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  • Writer's pictureDeb Smithers

Rehahn Gallery. Vietnam

Old Town Photography

When living in Hoi An, most mornings began with a swim in the ocean, a ride to the market for supplies, followed by Cafe Su Da by the Thu Bon River. One day, I had parked down a side street in the old town, and when making my way back, I stumbled upon an old French house from the 19th century, turned into a Gallery. With its worn, dirty Amber paint and peeling blue doors, it was charming.

2 Bright coloured photography prints of laughing old ladies, displayed  on a side street in Vietnam
Rehahn Gallery. Hoi An

Displayed out on the front curb were two large photographs. Both elderly Vietnamese women, smiling timidly and trying to cover their faces. They are warm, vibrant in colour and filled with emotion, it was difficult not to stop and admire them. A man was musing over one of the displays for some time as passers-by were drawn into the gallery. Who would have thought that by entering those doors I would not come out for 2 hours!

Stepping into what appears to be a little Gallery, you are taken back by the actual enormity of it all, a 500m2 display of photos and artifacts collected during the last 8 years of Rehahn's exploration of Vietnam. A wondrous collection of fascinating traditional ethnic minority costumes, these costumes were given to him for the Museum from each region and many are the last originals that still existed.

While Rehahn was travelling Asia, India, and South/Central America, his trip was transformed by his passion for photographing people singularly and capturing their paths through history. He worked for years on "Hidden Smile" and "Ageless Beauty", which inspired some of his most iconic and celebrated images of Madame Xong and An Phuoc.

Photo by Rehahn

He travelled to the furthest reaches of North Vietnam to photograph tribes such as the Cong, Si La, Dao and Flower Hmong. Each ethnic group differs from the other in many ways including their traditional costumes, language and skills. The beauty of these mountainous villages kept drawing him back and he worked for years to be allowed entry into these remote regions, including the O Du, the smallest ethnic group in Vietnam with only 380 people.

He embarked on a motorcycle journey to North Vietnam where he traveled 2191 km in 15 days, visiting more than 40 ethnic minority groups and taking 5637 photographs. They allowed him to display their treasured artifacts and ancient ethnic jewelry for the exhibition and best shared throughout the journey was the gift of stories, information, acceptance and laughter.

a photographer sitting showing his camera, standing over the camer are three little girls dressed in their brightly coloured traditional costumes.
Rehahn and the Hmong children

From the Gallery to the Museum.

You enter the Fine Art room, where you are met with Rehan's iconic best-selling photographs, and I clearly remember being quite mesmerized at what I had stumbled upon. His works are amazing and impressively displayed against the backdrop of this old timeworn home.

The next room is the latest addition to the gallery, the Indigo room, with walls painted a deep blue Indigo, the same Indigo dye used by ethnic groups such as the Dao, Nung, and Hmong. It shows fabric techniques, passed down generations, the harvesting of hemp, batik design and information about the tribe's process for making this non-toxic "paint". The walls are adorned with Indigo-dyed handicrafts and portraits of some of the amazing women who spend their entire lives making heritage textiles.

A wall decorated with many photographs of Asian woman smiling, they have indigo stained hands from dying the textiles.

A display in a museum. A basket  with indigo and how it is used to dye textiles.

You then pass through the incredible "Precious Heritage Museum", unveiling a cultural tapestry of the Ethnic Tribes.

Photograph of a vietnamese woman with traditional tribal clothing of vibrant colours and she is smoking a pipe.

Photo by Rehan

A display of Photography and the costumes of the ethnic minority people of Vietnam.

Photography and costume in the gallery. A stunning young girl in a scarf with incredible blue eyes

"I’m inspired by humanity in all its forms. Photography is an excuse to get closer to people and to hear their stories. That’s how I got started as a photographer, simply meeting people and taking the time to talk to them"

— Réhahn

Photography by rehan

On completion of his exhibition, he returned and gifted copies of the book to all those who contributed. As for Madame Xong, he forged a lifelong friendship with Madame and her husband. When asked what she would like, she simply wished for an old boat. And this he did. In one of his most iconic pieces, you can see Madame Xong's husband resting in the boat that Rehahn gave them. I had the pleasure of meeting Madame Xong on several occasions in the old town, still working hard and living a very humble life.

Photo by Rehahn

Madame Xong

Rehahn himself resides in Central Vietnam so he is able to visit with some of these ethnic groups regularly and he can see how the modern outside world is slowly changing their paths.

A big Elephant kneeling down  in front of a young tribe child and she has her hands praying.

Photo by Rehahn

Rehahn captures the soul of his subjects and his photos have earned him a very large international following. He is currently working on the Impressionist Series.

Take a look at his amazing photography from all over the world.

Photo by Rehahn

A journey in Ladakh

Hidden Smile Project

Portraits of Varanase

Faces of Rajasthan

Fishing in Vietnam

Photo by Rehahn


Ao Dai Collection

Impressionism in Photography.

Phu Quoc photography exhibition

A beautiful Indian girl with piercing green eyes and a Black headscalf

Photo by Rehahn

Artisanal Traditions of Vietnam

Memories of impressionism

Cigar smokers in Cuba

When leaving I asked the man outside, still musing over the photographs, did you make a decision on which one? "No", he said with a smile, because they are my own photographs. Rehahn was a kind gentleman and as we sat and chatted, I mentioned to him that I was heading to Sapa in the North, to teach in some of the Ethnic minority villages and he shared some wonderful stories of his ride through the North and of how incredible the people are.

Never forget all the adventures that are out there waiting for us to experience.

The Gallery is Free to enter and you can make purchases in-store or online offering free postage overseas. While living in Hoi an, I found it was the perfect place to buy incredible gifts to send to friends and family back home, they organized all the shipping for you there, the most difficult task was making the decision of which one to send.

Stop and enjoy a cup of K’Ho coffee and immerse yourself in the stories and remarkable traditions of Vietnam for an unforgettable experience.

Rehahn Gallery

26 Phan Boi Chau – Hoi an. Vietnam

A colourful illustration of a chicken

Check out Deb's Gallery


Unknown member
Sep 24, 2023

Incredible, Deb,So impressed 😻

Deb Smithers
Deb Smithers
Sep 25, 2023
Replying to

Thanks so much Tim for your kind feed back and enjoying my blog !

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