Lam Duc Hien Photographer
“The Mekong is in my blood. I was born on its banks and spent my boyhood there before crossing with my family into a refugee camp in Thailand and, from there, to asylum in France. Thoughts of the Mekong and its peoples have been with me all my life, often turbulent, sometimes serene – much like the river itself. Today, vast engineering projects in the name of progress are altering the river’s course and that of its denizens, for better and for worse.
These photos were taken in my pre-digital days, between 1999 and 2005. Someday, I hope to realise the dream of retracing that journey along the Mekong from Vietnam to Tibet, looking for all those vistas and faces I left behind and recording the changes wrought by time, humankind and the river itself.”
Lam Duc Hien was born in Paksé, Laos, in 1966. With the rise of the Pathet Lao, his family went into exile to neighbouring Thailand before eventually being granted asylum and settling in France. After studying languages at the University of Lyon and receiving a postgraduate degree with honours in visual arts from the School of Fine Arts Lyon, Hien found his calling: at the overthrow of Ceausescu, he joined a convoy to Romania with the aid organisation, EquiLibre. Someone handed him a camera. Hien remained with EquiLibre for five years, as a logistics coordinator and photographer.
Over the following decades, he has continued to work with humanitarian organisations including several programmes for UNESCO, and Médecins du Monde, for whom he undertook a two-year assignment documenting violence against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Pakistan, Moldova and Haiti. As a photojournalist, his work has appeared in numerous international publications including The New York Times Magazine, Le Monde, Libération, Géo, The Independent, Paris Match, and Newsweek.
Among many grants and awards, Hien has received the World Press Portrait First Prize and the Leica European Grand Prize from Vevey Images. His Mekong journey was recorded as a documentary (aired on France 5 Television) and was invited by the French Senate for a special public exhibit on the railings of the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris which was then extended by popular demand. These photos are currently on display at the French Institute for Culture in Hanoi.
Hien is based in Paris where he is represented by the Vu Agency. He is presently in Kurdistan.
2010 Médecins du Monde Diary/Victims of Violence Against Women/ pub. Chêne
2007 Le Mékong, histoires d’hommes (The Mekong, Stories of Man)/ pub. Chêne
2001 FACES/pub. Anako
1999 Enfance, enfances (Childhood, Childhoods)/pub. Liana Lévi.
Carnet de visites (Visitors Book)/pub. Editions Nathan/Photo Poche
Irak, Jardin des murmures (Iraq, Garden of Whispers)/pub. Anako
1993 Roumanie : des gamins du pavé (Romania: Cobblestone Kids)/pub. Anako