The #NoFilter campaign for UNICEF brought the location into the darkroom, using the film development process to give meaning to its message. Water from the highly polluted Saigon River was used to develop analog portraits of children who live in areas around the river, highlighting the dangers of their living conditions. “I wanted to shoot young children to emphasize their innocence in this polluted environment … to highlight the impact and suffering,” says portrait and advertising photographer, Teo Chai Guan.

The shoot took place at several locations in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and while research and location scouting could take place in advance, the portraits were completely dependent on who the team managed to find on the day. Teo describes this, as well as a 10-year hiatus from using film, as just one of the many challenges he encountered.

Like most photographers, Teo had never used un-filtered water to develop film before and described the process as a science experiment. “We collected samples of various grades of polluted water along different parts of the river and each type of water gave different effects. It was always an anticipation to see how each photograph turned out,” describes Teo.

This powerful UNICEF campaign, for their WASH program, won 2 Bronze Lions and Eurobest 2016.

Campaign: #NoFilter
Client: UNICEF
Agency: FCB Happiness Saigon, Vietnam
Photographer: Teo Chai Guan
Chief Creative Officer: Geoffrey Hantson
Creative Director: Paul Busschau
Producer: Huynh Tram

Article published in Capture Magazine. capturemag.com.au