By Eric Van Buskirk
This photo was taken in 2002: yes before there were decent digital SLRs. The Images from the trip were developed in Vietnam, which had surprisingly decent (not good, but decent) processing machines in photo stores. Vietnam was and is today (in 2019) one of the best countries in the world for travel photography; it’s women beautiful, men handsome, and culture alluring after 1000 years of Chinese influence. In every city neighbourhood, an independent streak shows in the contrast of tradition next to the ultra modern.
17 years later I find myself living in the capital city. I don’t own an SLR now, sadly. I’m a digital-location-independent guy, living out the dream of having my own business with the freedom to work anywhere that has a good Internet connection and plug for my laptop.
With digital SLR prices dropping heavily, it’s tough NOT to justify buying a new camera. My trip to Vietnam was perhaps the most “serious” photography I’ve done in my life, with 1/2 time spent enjoying the travel time, and the other 1/2 spent shooting with my Canon EOS film camera.
There is great irony in the fact that I’ve only taken smart-phone pics over the last three years of living in HCMC. Call me cynical, but the age of “everyone is a pro photographer” made my passion for the hobby diminish. For sure, if everyone and their mother were not in Saigon taking photos of this exciting city of contrasts (literal and figuratively speaking, contrasts) I’d be spending free time roaming the back streets and Hem’s (alleys) hours on end, digital SLR in tow.