When I was asked to shoot a wedding in HCMC I had no idea what I was getting into. I was told the bride was Jennifer Pham and she is a huge celebrity in Vietnam. People are quick to use the word famous in Vietnam so I shrugged my shoulders and thought she would fall into the category of what I call “Vietnam famous”. My assistant warned me but again I just thought that maybe she would receive some double takes and long stares on the street but nothing more, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I arrived at the groom’s house early in the morning and no signs of anything out of the ordinary. I was suffering from food poisoning but I had to suck it up and not let anyone know I was sick which I did successfully I think unless you walked near the bathroom while I was in there. I went to work documenting the groom getting ready with his brother. He was a really mellow and polite guy, made my job easy. I noticed the video team arriving and a few other photographers trickled in but again nothing out of the ordinary for a Vietnamese wedding. Vietnamese weddings often have several video teams and photographers hired by both families. You never know who is working for who and often you don’t even know who is a hired a photographer or a guest.
We got into the groom’s car and headed for Jennifer’s house and that’s when I realized she was truly famous, not just “Vietnam famous” because I’m pretty sure the paparazzi wasn’t there to document me. Wow, security and police blocking the street and paparazzi like I’ve never seen, several on motorbikes with cameras in hand. They were all jostling to get their picture and unfortunately for them they were left with a tall bald white guy in all their shots. I had to laugh at people’s confusion trying to figure out where I fit it. Hmmm, it got my wondering if Jennifer and Hai hired me because they wanted a tall fat guy to block the paparazzi.
The madness continued at Jennifer’s house where after competing with the paparazzi I had to compete with an onslaught of hired videographers and photographers. They must have hated me. My style isn’t exactly to stand back and take snapshots. I get right in there and everywhere. A few of the videographers complained but hey they had 5 guys shooting so at any given time I was going to be in one of their frames. I should mention I was working with Misa Vu wedding planners and their video team. I wish all video teams were like those guys, we work really well together and they understand that I have to get close to my subjects and they are very professional, even if they hate me at times ☺.
My phone started going crazy over lunch with text messages with people saying they saw me on TV and online, Justin Mott was officially “Vietnam Famous” for a day. The newspapers listed me as a foreign reporter, basically making me look like foreign paparazzi. The reception was like the Oscars; my assistant Ngoc was going crazy pointing out all the famous people like a giddy child.
Jennifer and Hai were such a lovely couple and so patient allowing me to go where I wanted to go and do what I needed to do to get nice shots to tell their wedding day story. If Mott Visuals Weddings photographs another celebrity couple I hope they are as cool as Jennifer and Hai. They are truly famous and Justin Mott was “Vietnam famous” for a day, but hey I’ll take what I can get. Out of respect to them I’m only going to share a few of my favorite pictures from there special day.