Maika Elan

6x6 Southeast Asia and Oceania Talent:
Maika Elan, Vietnam

“Maika Elan is a new generation freelance photographer born and based in Hanoi, Vietnam. Maika is the best representative of the new breed of documentary photographers with the highest professional skills, courage, dedication and compassion. In the most powerful way, she captures the characters and trends which escape the attention of local media and remain totally unreported in her country.” - Andrei Polikanov, visual director Takie Dela online media and 6x6 nominator, Russia

Maika Elan (Nguyen Thanh Hai) is a freelance photographer based in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam. Elan was awarded both Best Photo Essay and Best Single Photo in 2010 at Indochina Media Memorial Foundation. In 2012, She was awarded 1st prize stories, Contemporary Issues, in the World Press Photo Contest 2013 and 1st prize documentary story at Pride Photo Award 2013. She was also a finalist at Asian Women Photographers award (2012), a participant in World Press Photo’s 2013 Joop Swart Masterclass, and a mentee of the VII Mentor program from 2014-2016.

Like my Father

“My father is in treatment for his cancer. For many months, he could not get out of bed because of his poor health. His weight fell by 20 kgs over a short time. One day I noticed how very small looked in his own clothes. He looked like a child trying to wear the clothes of adults – like when kids wear the clothes of their parents. I suddenly felt so grown up. Then I was reminded of the past, when my dad used to take me to the park and buy me a lot of stuffed animal toys. He also took many funny photos of me. I thought it was my turn to do something for my father, as he had done for me in the past. We both went back to the same park and played like old days. He had to try very hard to cope, even just for a few hours. I hope these pictures will be a big motivation for him. I hope they let him see that he is not as sick as he feels. In my heart, he is always a happy person and full of optimism.” - Maika Elan

It felt safe here

Everyone wants to retreat from the world sometimes. But some Japanese people find themselves spending months, sometimes years, of their lives in their bedrooms. Usually male and usually in their twenties, these are Japan's "missing million," otherwise known as Hikikomori— one of the biggest social and health problems facing Japan. Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has defined a Hikikomori as a person who does not participate in society (particularly school or work) and has no desire to do so. These withdrawal symptoms must last for at least six months and the social withdrawal itself must not be a symptom of a pathological problem.

See Maika Elan's 'It felt safe here' on Witness, World Press Photo's online magazine.

Discover work by the 6x6 Southeast Asia and Oceania talents, and find out about 6x6’s nomination and selection process.