For much of history, Vietnam has existed as an agricultural civilization cultivating rice fields. Today it shows its colours in many forms, rich in culture Vietnam goes from bustling vibrant cityscapes to lush green forests, laid-back colonial towns to roads dense with motorbikes. This number of fascinating variations is what sparked Italian photographer, Eugenio Frasca for a number of years.
Travelling independently from Hanoi to Saigon, Eugenio found himself passing through vast rice paddies surrounded by cloud-kissed mountains, endless plains dotted with rural small villages, ancient monasteries, pristine beaches and quaint fishing villages. “This series is about how I perceived Vietnam and its way of life. I didn’t have enough time for a traditional approach to reportage, so I just let myself get carried away into this amazing country and lived the travel experience to the fullest, without so much pressure to shoot”.
Farmer of the Hue area, Central Vietnam - Nikon D700,f/1.4,1/320, ISO320, AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED at 24mm
Right after sunrise in Hoi An - Nikon D700, f/3.2, 1/100, ISO200, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II at 150mm
Long Biên Bridge, Hanoi - Nikon D700, f/3.2, 1/800, ISO200, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II at 200mm
Experiencing Vietnam first as a traveler, before a photographer, he instantly fell for its genuine people and phenomenal food on offer. Behind the camera, what he was drawn to was that almost anywhere in Vietnam he could really breathe its unique vibes, forged from its rich history and vigorous fast-paced economic growth. “I think that Vietnamese are a young and hardworking population who are admirably able to put the bitter memories of the war aside and is now eager to seize the opportunities of this time. It isn't always clear which direction it is going, but you can feel a sort of energizing excitement in the air.”
His inspiration comes simple from the challenge of capturing a moment that will never happen again. An authentic emotion, the daily life in the far corners of the planet, chasing the light and finding beauty in the unexpected. All of this drives Eugenio to shoot everyday no matter where he resides.
“I have always been fascinated by the incredible beauty and diversity of the world and its people, which are my favorite subject with all their subtleties of gesture, expression and attitude. I like to portray people in all their dignity, without too much frills or glamour.”
One of Engenio’s favourite images, and perhaps one of the most striking in this series depicts an older man strolling along train tracks enjoying a freshly lit cigarette, a tree ahead of him creates an arched gateway whilst haphazard buildings line either side of him. The scene is colorful, but the man appears alone in thought, such a serene shot it makes you forget that a Eugenio would have been trailing behind him in this moment.
Paddy fields in the Hòa Bình Province, Northwest Vietnam - Nikon D700, f/2.8, 1/160, ISO200, AF-S Zoom-NIKKOR 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED at 17mm
Railroad tracks running through Hanoi's Old Quarter - Nikon D700, f/2.8, 1/500, ISO200, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II at 135mm
Heading to the market just after dawn, Hanoi - Nikon D700, f/1.8, 1/320, ISO200, AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.8G at 28mm
Busy intersection in Hanoi's Old Quarter - Nikon D700, f/3.5, 1/60, ISO2000, AF-S Zoom-NIKKOR 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED at 17mm
When it came to choosing which image could possibly be Eugenio’s favorite, he boils it down to his experience behind the camera rather than the image itself. He recalls getting lost in Hanoi’s maze-like streets, all which retain much of North Vietnam’s influence. “To me this photo shows its true essence of Hanoi, far away from the cliché depiction of the country.”
Eugenio believes that light is any photographer’s best friend; after all, the very definition of photography is “drawing with light”. Although composition and subject play an important role in the success of a photo, light is decisive both technically and aesthetically, and can be used for specific purposes, like giving the image a sense of depth or dynamism, or make it more dramatic or impactful.
For this very reason his only must have piece of equipment is a very fast prime lens which allows him to shoot in low light and always keep the subject in sharp focus with a ‘smooth, creamy bokeh’ in the background. This makes the AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED at 24mm a surefire in his camera bag and the lens he used for much of this series.
Eugenio describes himself as a compulsive traveler with a true passion for photography. Being a self-taught photographer, he strives to make shooting a constant challenge for himself, the more difficult the better! After several years of wandering and collecting stories, he began developing a passion of portraiture and reportage, which lead him further around the world. Having a strong connect with Asia, he hopes to move here some day.