Maika Elan


Maika Elan (Nguyen Thanh Hai) is a freelance photographer based in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

After studying sociology at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi, Maika Elan started to take pictures of her daily and private life in 2008. She turned to professional photography soon after, starting with collaborations for editorial clients and fashion firms in Vietnam. In 2010, she moved to documentary photography and her first project called The Pink Choice, which focused on the personal life of gay couples in Vietnam, has been published in many international magazines, on print and online.

Maika Elan was awarded both Best Photo Essay and Best Single Photo in 2010 at Indochina Media Memorial Foundation. In 2012, she was a finalist at the Asian Women Photographers award for The Pink Choice. The project was also awarded 1st prize in the Contemporary Issues, stories category of the 2013 in the World Press Photo Contest, and 1st prize documentary story at Pride Photo Award 2013.

Her first solo exhibition was hosted at the Goethe Institut in Hanoi in 2012. Elan was a 2013 Joop Swart Masterclass participant and was selected for the VII Mentor program from 2014-2016. In 2017, she was one of the six selected talents of the first 6x6 Global Talent Program in Southeast Asia and Oceania.

World Press Photo Involvement:
2023 World Press Photo Contest Southeast Asia and Oceania jury chair
6x6 Southeast Asia and Oceania talent
2013 World Press Photo Contest winner
2013 Joop Swart Masterclass participant

Maika Elan on Social Media:
Instagram: @maikaelan

Maika Elan
Portrait credit: Terry Barentsen