Saigon market women through the lens of Swedish photographer

Their smiles brighten up everyone’s day

Swede photographer Tanya Olander has shared with Tuoi Tre News some of her pictures capturing the beauty of women she has met at Saigon markets, and they are brilliant.

Saigon market women through the lens of Swedish photographer

Not everyone at every market is as chummy as this joyful butcher at Tan Dinh market, but when they are, listening to the friendly banter between stall owners is a joy to behold. Which market do you think is the friendliest in Saigon?

Around 600 photos that Olander posted on her Instagram @somewheresaigon with over 6,700 followers bring viewers a sense of the street life in Saigon.

On her page, she dedicates numerous spots to showcasing the women of the city who “caught her eye early on.”

“Their hard work and resilience was obvious, and I wanted to share this with people who may otherwise not have given these women any thought, encouraging them to stop and ‘see’ these women,” the photographer from Stockholm told Tuoi Tre News through email from Shanghai, where she is currently based.

Olander said that the smiles in her photos were taken in different situations.

Besides pictures in which the women burst out laughing as they were shy seeing a foreigner taking photos of them, there are also photos Olander took by chance when the market sellers were talking to a customer or a colleague, sharing a joke, some good natured gossip or just having fun.

“These are the moments that I love to observe,” Olander said.

Below are some photos capturing Saigon market women by Tanya Olander and the stories behind them as written by the photographer:

Saigon market women through the lens of Swedish photographer

Not everyone at every market is as chummy as this joyful butcher at Tan Dinh Market, but when they are, listening to the friendly banter between stall owners is a joy to behold. Which market do you think is the friendliest in Saigon?

Saigon market women through the lens of Swedish photographer

Such a favorite burst of colors in the dim light of the early morning that I hope you forgive me for digging into the archives to share this with you.

Saigon market women through the lens of Swedish photographer

Nothing short of a million dollar smile from this vendor at Tan Dinh Market

Saigon market women through the lens of Swedish photographer

As much as I love to return with prints, I’m not entirely sure I can find my way back to this lovely butcher at a tiny alley market in District 3. As the female vendors chatted, she was busy adding up a bill, glancing up and commenting every now and then. As she did I took this picture. Only moments later when I showed it to her, she covered her mouth chuckling, as if me wanting a picture of her working was absurd. But I think she's beautiful and will at some point try to find my way back to give her this picture.

Saigon market women through the lens of Swedish photographer

Tickled, embarrassed, incredulous, curious. I see a range of emotions surface when I get down on street level, smile, point at something and ask a simple question...and it usually allows me to share a warmer, more human image than what comes from simply standing above someone shooting down. What a lovely laugh she has, doesn't she?

Saigon market women through the lens of Swedish photographer

She stood out as a sudden burst of color with her red and gold outfit against the turquoise wall, as I made my way in to explore a small alley off a main street near the Saigon train station.

Saigon market women through the lens of Swedish photographer

The genuine pleasure and pride that this woman's face exudes in the simple act of serving a bowl of "hu tieu" soup should be bottled and sold. It was a pleasure watching her. I'll make sure to return on an empty stomach next time!

Saigon market women through the lens of Swedish photographer

She radiates beauty. With the heartwarming giggle of a schoolgirl, this "banh mi" vendor along Hoang Sa Street gently pushed back tresses of hair before placing the "non la" on her head in order to pose for this portrait, all while mumbling "I'm so fat, why would you want a picture of me?". I couldn't disagree more. She radiates beauty.

Saigon market women through the lens of Swedish photographer

Tanya Olander laughs with two local vendors in a photo taken by photographer Maria Graven while the two were shooting in District 3. Photo provided by Tanya Olander

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