1969 (6758) 2012-10-03 1:14
This is a picture with a wonderfull atmosphere,
I like also the mysterious and attractive
background and it's also a picture that tells
a story. Like what Craig, Jan and perhaps more
people wrote: this is a picture with a
National Geographic quality.
Nard (6969) 2012-10-10 1:46
Splendid photo of the Black Hmong. I've watched a report on the TV 2 or 3 month ago and I was very interresting. Your picture is very well done in the TE spirit. I like the low light atmosphere, the misty BG and the touch of colors added by the clothes.
Angshu (53990) 2012-10-10 2:09
A fine note which merits a good read to appreciate the photo well. Nice portrait of the Black Hmong family with good spacing amongst the members, so that they create a good perspective & do not intermerge or hide behind as well. The mist & cloudy BG adds to the mood...Well done my friend!
aliabazari (10530) 2012-12-05 14:24
Hello dear friend
Well documented and remarkable life of the Vietnamese people. Good lighting and colors. Clearly seen.
Kamilutka (6789) 2012-12-23 9:22
There are some photos which appeal to us not only because of the technical valors, which are excellent in here, but for the content and spirit mostly. I love how you captured these two women with all the mixture of tradition and influence of modern life (for example the tartan umbrella).
The composition, POV and colors are very good.
All the best for Christmas!