“Karma – The sum of a person’s actions in this and in previous states of existence…Viewed as
deciding their fate in future existences.” In other words: “what goes around comes around” –
Going full circle
This word and its meaning, carry special weight in Réhahn’s journey as a photographer.
What starts as a smile and a click of a camera, leads to the communication of souls.
The birth of the “Giving Back Project”
The Openning Of The Circle
It all started with Mrs. Bui Thi Xong, a 74 year old lady who features on the cover of Réhahn’s first successful book called “Vietnam, Mosaic of contrasts” and later she features in a different project called “Hidden smile”Madam Xong, as she’s respectfully called by Réhahn, has since become the most famous woman in Vietnam, featuring in more than two hundred published articles worldwide.Her face is now the most recognized face in Vietnam and in some parts of the world.
This iconic photo also features in The Vietnamese Women’s Museum, representing the strength, kindness and hard work of the women of Vietnam.
Their special story started in the summer of 2011 in Hoi An, central Vietnam. At this time, Réhahn was a tourist with a keen interest in Vietnam. During his photographic explorations, he met this lovely old lady while walking along the riverside and, instinctively drawn to her, hopped onto her boat. He asked her if he could take her portrait. With a shy response, she awkwardly obliged and after seeing her own photo, started giggling and covered her smile with one hand. This action inspired Réhahn to take another picture of her in this pose and then she covered her mouth with one hand and her forehead with the other. Framing her eyes to do the smiling, the birth of the “Hidden smile” project began.
At that moment neither of them realized that this photo would later become one of the most iconic photos in Vietnam and now the world.
Madam Xong and Réhahn at the Women’s Museum (Hanoi 2016)
“Vietnam, Mosaic of contrasts Book” – Best seller 2014
Choosing this photo as the cover of his book “Vietnam, Mosaic of contrasts” came without hesitation to Réhahn. To him this image is a powerful representation of the Vietnamese spirit: Feeling the joy of life despite old age and adversity. This is a friendly reminder to all of us that there’s something to be grateful for in every day.
Réhahn believes photos are like time capsules. Each one filled with moments, a story of our lives captured and sealed in time. As a photographic storyteller he sees every line in the face as a map that tells our life story. We all have so many stories to share and often the most interesting stories are hidden in a culture in the remotest part of the world. Réhahn aims to tell these stories through his lens.
The personal joy he receives in ‘giving back’ has touched his heart in a profound way. He’s made it his mission to start the first wave in the ‘giving back’ movement. His hope is to inspire other photographers to do the same.