Maika Elan

Maika Elan studied sociology at university in Hanoi and first took up a camera to record her own life. As she became more interested in the medium, she began to consider the possibility of photography as a career.  Elan first did editorial and fashion photography and turned to documentary photography only in 2010.  In 2011 she enrolled in a photo workshop in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  At a loss for a subject to shoot, she ventured into a hotel named Pink Choice that catered to gay couples traveling through Southeast Asia. The residents unhesitatingly allowed her to use them as her subjects and even welcomed the opportunity to be photographed. After returning to Vietnam, Elan became increasingly aware that gay couples did not enjoy the same freedoms afforded the couples she had met in Cambodia. 

She notes:

  • Even though many people seem to be open about homosexuality, it turned out to be untrue when I showed people photos of homosexual couples in intimate moments. Most of them found the photos disgusting and unacceptable. This reaction was a source of inspiration to me. My goal was to make photos about homosexuals that incite feelings of romantic love that is natural and beautiful. I chose to capture casual daily activities of the couples that can be familiar to anyone. By doing so, I hope to make the audience become interested, then gradually empathize with homosexual people.

Elan continues: 

  • The Pink Choice is a series of photos about the love of homosexual couples which focus on living spaces, the affectionate touches, and more importantly, the synchronized rhythm of lovers sharing life together. Viewers may not feel the personalities of the subjects in the photos, but hopefully they can feel the warmth of their love and caring. In way, I wanted to show what I see of homosexual people and not how they see themselves.



Image: Maika Elan (Nguyen Thanh Hai). Born in Hanoi, Vietnam. Lives and works in Hanoi. Untitled (Tuan and Lan legs) from The Pink Choice, 2011. Archival pigment print. Lent by Maika Elan. ©2016 Maika Elan