For nearly four weeks, Marcus Adams explored much of Cambodia and Vietnam, travelling to Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, and Siem Reap, before stopping at Ho Chi Minh City on his trip back to Wellington. His kit consisted of two Sony α9 bodies, three Sony G Master f/2.8 zoom lenses (16-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm), as well as a Sony Zeiss 35mm prime lens. Using these bodies and lenses, he spent his days exploring the cities, capturing striking images of the people and the places he encountered along the way.
Although Marcus doesn’t regard himself as a portrait photographer, he brought home many shots of people from his travels. To him, travelling isn’t just about looking at the scenery, but immersing yourself in the everyday life of the place you’re visiting.
“When I am shooting exotic faraway places, it is the people who inhabit them that interest me, for without them, what do you have? If you visit Vietnam, or wherever, you visit to experience what the people who live there have made it, not simply to look at empty landscapes and beaches,” Marcus explains.
During his trip Marcus photographed the Old Quarter of Hanoi, which is the area he stays in when he’s in Hanoi. “It’s a bustling cacophony of narrow streets and alleyways, bursting with people and life. The more formal part of the city, the French Quarter, has some magnificent examples of French colonial architecture and gives a hint of just how spectacular this area would have looked at the height of colonial sophistication,” he describes.
Moving on to Hue, which is on the Perfume River, Marcus was able to see formal imperial buildings, royal tombs, as well as other historical features. He only spent a short time in Hoi An, which he says he was sad to see it had lost its “delightful, sleeper former trading port” feel, and was now “a victim of its own success and teems with tourists every evening who arrive in a fleet of coaches.” Marcus said he counted more than 40 coaches during one evening’s walk.
It’s always hard to pick favourite shots of your time away, but Marcus did have a few that he reflects back on with a smile. In Vietnam, he would venture out on early morning walks. “There are some shots from those [walks] which I like, such as the flower seller lady who provided a lovely environmental portrait – conveniently located right in front of an 18% grey garage door!”
Another set of portrait shots that he loved were the shots of the young children he photographed in Cambodia. “They always seem so happy and have to be amongst the most photogenic children in the world.”
Marcus is keen to share this series of his travel photography, and encourage a wide audience to experience the people and places in Vietnam and Cambodia on a bigger scale. Although he has no concrete plans as yet, he’s not discounting the idea of a photo book, and is certainly open to offers of exhibition space.
“What is travel photography if it does not convey to the viewer a sense of travelling to the destination at hand? You should feel the heat, hear the noise, smell the smells. A good travel photograph should have that effect, I believe.”