REQUIEM: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina

Last year’s Month of Photography Asia 2010 featured Mattias Klum who shot in jungles not that different than the jungle and terrain that the photographers of the Vietnam war and Indochina conflict. The big difference, in the jungle of Borneo Mattias fought with nature and the elements with 21st century equipment. For the 135 photographers missing and featured in Requiem they fought a mysterious foe and the jungle elements. Many did not make it back but what they left behind are split second instances captured on film that will be remembered forever.

I took the opportunity to relish in the photo taking by putting myself in the shoes of that era photographer. I donned my recently acquired used Nikkormat FT 35mm film camera and a roll of black & white 36 exposure film (Kodak Tri-X ASA400). No flash gun no fancy light meters and no additional support. I did have some artillery support by way of my 10 frames per second Canon 1DMk3. I needed to make sure that if my film taking wasn’t up to spec I’d at least have some digital shots. I’m happy to say that my photo taking skills with the manual camera is not that bad. Take a look at the scans from my Canon MP996 multi-function printer/scanner (I won this in the Canon PhotoMarathon 2010 contest and it is finally getting put to good use).

Listening to Tim Page speak about his ordeal in the field and even relate the stories of the photos and the photographer I wondered to myself if there were ever another World War or a conflict that asked me to wield a camera to record the events, would I do it? *ponders some more* Well, Tim did help answer the question and said, “No photo is worth dying for”. However, here is proof that 135 photographers died to make these lasting memories. Why did they do it – conscription or passion? In the day of digital, is it worth dying for the 21-megapixel image? That begs to question, would digital as a medium survive in a jungle conflict like Vietnam? That would be an interesting evaluation for the photojournalists (maybe they still carry a film camera?) that are now deployed in war torn Afghanistan.

Tim by the way is now sporting a digital Leica as you can see I snuck a few of him as he was composing in his viewfinder.

This space intentionally left blank . . . hahaha I just didn’t have any more portrait orientation photos to place here. :)

Let us not forget Singapore’s contribution to this documentary effort. Three Singaporeans died, Mr Charlie Chellappah, Mr Sam Kai Faye and Mr Terence Khoo.


Exhibit Details

Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) Galleries 1 and 2
80 Bencoolen Street, Singapore 189655

Multi-storey car park and street parking available
Nearest MRT: Bugis, Bras Basah, City Hall

Exhibition open daily from 11am to 7pm, from 13 Jul 2011 till 21 August 2011


Editors Note:  I’ll tag digital colour images in an album in a few days. You’ll find the feeling of the story is quite different after seeing the colour shots. Let me know if you thought (felt) this as well. Stay tuned…


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