Photographs by Dzung Yoko
Words by Phuong Huyen
Published on December 1, 2020
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We take a lens to the photographer’s thoughts to understand how he reconciles the seeming contradictions between tradition and modernity inherent in his images.
Dzung Yoko’s approach to fashion photography is more personal and artistic than commercial. “Using fashion photography as a narrative, I tell stories of my generation who were born after the war, and watched a poor and conservative Vietnam bloom into an economic powerhouse and a more open culture,” Dzung shares with optimism.
An architect by training, Dzung Yoko’s passion eventually gravitated toward fashion photography, which opened doors to the plum post of creative director of the local editions of ELLE and L’Officiel. “Through these highly-respected magazines, I try to capture and present the fascinating layers of my people’s viewpoint,” he explains.
“There’s certainly a strong aspiration to be a part of the global luxury consumer set. At the same time, I strive to reorient our readers to appreciate our roots through our ancestral tales and symbols.” Dzung finds no discord between global and local attitudes. He demonstrates that both can coexist by delicately balancing traditional beauty and contemporary stories in his photographs.
The concept of juxtaposing visual elements is carried over to Dzung’s artistic practice as well. “I’m known to sketch before I shoot. My signature art is thus the pairing of my drawings and photographs,” says the multi-skilled creative. From his first solo exhibition in 2015, he has since published five art books, which all depict the beauty of Vietnamese culture to elicit stirrings of pride among his audience. “Beyond reminding them about our heritage, I also hope the poetry of my photos resonate with my generation’s dreams, inner conflicts, pains, and desires.”
Further exploring the complexity of the human experience, he titled his next book Soulmate, to be released this December 2020. “Through this art book, I touch upon loneliness as part of our essence. However, it’s a type of solitude that rather than being painful is more of a contemplation of an individual’s morals, beliefs, and passions,” he elaborates.
With Soulmate, Dzung visually navigates the flow of the human consciousness. “Our mind always tries to expand, to define itself despite our personal contradictions. I guess we innately crave for assurance and understanding,” he explains profoundly. “For anyone looking for inner peace, accepting your conflicted self is the key.”
“Fashion photography is my work, but also my way to release creative energy and to heal my soul”, concludes the artist.