Coal! What do you know about coal? I did not know much, neither about photography when I traveled to the very north of Vietnam. All I knew was, that I wanted to become a photographer…
With my Canon 40D and my youthful recklessness I unleashed my creativity. Eventually I figured out that I forgot to work on a specific story, but it was already too late.
Nevertheless, I gained experience and this set of pictures, among others, helped me to get an internship as a photographer at Migros Magazin.
Around six years later and lots of experience richer I wanted to prove that I could do better.
My plan was to take lots of portraits of miners with my old Hasselblad and get access to a group of miners, which I could follow in their daily life. The miners sure liked my presence there. We had a blast drinking beer at 6 in the morning after their shift ended and it did not take long to convince them to let me take their portrait. Luck seemed to be on my side!
The real challange however was, getting access to the working area. With my translator I went from guard to guard and asked if they’d let me in – it turned out that nobody would! To make matters worse, police paid us a visit and made us understand that this place is not a tourist area and taking pictures here is strictly prohibited. If we’re still here by the next morning, they would have to take actions. The only way we would be allowed to stay longer is with a permission from a coal company.
In the short time they left us, we tried to explain why we are here and what I would like to photograph. Only one company granted us permission and in the end I had about an hour to take pictures inside a working area.