Arts • 09 Feb, 2016
INSTA ELITE @AGE.13
A Soulful Gallery
Huỳnh Kế Minh Tân, owner of Heritage cafe, is a curious wanderer. He has travelled to all the far corners of Saigon and taken portraits of the different people he’s met along the way. Tân is keen on learning the stories of his subjects, most of whom are working-class people and many of whom he now also calls friends. Perhaps it’s this ability which gives Tân’s photos the soulful, compassionate and rich emotional feel they possess.
Tân’s Instagram feed is more like a heart-warming gallery of all walks of life, revolving around the ordinary people and the ordinary moments he stumbles into.
We had a chat with Huỳnh Kế Minh Tân about his situation, photos and how he uses Instagram to tell the tale of the people he meets.
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How would you describe your style/art?
My Instagram feed is a monochrome world filled with Black, White and 50 shades of Gray that reflect my inner self. I think one’s photographs are representations of a part of his or her soul.
How did you get into the habit of taking photos and posting on Instagram?
I can’t remember when, but at the time I came across many unprivileged and struggling people. I had no power to help them, but I wanted to do something for them. So I started taking portraits of them, learning their stories and the things they wanted to do in life, which were ordinary but meaningful to them.
Whenever I can, I try to help them make their dreams come true. I named my photographic series “I dream”, which tells the tale of the ordinary dreams of the ordinary working people that you see everyday on Saigon’s bustling streets.
How do you use Instagram to express yourself and the world around you?
I take photos that speak the truth of real people and real moments, which I’m lucky to have come across and been a part of. The world in my Instagram is the real world without “make-up”, which is not always rosy, but everyday is meaningful and should be appreciated.
Do you always feel inspired and ready to post every day?
I don’t. I usually only post when I’m feeling blue.
Do you spend a lot of time on the curation of your images or do you just put photos straight out there?
I curate to some degree to maintain a strict Black and White gallery, with a very few coloured photographs in between.
What defines a great Instagram feed in your opinion?
For me, I’m particularly captured by a feed that can make viewers ‘see’ the vivid happiness or sorrows of the subjects and/or the photographer. I am not interested in bland, emotionless IGs like those hotgirl Instagrams.
What do you hope viewers get from your photos/images?
I hope they realise that everything is not what is looks like; it is worthwhile to take a moment to “look’ past the surface, the facade of other people. And sometimes life is grey, but as you can see from my black and white portraits, in those eyes there are always tenacity and hope.
Who are some of your favourite people to follow on Instagram?
I am a faithful follower of my dear friend @thienminh1990, and also @lee_jeffries. Sometimes I am subconsciously influenced by the art of those who I admire. Such influences fuse with my own ‘Self.’
What can we expect to see on your Instgram in the future?
I will continue to do what I’m doing. For me, art, or photography, is only meaningful when it serves a purpose. I have helped many unprivileged people and helped them to receive the support they need. In the future, I will keep training myself, both as a photographer and as a person, and maybe work for a socially-responsible organisation.
Photo Credit: Huỳnh Kế Minh Tân's IG