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Children of Sapa



Sapa, in Northern Vietnam near the Chinese border, differs from the rest of the country because of its mountainous character and its diverse ethnic background. Home to many tribes such as H’mong and Dzao, which migrated from China centuries ago, those picturesque highlands offer spectacular views of rice terraces...

We were trekking under the rain on a muddy road near Sapa when we saw an old lady at the entrance of a wooden house. Our guide asked for a permission to get inside. It was pretty dark there, -possibly- the daughter of the old lady was weaving a cotton bag, under the light of the only electric lamp of the house. The older child, her daughter was crying, we didn't know why. We gave her a pen and some candies to calm her down. After then, I had an opportunity to take some pictures.
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AfricanObserver's avatar
:star::star::star::star::star: Overall
:star::star::star::star::star: Vision
:star::star::star::star::star: Originality
:star::star::star::star::star: Technique
:star::star::star::star::star: Impact

This is a truly haunting image.

The intense tear-stained stare and rather vacant, out-of-focus open-eyed, open-mouthed little brother stand in tension. It's as if something terrible had happened. I'm glad of your description which dispels big disasters that adults might know and care about. But it seems there was a disaster in their world, no less traumatic.

As a photograph, technically great execution. The saturation and contrast drive this home, making great use of classical window side light. Personally, I think it is the finest lighting for portraits, bar none.
Compositionally, the left-right balance is strong, but inverted - I would expect the large image on the right. But this way contributes to the haunting, off-balance message. Very classical thirds, in an unusual configuration.

But the standout driver here is the use of depth of field. Pinsharp on the tears and the rubbed-red skin, with just the right amount of focus on her brother - we are aware of him, but he is clearly secondary in this story.

This is as good as it gets in recording life and emotions. Well done.