TIME Magazine Hero of the Environment 2008: Vo Quy

I had a really fun portrait assignment with TIME Magazine last week. They were doing their environmental heroes issue, and Hannah Beech had written about Vo Quy, a gentle, good-humoured 79 year-old ornithologist and a strong voice for environmental awareness in a country that has seen incredible urban and industrial growth in the past two decades, often at the cost of its unique ecosystem.

Mr. Quy has had the same office space at the former Universite l’Indochine for over 50 years, and I was looking forward to taking pictures in a cluttered, musty room with books stacked high from the floor, with the perhaps a stuffed osprey or egret hanging around for a little color. The office was perfect, but there was a block-wide blackout the day of the shoot, and so no electricity for the portable strobes I brought. Also, all the taxidermied animals were locked in a small museum next to his office, and this was closed, since the caretakers had decided no electricity meant no need to continue working for the day. With a deadline looming, we had no choice but to shoot without lights, and I was reasonably pleased with our results, mostly due to the fact that Quy’s easygoing demenour made him a great subject to shoot, and a fun and wise man to talk with for a few hours. His stories about exploring and researching Vietnam’s fabled forests would make a great memoir – as I was shooting he told me about his experience walking large parts of the Ho Chi Minh trail after the war to study the effects of Agent Orange on the wildlife.

Meeting Vo Quy was a real honour, and a reminder that often the greatest perk of this line of work is simply  the people you meet.

You can view the TIME article here.

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~ by Julian Abram Wainwright on September 28, 2008.

2 Responses to “TIME Magazine Hero of the Environment 2008: Vo Quy”

  1. […] TIME Magazine Hero of the Environment 2008: Vo QuyHis stories about exploring and researching Vietnam’s fabled forests would make a great memoir – as I was shooting he told me about his experience walking large parts of the Ho Chi Minh trail after the war to study the effects of Agent … […]

  2. […] time magazine hero of the environment 2008: vo quyhis stories about exploring and researching vietnam’s fabled forests would make a great memoir – as i was shooting he told me about his experience walking large parts of the ho chi minh trail after the war to study the effects of agent … […]

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