Réhahn has now photographed 53 of the country’s 54 tribes, and is currently working to secure permits to visit the final tribe and complete his Precious Heritage project, as well as looking ahead to working in other countries, with Bhutan and Mongolia topping his To Do list.
He often spends time trying to track down people he previously photographed so he can thank them. “As long as we’re doing business with these photos, either sales of prints, for magazines or photo tours, giving something back should be done automatically. It’s not always easy to find people. Sometimes I spend days looking for subjects that I met two or three years ago along a road in the north of Vietnam, without success. Many photographers are making money and argue that giving money to people is getting them used to ask for things. This could be true, but many hide behind this excuse to never give anything.”
In this aspect of his work, as well as creatively, Réhahn has been inspired by famous National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry. “I remember seeing that Steve McCurry had funded a house for the green-eyed Afghan Girl and I know a few colleagues who support NGOs in the countries where they work. Of course, it’s everyone’s personal choice,” he concludes. “Personally, I believe in karma and I think that it isn’t fair to make a living selling photos without helping the people that I spend time with. Without them, there wouldn’t be any photos.”
All images credit Réhahn.
See more of Réhahn's work and discover his Ageless Beauty series.
Read our interview with Graeme Green and discover more of his work.
For more on Réhahn’s Precious Heritage projects, his museums or for prints of his work, visit rehahnphotographer.com. Réhahn’s books include Vietnam: Mosaic of Contrasts (Vol 1 and 2) and The Collection: 10 years of photography. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram.
Graeme Green is a UK journalist and photographer. See graeme-green.com. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram.