Project info

I live in London, where life seems perpetually hectic. I am not on first name terms with any of my neighbours and eye contact with a stranger is considered to be a dangerous sport by most.

When I travel, I like to document local people in their everyday home or working environments, away from the tourist bustle. In countries like Vietnam, people spend a lot of time outdoors, talking to friends and neighbours as they go about their business, or simply watching the world go by. Despite my instinctive shyness in such situations, I am constantly struck by how easy it is to elicit a smile, strike up a conversation and be given permission to shoot a portrait. When I look back on my pictures, it is the nature of the exchange with that person that I remember most vividly, what gestures they used, whether we made each other laugh, how tactile they were.

The image selected by the LensCulture judges was taken in Hòn Rớ, a busy fishing port in Nha Trang. I visited the port later in the morning, after the hectic trading period, and was introduced to a small group of women, quietly and methodically mending what seemed like acres of fishing net. I climbed some nearby steps so that I could fill the frame and surround my subject, Nga, in a sea of colour and texture for both visual and symbolic effect.