I think my main goal is to try to photograph landscape in such a way so that history could be suggested through the landscape, whether industrial history or my personal history.

– An-My Le

An-My Le was born in Saigon in 1960 and was raised during the war in Viet Nam. She said that occurrences, like finding the front gate of her school in smoke because a mortar had fallen there, was something that she learned to take in stride. 


Her mother and two brothers traveled to Paris, after the Tet Offensive in 1968, where her mother had a scholarship at the Sorbonne. They returned to Viet Nam after the U.S. withdrawal in 1973. Her father and brothers were evacuated by the Americans in 1975; her mother followed a few months later. The family settled in Southern California, where Le studied biology, earning an MS degree in 1985 at Stanford University, in anticipation of a career in medicine. Her plans changed radically when she took a course in photography.


After graduation, Le returned to Paris, where she was hired by a guild of craftsmen, whose works dated back to the Middle Ages. The only woman in the group, she spent four years documenting their work. When she returned to the U.S., she attended Yale University School of Art, where she received her MFA in 1993. It was there that she met her husband, fellow student John Pilson.


Le returned to Viet Nam in 1994 when the country resumed relations with the U.S. Her intention was was to connect with  her homeland, or the idea of what a homeland is. She took photographs, during her stay, of the landscape and the way in which people interacted with the landscape. Her photographs resonated with people around the world and she began to explore the way in which the military prepares for war, the meaning of war and what it means to live through times of turbulence. Most of Le’s photographs are black and white, which she says have the feeling of drawings. 


Le has been awarded the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Photography, the  John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and many other awards and grants. Her works are in the permanent collection of MoMa, the Met, the Whitney and many other major museums and galleries around the world.


An-My Le is a Professor of Photography at Bard College. She lives and works in Brooklyn with her husband and their two sons.




Nancy Princenthal. Troubled Turf: The Photographs of An-My Le. The New York Times. April 3, 2020.


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