Maika Elan


“Maika Elan (Nguyen Thanh Hai) 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, Russia - 6x6 Global Talent Program nominator

Maika Elan (Nguyen Thanh Hai) is a freelance photographer based in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam. After studying sociology at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Hanoi, Maika 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 Maika moved to documentary photography and her first project called ‘The Pink Choice’, focused on the personal life of gay couples in Vietnam, has been published in many international magazines, on print and online.

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

Her first solo exhibition was hosted at Goethe Institut in Hanoi in 2012. Maika was a participant in the World Press Photo’s 2013 Joop Swart Masterclass and selected for the VII Mentor program from 2014-2016.

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

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Maika Elan