Vietnam ornamental fish seller photo wins grand Smithsonian prize

By Nguyen Quy   April 19, 2020 | 11:00 pm PT
The photograph of a man selling ornamental fish on a motorbike in Hanoi has been chosen winner of this year’s Smithsonian photo contest.

The photo, titled ‘A fish seller displays his goods’, was taken by British photographer Jon Enoch during his visit to Vietnam in February 2019.

Enoch said he was impressed with bikers who transported heaps of merchandise piled on their motorbikes and spent a week chasing down riders and their cargos and convincing them to pose for the camera.

His photo of one driver expertly balancing many transparent packages of ornamental fish on the back of his bike beat 59 other finalists to win the $2,500 top prize at the annual photo contest organized by Smithsonian magazine.

The magazine is the official journal published by the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum, education, and research complex based in Washington, D.C.,

A photo of a man poses with his scooter in Hanoi with a delivery of pet fish. Photo taken by Jon Enoch in February 2019.

A man sells ornamental fish in Hanoi on his motorbike, which has a small oxygen cylinder attached to its side. The photograph has won the grand prize in this year’s Smithsonian photo contest. Photo taken by Jon Enoch in February 2019.

"It’s an image that crystallizes a tradition, one that may not exist for much longer," the editors of the magazine said.

"Hanoi has plans to ban motorbikes by 2030 to cut down on emissions, something that is wonderful for the environment but will certainly change how business gets done," it added.

Street vendors riding motorbikes and selling many items including ornamental fish on every street, public park and entertainment hotspot are a familiar sight in Vietnam, especially in big cities.

The millennial city of Hanoi, famous for its relics, ancient pagodas and any number of historical monuments, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam, attracting millions of domestic and foreign tourists every year.

This year, the Smithcontest received 36,000 submissions sent in from 145 countries and territories.

In 2018, Vietnamese photographer Nguyen Huu Thong from the northern province of Bac Giang had won the grand prize in the same contest for his "Flea Market Breakfast" photograph taken at a rural market in the northern highlands town of Ha Giang.

Numerous photographs of Vietnamese landscapes winning international, regional and national prizes have enhanced Vietnam’s reputation as an extremely photogenic country.

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