I was born in 1949 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Both my elder brothers were students at film school and I also studied at this school from 1972 to 1976.
After graduation, I worked as a cinematographer in one of the largest movie centres in Vietnam and was director of photography for over 40 feature films. When shooting a film, we were often in the countryside for several weeks. I came to understand that our film scenarios were very different from the reality of village life. I felt I could not shoot a film which could reflect that different reality but thought about my still camera and decided I would like to take photographs showing the real life of the countryside.
In 1994, my private picture exhibition called ‘Village Passer-by’ opened and eventually there was a book of the same name. Since then this has been my consistent subject: nearly 80 per cent of Vietnamese people live in the countryside and their matters are still the most important.
This picture, ‘15,000 dong (1 US dollar) per day’, was taken for my latest exhibition ‘30 kilometres from Hanoi’. I photographed country women working in a brick kiln. In Vietnam, women doing this kind of hard labour are still considered to be sub-labourers. Taking the photograph from above, where I could only see their hats, I wanted to reflect how women are regarded in this society: they are considered as objects and not as human beings.