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.

Maika Elan

Ho Chi Minh City, VIETNAM

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.

Vu Trong Hung, a government inspector, and his boyfriend, Tran Van Tin, a social worker, are sitting together at their house in Hanoi, Vietnam on 12 July 2011. They have been together for 2 years.

"For me, photography is not simply a passion or a career, it’s a wonderful means by which I can explore the world, learn more about people and, in turn, discover what I am capable of personally."

Maika Elan
The back of Doan Huu Dieu and Nguyen Trong Hieu, who have been together for three years, as they wake up at home in Vinh Phuc, Vietnam on 27 July 2011.
My father is receiving treatment for cancer. For many months, he could not get out of bed due to his poor health. His weight dropped by 20kgs in a short time. One day I watched him as he was wearing his own clothes, which were so big, they looked like they belonged to someone else. It surprised me how very small he looked. He looked like a child trying to wear the clothes of adults – like when kids wear the clothes of their parents. I suddenly felt so grown up. Then I was reminded of the past when my dad used to take me to the park and buy me stuffed animal toys. He also took many funny photos of me. I think it’s my turn to do something for my father, as he has done for me in the past. We both went back to the same park and played like old days. He had to try very hard to cope even just for a few hours.I hope these pictures I make will motivate him. I hope they let him see that he is not as sick as he feels. In my heart, he is always a happy person and full of optimism. Our little adventure begins, like the old days.
Chujo, 24, has been a hikikomori for two years. He dreams of being a singer, but his family want him to work in business. After working in one company for two years, and experiencing too much stress, Chujo decided to lock himself in his room. Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has defined a hikikomori as a person who does not participate in society (particularly school or work) and has no desire to do so. A hikikomori is also someone who doesn’t have any close, non-familial relationships. These withdrawal symptoms must last for at least six months, and the social withdrawal itself must not be a symptom of a pathological problem.
Riki Cook, 30, has been a hikikomori for three years. Riki Cook is American-Japanese. His family lives mainly in Hawaii and he lives alone in Japan. The photos were taken in his family’s living room in Chiba, Japan, in 2016.