Azerai Can Tho – Hoping for a Sunset
Can tho is a hub city located in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Not really known for its resorts and more for its hub of all things produced in the delta. It is an interesting location for a resort. Azerai plans to change that. Located on a small privately owned island near the center of the city right on the river. The resort is a little oasis in the center of a bustling delta metropolis. My original assignment was to create stunning architectural shots with epic sunrises and sunsets to be used as backdrops for the advertising billboards the resort was planning to create. There was only one problem. We were shooting right at the beginning of the rainy season. Which meant cloudy sunrises, bouts of torrential rain every day, and even cloudier sunsets. After four 4am start times (the sun rises early in the delta) I had some nice images. But nothing with the epic colours we were looking for. On the final day, everything changed. The sky had been cloudy all day from early morning. But right at sunset the clouds on the horizon lifted and the sky was on fire. Bright orange and red hues settled into subtle pinks and purples. I had to choose my locations quickly and set up even faster. To make things just a little more difficult, We were shooting at the same time as a video production crew who had happened to be set up in the pool for a shot. So that killed the pool shot right off the bat. In the end I managed to get some gorgeous shots of the pond villas before the speedy sunset slipped away to dark. Talk about luck. Fast forward 10 months to April 2019 and we are back at the Azerai to shoot the space in its entirety, this time properly. While we didn’t need the pool bar and other areas as we managed to get some great shots from our first visit. This time we were focused on the rooms and the villas. With the help of the GM and Assistant GM we pulled off what I think showcases the luxury and grandeur of the space, as well as the more intimate aspects of the property. All in all it is a good exercise to come back to a space and photograph it a second time. Gives you an opportunity to see it in a different light. Pun totally intended.
Radisson Phu Quoc – The Challenge of the Unfinished space
The Radisson Phu Quoc was a very interesting project. Not only were we photographing the property in the height of the rainy season in that part of Vietnam. The hotel itself was also not completely ready to be handed over to the client. Not that there were large areas still under construction. The hotel was finished. But there were small areas that were not 100% that made it a difficult shoot. Lights in some rooms would not work, Or small areas of patio were incomplete. However, the show must go on. The team was outstanding and helped in every way possible to make the property look like it was ready to go and the weather, for the most part, gave us some brief periods of sun to let me get some really pretty beach and drone shots. Well done Radisson Phu Quoc!
Apo Whang Od – The story of a tattooing Tradition
Apo Whang Od is a Philippine national treasure. A member of the Kalinga tribe in northern Luzon she is close to 100 years old and one of the last traditional tattoo artists in the Philippines. While there are others, out of respect for her they do not practice. She lives in the tiny village of Buscalan in northern Luzon. While her village is small, it has become somewhat of a pilgrimage for people in the tattoo community. I had the chance to visit her in 2014. This series is a set I photographed (and had some help being photographed as I was getting a tattoo by her) At the moment she is still tattooing and slowly passing her knowledge on to her grand niece Grace. No one knows how long she will continue working, But judging by how spry she was when I went to visit I can image she will be going for quite a while longer.
A taste of Interior Design
Working on new projects is always fun. Especially when after a long wait you get to see the fruits of your labours. For the Ascott Residences in Ho Chi Minh City I had the chance to provide the artwork for the design team fitting out the rooms at this fancy new digs. In this case, the photos I provided were used not only as photos on the wall, but also as design elements within the rooms. Giving them a different sort of depth to what could have been blank spaces. Even though it took more than a year to complete, its nice to be able to see what your work looks like once its been placed in the hands of talented designers.
Villa Royal Treasures- A Passion Project
It is always a getting a call to work with someone who has a passion for things. David at Villa Royal Treasures is just such a person. With a passion for antiques and a set of master taste buds, the man has created a unique space in Saigon. You can see and feel his passion for what he does in every corner of both locations of Villa Royal. I am personally a fan of the downtown location located in an old apartment building. For this project I was asked to make both interior design photographs of the newly opened down town space. As well as some beautiful food photos that gave the feeling of Villa Royal. I think anyone that visits Saigon should have a quick stop in at Villa Royal
Salinda Resort on Phu Quoc Island in the south of Vietnam is a beautiful property. Facing the sunset it offers beautiful views of the ocean. When we received the call to come photograph the resort we were very excited. A combination of interior design and lifestyle images, it was a challenging shoot. But Both myself and the client were quite pleased with the results.
Clubhouse Pictures – A Branding Story
Clubhouse Films, A new company started by old friends. it was a nice story. The branding company Rice Creative was looking to do a play on the company name for the branding of the business cards. A lot of ideas were thrown around and thrown out. In the end it was decided that the style would look like old Topps “tall boy” baseball cards (an easy match since regular business cards have almost exactly the same dimensions. I proposed to do the shoot on film as that was and still is, the best way to get the “film look” in anything. Shooting some sports like photos all in manual focus is not easy. But it does give it that feel of older sports photos. A lot of them were posed for a reason. All in all a really fun project and a nice test of mental skills to make film shots happen for a client. You can check out both Clubhouse and Rice Creative by hopping over to their websites that are linked in the names.
The Reverie Saigon, An exercise in Opulence
The Reverie Saigon is without a doubt, Vietnam’s most opulent property. It took years to construct and no expense was spared in its design and construction. The interior moves from mosaic tiles and designs on the walls of rooms around the hotel to lush carpets and mirrored walls. Along side that you have marble, everywhere and a specially designed clock in emerald green sitting in the lobby. I was lucky enough to have a year long contract working with the property, photographing every corner of it in an ongoing series. We did everything from hang off the 40 story roof to photograph the pool to spending hours in the suites to get the right time of day for the best shot of the view. if you have a chance, I recommend having a look.
Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers
The Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers are a central hotel location in the middle of downtown Saigon. They have been around for quite some time now and recently contacted me to update some of their photos as they had just completed renovations. Mainly to the lobby area and restaurant as well as the residences entrance. The staff here were, again, fantastic to work with and went out of their way to help make the shoot a success.
Food as Art
Not long ago I wanted to try some conceptual food photography. It was partly in response to the awards and contest season that comes around regularly and partly because I felt the desire to create something outside of the standard fare I was making for clients. I contacted the talented team of Chefs at the Park Hyatt Saigon to cook up some interesting creations and we would photograph them. Unlike previous work for the Hyatt I was not bound by corporate edict and could create the photos as I saw fit for each dish. It was a fun afternoon making art with the talented people at the hotel. These are the results.
Sofitel Phokeethra Phnom Penh & Siem Reap – Heritage and Modernity
Sofitel Phokeethra Phnom Penh and its sister property in Siem Reap are beautiful hotels. It was a pleasure being able to photograph them. The stiles of both hotels are modern and at the same time, classic Indochine. . The Sofitel Phokeethra Phnom Penh sits just outside of the main center of the city. the beautiful touches on the lobby bar and the sprawling lobby itself give it a style that feels more like the hotel has been there since the heyday of the French in Indochina. Phokeethra Siem Reap is a much more intimate property. Set in the middle of lush landscaping and natural ponds and jungle like features around it. Both had their challenges to photograph. Trying to showcase the different yet similar styles of the hotels and keep them consistent with each other from a visual perspective was a lot of fun.
The Expat Project
The Expat Project is a series of portraits I created to showcase the diversity and differences of long term expatriates. While the term bothers a few of the old guard it has evolved to mean something different over the years. Each person in the project has a unique story about who they are, where they come from, how they got here and how they got to where they are. I created a book with the resulting portraits that showcases these interesting people and their quotes that simply describe life overseas in their own eyes. There is an article or two written about it and you can find one here – http://vietcetera.com/fred-wissink-expats-in-vietnam/
Toyota TRD Pro – The Phan Brothers
The TRD Pro Challenge was and is to date. One of my most challenging assignments. But also the most fun and rewarding. The original team drove 3 Toyota trucks from Saigon to Hanoi through all the worst terrain they could find. It made for an excellent video which you can find right here – https://www.gullutube.pk/watch/nguQ4cETbXo My task was to follow along with the journalists sent to cover the drive from Hanoi to Saigon. It was an epic 10 day trek. But the real story that came out of the trip was the Phan brothers. The original offroaders of Vietnam. There are several links to the stories written about them in the media section of my site. If you are interested in their stories I suggest you hop over and have a look.
The Sanctuary – Ho Tram
Not all jobs are the same. I do shoot a lot of architecture and design work but this was a little different. Not only was I asked to photograph the brand new villas at the beautifully designed Sanctuary Resort in Ho Tram, I was also asked to add to the decor. In each room I worked with the designer to add photographs of street scenes from around Vietnam. Done all in beautiful Black and White prints. The images offer a nice contrast to the subdued tones used by the designer to fill the spaces.
Eyes – An Experiment in Beauty and Shape
While having some fun in the home studio one night we came up with an interesting little concept.” Eyes are the window to the soul” so they say. So we thought, Why not focus there. Wrapping the cloth was used to accentuate and draw full focus to the eyes of the beautiful women who were kind enough to let us photograph them.