vietnamese mother

Order of Service Portraits

After my previous blog about consciously having an order of service portrait, I photographed Tan Ho – a 90-year-old Vietnamese woman full of energy and warmth -at the request of her son, Harry.

I photographed her in Harry’s home where she was relaxed as it’s a familiar space for her. Tan Ho lives in her own ‘granny flat’ at the back of Harry’s home. Family visit her daily and Harry, a restauranteur provides her with excellent food. I really liked the fact that we were at Harry’s home as a photography studio can make the sitter behave more formally.

Tan’s husband was a lawyer in Vietnam and Tan lived an upper-middle class Vietnamese life. Her situation, and that of Harry who had come to Sydney before his mother, was very different on first arriving here in the early 1980s. Harry wanted to celebrate the life of his mother with a series of portraits and Tan was delighted to choose what she would wear. She changed garments with joy and good humour.

I set up my lighting and made use of the golden curtains and photographed Tan in the two outfits she and Harry had chosen and the third requested by me!


vietnamese mother in Australia

Tan in a Western style outfit.

Order of Service portrait
Tan and Harry couldn’t understand why I wanted to photograph Tan in her “pottering around the house clothes” that you’d wear in Vietnam. I really liked seeing Tan in this outfit as it showed her as she is most frequently dressed.
A typical Vietnamese evening outfit. Tan was delighted to put this on as she said she doesn’t really get to go out much in the evenings anymore!


Order of Service portrait
It was Tan who suggested standing near the flowers. She just beamed good humour and warmth.