Mood of the moment

A solo exhibition at Pullman Vung Tau features photographs taken solely on a smartphone.

By Minh Minh on June 15,2018 10:19 AM

Mood of the moment

Photos: Stephane Bahler

When the curtains were pulled back on the opening night of a solo photo exhibition by Swiss photographer Stephane Bahler at the Pullman Vung Tau, the vast skies, romantic corners of Hoi An, and the change in light in HCMC all caught the attention of the audience.

Entitled ‘All is One’, the solo exhibition is the first organised by Pullman Vung Tau in its ‘Artist Playground by Pullman’ program. Held by Pullman Hotels & Resorts since 2016, the program is aimed at a new generation of travellers who are the living embodiment of its ‘Our World Is Your Playground’ philosophy, where a hotel is not just a place to sleep and eat but also a stimulating and inspiring environment for the local community and any travellers in town.

Stephane’s photos represent his daily vision inspired by life in Vietnam. They capture moments that caught his eye, with strong scenes of emotion and without any stilted thoughts. ‘All is One’, he said, represents the freedom of the spirit without boundaries, which brings positive emotions to the audience. His photos are presented as a triptych, to show the connection between each object in the photo. The meaning follows Buddhism and scientism theory as ‘all is one’, as everything around us is connected.

One special thing is that the photos being exhibited were taken on his smartphone. ‘I usually shoot photos and capture moments with the phone I have in my pocket,’ he said. ‘I create abstractions of sharpness and absolute quality to inspire emotion, spontaneity and poetry. The result is just pure emotion and translates the mood of the moment: dreaming, determinate, or peaceful … all ranges of human emotions.’

Mood of the moment

At the opening ceremony, I was also impressed by black & white photos in which Stephane focused on the details in objects, such as cats’ eyes, ceiling lamps, glasses and spoons, which encouraged me to look closely and carefully for some deeper idea.

Stephane has expressed his love of photography since the age of 16 and graduated from the Swiss national photography school of Lausanne. In 1989 he began working for advertising companies and magazines in Switzerland. In 2004 he moved to Vietnam to begin anew and opened his first studio - BH-Studio - with Henry Hubert, a retail model and art director working in HCMC. In 2006 he opened his own studio - SB Studio. He has cooperated with top fashion magazines, hotels and resorts, and advertising campaigns. ‘As an advertising and hotel photographer with a fashion background, I focus on absolute quality with the latest camera technology and equipment in order to provide my clients with the best quality photos,’ he said, ‘During my spare time, however, I can’t stop taking photos, but I do it in a totally different way, the way I like, free of constraint and pressure.’

He has taken thousands of photos during his travels around Vietnam and ‘All is One’ is a selection of 18 photo sets with different subjects in colour and black & white. I really liked the colours in ‘Magic Sunset’, which Stephane said ‘are like impermanent things that are not easily seen. You need a soul, not just the eyes, to see beauty in this world. And sunset is one impermanent beauty.’ In ‘Vietnam Romance’, he took three black & white photos showing Hoi An ancient town, where he fell in love with its charm and where he feels the old stones carry so many stories. In ‘Time Journey’, he took a train and travelled on old vehicles to witness many stories, dramas, and happiness.

The exhibition will be open to the public from May to October at Pullman Vung Tau. Ten per cent of any photo sales will go to ‘Room to Read’, a non-profit organisation focusing on girls’ education and children’s literacy in Asia and Africa.

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