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A Photographer's Quest to Document Vietnam's Provinces From Two Angles

Hanoi-based photographer Justin Mott has taken a unique approach to depicting Vietnam in his ongoing photo series.

In As Above So Below, Mott is working to photograph each of Vietnam's 58 provinces from two angles. 

"My hopes are to capture and showcase the beauty of Vietnam from a whole new perspective and format using diptychs that pair aerial photography with portraits, landscape images, and daily life images," he told Saigoneer in an email. "I simply want to capture what I find beautiful and inspiring about Vietnam from north to south in as many provinces as possible."

While Mott focuses on the ground-based images, a Vietnamese photographer named Nam Nguyen pilots the drone used for aerial shots.

This is far from Mott's only photography project, as he has also been involved in series focused on international animal conservation and the impacts of Agent Orange.

"I’m currently working on a global long-term personal project titled Kindred Guardians," he said. "For the project, I document people who dedicate their lives to helping animals. So far, I’ve photographed the caretakers of the last two remaining northern white rhinos in the world, a sloth rescue center in Suriname, a gibbon rehabilitation center in Malaysia, and few more and lots more coming."

Agent Orange, meanwhile, was the first topic Mott tackled in Vietnam: "I felt it was important to show the horrible effects of war, even decades after. It’s a project that stays with me and I still work with the Friendship Village in Hanoi and a local primary school in Hanoi to raise awareness about the effects of Agent Orange."

Mott also took a moment to consider the responsibility foreign photographers have when presenting their images of Vietnam overseas.

"I think every outsider should be concerned about how they portray a foreign country and their people and to always be fair, accurate and respectful, and unfortunately that doesn’t always happen," he shared. "As Above So Below is a visual poem of sorts and a gift to the people of Vietnam for making me feel so welcomed and for giving me so much through the years. I’ve always felt a debt of gratitude to this country and what I’m best at is photography so I want to create something people can use to appreciate and highlight all the beauty this country has to offer."

To that end, once As Above So Below is completed, Mott plans to undertake a traveling exhibition of the photos, and will also make them available for open-source use so that people promoting Vietnam can use the images for free.

Take a look at excerpts from As Above So Below:

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