Phan Thi Thuy Vy (1992) and Dang Thi Bich Bay (1992), both students, relax and watch television at the end of the day in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam on 22 June 2012. They have been together for a year. Even though many people seem to be open about homosexuality in Vietnam, it turned out to be untrue when I showed many of them photographs of homosexual couples in intimate moments. Most of them found the photos disgusting and unacceptable. This reaction was a source of inspiration to me. My goal was to make photos about homosexuals that incite feelings of romantic love that is natural and beautiful. I chose to capture casual daily activities of the couples that can be familiar to anyone. By doing so, I hope to make the audience become interested, then gradually empathise with homosexual people.
After studying sociology at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi, Maika Elan started to take pictures of her daily and private life in 2006. From 2008, she turned professional, and soon started various collaborations for editorial clients and fashion firms in Vietnam.
In 2010, she switched to documentary photography and her first project, The Pink Choice, which focused on personal life of gay couples in Vietnam, has been published in many magazines, print and online, in USA, UK, Germany, Italy, Romania, Spain, China, India and Brazil.
Maika was double-awarded for the Best Photo Essay and the Best Single Photo in by Indochina Media Memorial Foundation in 2010. And in 2012, The Pink Choice was a finalist at Asian Women Photographers.
In 2013, The Pink Choice won 1st prize stories, Contemporary Issues, at World Press Photo and 1st prize documentary story at Pride Photo Award 2013.
Maika participated in the 2013 Joop Swart Masterclass in Amsterdam, and was selected for the VII Mentor program from 2014 to 2016. She also honored in the Forbes Vietnam 30under30 list in 2014.
In 2017, she was one of the six selected talents of the first 6×6 Global Talent Program in Southeast Asia & Oceania – an initiative organized by The World Press Photo. In 2018, she was nominated for the Elliott Erwitt Havana Club 7 Fellowship and for the Visionary Award.