Churches may not spring to mind at the mention of Vietnam, but in the Red River delta district of Nam Dinh, they seem to be as abundant as rice fields.
Hanoi-based photographer Francis Roux found himself amidst this large Catholic presence when he stumbled upon a local procession in celebration of Maria emerging from a church dating back to the 1940’s. And as the familiarity of Christianity washed over him, Francis was struck by the distinctive Vietnamese surroundings. The contrasts captivated his imagination and inspired him to produce a series that would highlight this mix of culture and religion while exposing his interpretation of the event.
In fact, an essential component of Francis’ creative process is his ability to connect to the subject matter; by stepping back to internalize the experience, he is able to find a unique style of visual expression in both composition and post-processing.
Francis decided to construct a new reality that showed his strong feeling of traveling back in time. To draw viewers into the past with him he manipulated the vibrant colors and ultra-sharpness of his high-quality digital photos to “show something gritty and old-fashioned.”
While it is not uncommon for photographers to take advantage of today’s digital tools to alter their images, Francis along with his peers are mindful of how they use the new technologies and avoid the temptation to rely on it for a good image. Francis sees photo retouching as a way to make adjustments which mirror the reactions and perceptions from behind the lens so that his ideas live through the material he’s capturing and producing; what remains for the viewer then is a representation of how he witnessed the event, not a universal portrayal.
While Francis doesn’t often manipulate his photos as he did for this project he definitely believes that ‘from time to time, well it’s good to experiment!” And just as the moment passes, the ‘recipe’ as Francis calls it, is most likely a one-time use.