Biography of Réhahn 2019-08-24T08:44:05+01:00

BIOGRAPHY

Referred to as someone who “captures the souls of his models”, (Wanderlust Travel Magazine, 2018) Réhahn is more than just a man behind a camera. Behind each click is a story. Whether the photograph shows a child with startling blue eyes, a woman pulling a needle through indigo fabric or a man walking alone down a brightly painted street, these are more than just images to Réhahn. They are the culmination of an experience. The stories of his subjects as well as his passion to learn more about their culture, diversity and changing traditions are what drives Réhahn’s work.

Réhahn’s unique combination of fine art photography and documentary styles results in images that both inform and mesmerize. His portraits of Vietnam, Cuba, and India are particularly well-known for exactly this reason. They take the viewer along on the voyage to catch a glimpse of authentic interactions with people, their smiles, their wisdom, their daily lives. For Réhahn, photography is a way to approach people, to document what is happening in the present while also learning about the traditions and heritage of their past.

Réhahn visited over 35 countries before making Hoi An, Vietnam his home in 2011. His first book “Vietnam, Mosaic of Contrasts” has been a bestseller since 2014. He followed this success with two subsequent books: “Vietnam, Mosaic of Contrasts Vol ll” in 2015, and “The Collection, Réhahn – 10 years of Photography” in 2017.

In 2016, for International Women’s day, Réhahn’s portrait of Madam Xong was placed in the permanent collection at the Hanoi Women’s museum. The resulting media coverage amassed more than 80 articles and 10 television interviews.

To date, Réhahn has been featured in international media totalling more than 500 articles and interviews and over 50 television appearances. Some highlights include features in esteemed publications such as The New York Times, BBC, National Geographic, South China Morning Post, and Der Spiegel.

One memorable career moment took place in 2018.  Réhahn was honored during an official ceremony, which was organized to celebrate 45 years of friendship between France and Vietnam. Vietnam’s Secretary of the Party, Nguyen Phu Trong, who has since become the President of Vietnam, gifted Réhahn’s portrait “Madam Xong” to French President Emmanuel Macron.

Réhahn’s fine art photography collections are exhibited at his four COULEURS BY RÉHAHN galleries. Two are located in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hoi An ancient town and two are in Saigon, one on the historic Dong Khoi street and the second in the InterContinental Saigon hotel.

In addition to his galleries, Réhahn opened the PRECIOUS HERITAGE museum in 2017. It is the only exhibition in the world to showcase information, portraits, traditional costumes and artifacts of all 54 officially recognized ethnic groups in Vietnam, in addition to numerous subgroups. The museum is free to the public.

The Precious Heritage Project

It is impossible to travel through Vietnam without bearing witness to the complicated history of the country. From the various outside influences that have made their way into the country’s architecture and cuisine to the traditions and ways of life that are so decidedly unique to each region.

The first time Réhahn journeyed to the Northern hill regions near Sapa, he was expecting to take photos of singular cascading landscapes but instead he found himself drawn to the people who live there. First, he met the Red Dao and the H’Mông tribes and was impressed by the beauty of their craftsmanship and the diversity of their culture. These early photos inspired the photographer to try to acquire more knowledge about other groups in Vietnam, and he was surprised to learn that far beyond the few tribes that are commonly listed in tourism brochures there are actually 54 succinct ethnic groups, many with little or no information available to the public.

For close to nine years, from tribe to tribe, photograph to photograph, Réhahn traversed hundreds of miles throughout Vietnam, taking his motorbike into places that are difficult to access. He witnessed firsthand the complex diversity of these groups as well as their strong traditions in embroidery, fabric tinting, music and the arts. The Precious Heritage project began as a way to document and share the cultural heritage and stories of each group as well as to preserve an example of their varied traditional costumes.

In August 2019, Réhahn met the Chut tribe, completing his goal of documenting all 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam. Despite having finished the Precious Heritage project, Réhahn continues his mission to seek more information about undocumented subgroups in order to spread awareness about the diverse cultural identities of the people living in Vietnam.

The portraits and heritage objects can be viewed at the Precious Heritage Museum in Hoi An; entrance is free to the public.

It’s important to note that this project isn’t about recording facts and figures nor does Réhahn consider himself to be an ethnologist. Réhahn seeks to honor the living history of the people he meets through his art as well as creating, for the first time, a single location where the stories, photographs and traditional costumes of all 54 tribes are represented.

Each trip is a journey into generational wisdom and the value of heritage.

These groups, with their exceptionally contrasting cultures, share their stories, traditions, artisan skills and smiles with him. He is grateful for the opportunity to enter into the lives of the people he meets, however briefly.

The collection in the Precious Heritage museum located in the ancient town of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, consists of over 100 photographs, 62 traditional wardrobe ensembles and spans 5 rooms and 500sqm. Most of the costumes were given to Réhahn by the chief of each village. The museum is completely free to the public as a way to honor and share that gift.

Important Dates

January 2014
Réhahn publishes his first book, “Vietnam, Mosaic of Contrasts”, a collection of 150 photographs depicting the country’s diversity. A bestseller in Vietnam, the book is sold in 29 other countries as well.

October 2014

Réhahn captured the photo “Best Friends”, which shows a 6-year-old M’nong girl praying to an elephant. Thanks to the press agency Caters in New York, it was published in more than 25 countries and was featured on the cover of prestigious magazines such as Condé Nast Traveler, The Times and National Geographic, among others.

December 2014

Bored Panda, one of the world’s most visited websites, ranked Réhahn in the top 5 most celebrated portrait and travel photographers worldwide. The article went viral and has since been translated into over 20 languages.

May 2015

Following the exhibition Valiosa Herencia (“Precious Heritage”), the photographs “Best Friends” and “Hidden Smile” became part of the permanent collection at The Asian House Museum in Havana, Cuba. Cuba remains one of Réhahn’s favorite countries to visit and draw inspiration from.

October 2015

The last copy of “Best Friends” (1 x 1.5 m) sold for $17,000 USD to a collector from Amsterdam making it the most expensive photograph ever sold in Vietnam (Forbes Vietnam).

November 2015

The second volume of “Vietnam, Mosaic of Contrasts, Volume II” is met with great success. More than 500 copies are sold within the first month.

January 2016

Réhahn was ranked the second most popular French photographer on the web by the photography website, XXLPix.net.

March 2016

The photo “Hidden Smile” officially entered the permanent collection of the Vietnamese Women’s Museum in Hanoi in the presence of Madame Xong, the 78-year-old model of the photo.

June 2016

“Échappées Belles”, a popular French travel program on France 5 network,  followed along with Réhahn on a photographic voyage and introduced his work to his home nation. This marked an important step in his career; his work has since become highly sought after amongst French and European Fine Art collectors.

January 2017

The Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum in Hoi An in Central Vietnam officially opened. More than 100 photographs of Vietnam’s ethnic groups and more than 62 original traditional costumes are displayed.

June 2017

COULEURS BY RÉHAHN, Fine Art Photography Gallery, was opened on Dong Khoi Street in Ho Chi Minh City.

December 2017

Louis Vuitton acquired 3 Limited Edition Original photographs for Louis Vuitton Ho Chi Minh store.

March 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron was presented with the portrait of Madam Xong, known as “Hidden Smile” by Vietnam’s Secretary of the Party, Nguyen Phu Trong, who has since become President of Vietnam, to commemorate 45 years of Friendship between France and Vietnam.

March 2018

Awarded the 2018 Trophy for French Nationals Abroad by the French information website “lepetitjournal.com.” Réhahn accepted the trophy in Paris at the Quai d’Orsay surrounded by 300 dignitaries including M.Nguyen Thiep, the Ambassador for Vietnam in France.

August 2019

Completed the primary goal of the Precious Heritage project by meeting and documenting all 54 officially recognized ethnic groups in Vietnam.

Sign up for ous newsletter


Share