Alessandro Vanucci by no measure considers himself a man of spirituality, however the lives that unfolds besides the river Ganges and the magic that reigns over the Ghats are so enchanting that he finds himself on a pilgrimage to India every year. Amongst the vast amounts of people and rich culture, he witnesses a type of romanticism unique to India.
Alessandro’s series follows his latest adventures in and around India, where he captured portraits heavy with narrative as well as scenic moments of serenity. Despite there being a certain sense of calm depicted in his shots, in reality his surroundings are much less serene. “In India, everywhere you go, there are so many things happening at the same time, I often feel overwhelmed. Sometimes it is difficult for me too keep my concentration. This is India!”
When shooting, his golden rule is to connect with his subject. It is the element of comfort in the situation or with the person that creates a picture that is truly moving. “I remember at the Kumbh Mela I was sitting next to a Sadhu talking for 30 minutes, English VS Hindi. Obviously we did not understand one word but it was very interesting and funny.” From strangers to friends despite the language barrier, it is these shared moments that really bring his images the extra mile.
Inside a sleeper train, Varanasi station – Nikon D810, f/1.4, 1/45 sec, ISO 1600, AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED
Varanasi night view, from the Gangse River – Nikon D810, f/1.4, 1/50 sec, ISO 3200, AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED
Even in times where words are not exchanged, a very personal connection is made by the power of observation. Seeing an entity in its element, so wrapped up in a moment that they are undisturbed by your presence. Alessandro shares an important lesson in time, patience and spectating.
“The photo of the Sadhu praying in the Ganges River at the sunrise. I remember it very well, it was so cold and I was staring at him for 20 minutes before taking the photos. He was so concentrated on his prayers that I was completely invisible to him. When he came out of the water he was shivering from the cold, but in the water he was so calm and still, unbelievable!”
Another key to his imagery is seeking out beautiful light; this is often his starting point. When the perfect light presents itself, this is when the waiting begins, he studies the events unfolding around him, trying to anticipate that picture perfect moment. “The subject is important, but the light and the ‘moment’ are equally, if not more decisive. Everything revolves around the light; the perfect shot needs perfect light.”
That is why his Nikon D810 is always present, an easy choice for him as it is most helpful in low light situations or when there is a big contract between highlights and shadows. His choice of lens is the AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED, which was used to shoot the majority of his India series. “The way this lens work is something magic, the out of focus is something outstanding that I never saw before in any other lens.”
A prayer to the Ganges, Varanasi – Nikon D810, f/1.4, 1/1250 sec, ISO 160, AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED
One of the images that resonated with him most depicts a narrow green barbershop, the contents of the parlor are minimal and well worn. Two children look to the left as the barber is in the midst of a close shave. For Alessandro the moment captured is so natural, and tells a story from a lost time, feelings of sentiment lie deep in this moment. With a country brimming with millions of stories, India may forever call to Alessandro to share its fleeting moments and everyday charm.
Alessandro moved to Siam Reap 7 years ago, he is now working as a photographer guiding photo-tours mainly around Cambodia, as well as India, Myanmar, Vietnam. He has been in love with photography since the age of 15 but only now feels as though he has reached the "next step" when he moved to Asia. His passion lies in capturing photos of people, always aiming to bring the emotions behind every face forward