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Photographer Vo An Ninh, now 103 years old, lays practically motionless on a small mattress while his great grandchildren instant message friends on their computers. He looks like a small invalid child with an incredibly weathered face. But this man is one of the pioneering photographers of Vietnam, and he has seen more in his life than I can ever hope for...His photographs caught the essence of the Vietnamese people during the early years of photojournalism. His work during the French occupation and Vietnamese famines serve as historical records for the his nation. His access to Ho Chi Minh during war times as a photographer was impressive...In 1972, American b-52 bombers continuously hit Hanoi. Hanoians called this time the "Sleepless Nights". Despite government curfew orders during the air raids, many photographers stayed out to photograph. Vo An Ninh was one of those photographers. He was said to be very calm, riding a bicycle at a leisurely pace, with a helmet hanging from one handle bar and a canvas saddle bag on the other...His camera of choice, the Super Ikonta A - A Japanese 120 film rangefinder introduced in the 1950's. Many photographers offered him newer cameras but he would just laugh and ask, "Why would I use one of those when I have this one?"..For his contributions to photography in Vietnam, Vo An Ninh has been awarded the Anti-US Order, Second Class; the Labour Order, Second Class; the Independence Order, Third Class and most recently, the coveted Ho Chi Minh Award.
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