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Friday, February 6, 2015

First Friday: A Look at Tibet, Travel Photographer Eden Frangipane

Eden Frangipane
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About five years ago I met a lovely lady who would share in one of the most memorable days of my short life. Eden was a friend of a friend with a beautiful portfolio of work and an opening on August 28, 2010 (also her birthday). Our first meeting, if I remember correctly, was the day of our engagement photos. Like any typical photographer we took a short hike into the woods for some of our photos. (ha!) It was so fun getting to know her that day. And I'm so glad she has humored me in staying in contact. Her body of work has grown and her travels just the same.

I later found out that the day after our wedding she planned to fly out of Nashville bright and early with her passport in hand. She was going to Vietnam. Really? I said when she told me. From then on out I had to tell everyone because I thought I would be a little cooler for hiring such a one-of-a-kind person to document our big day. I cannot wait to find our forever home (or at least one that we own) so that I can find the perfect spot for a ship photo from her Vietnam trip. It is one of my all time favorites of hers but I keep putting it off because I want it to be really big and I want to know exactly where to put it before I decide on the size. But enough about my decorating...

Eden is one of those humans you just want to be around. She has a calming nature that puts you at ease and sort of makes you be real in your own skin. Those characteristics are what makes her work so compelling. She connects with complete strangers; most of whom speak another language. And so beautifully. Artistically.


P.S. Stop by Dose. in Nashville to see some of Eden's work in person.

Our First Friday artist....Mrs. Eden Frangipane

PP: What made you decide to pick up a camera? 

EF: I'm a pretty nostalgic person and always wanted to capture my experience, my memories and the people I love. I think I learned that at an early age (around 9 or 10 years old) that taking pictures was very important to me.

PP: Did you see a photo that convinced you to choose to document people's lives? 

EF: I wasn't convinced by one photo necessarily but by photo journalism itself. I was fascinated by culture and the stories behind faces I had never seen before. 

I requested this photo and a couple others with the lady in the first picture shown for love them!!

PP: Personally I think there is something about some photographers that allows them to connect with people...they are able to capture the most compelling photographs of strangers on the street. Do you feel like this is a skill you have grown over the years?

Eden's newest friendship
EF: I think it's definitely a skill I've grown in over the years but I do believe some people/photographers just have a way with strangers. I've been in situations where multiple people would be taking pictures of a unique stranger and that stranger would only allow me to photograph them. I used to be terrified of offending people but I began to tell that people can rightly judge someone's intent. I think my subjects are often aware that I don't come as a tourist and they a foreigner but a traveler who is in awe of their culture. 

PP: Where did you travel for your first photography trip? 

EF:My first trip was when I was 23. I spent 4 months traveling through Italy and from there went to Israel, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Switzerland. 

PP: Was it freeing or overwhelming on your first trip? 

EF: Both. I had never travelled alone and when I first got to Italy I remember stepping outside of the place I was staying to call a friend and just cried my eyes out. I was so vulnerable and uncomfortable and had never felt that way before because everything was always so convenient. I knew I was going to feel uncomfortable for a while but I knew it was a good thing, it builds character. There is a beauty in traveling alone because you're challenged in completely different ways. You learn to trust God more and love strangers more because you really don't have anyone else. I've learned to love that same uncomfortable vulnerability, because when you finally accept it, it's freeing. 

PP: Do you approach your trips differently now than you did the first time? 

EF: Not entirely. I do a lot of planning, I would kick myself if I went somewhere and didn't know that the next town over was a photographer's paradise. The only thing I probably do differently is take my husband with me which has been so much fun. 

PP: How have you chosen your destinations? 

EF: Research. I search areas where I've seen inspiring photographs. I often look at my two favorite photographers, Steve McCurry and Eric Valli and get inspired by their past locations.  

PP: What motivates you the most to do travel photography? 

EF: Experience, discovery, culture and vulnerability. My real passion is traveling, photography is only the by-product of my experience.

PP: What has been the most inspiring trip you have taken thus far? 

EF: They're all inspiring in their own way but I'd say my most recent trip to Tibet. I've always been intrigued by nomads and had always wanted to document the nomadic yak herders of the Tibetan Plateau. It by far took the longest to get there and I was so pleased and humbled by my experience with them. 

PP: What has been the most photogenic destination? 

EF: As far as people go, I find Tibetans to be one of the most stunning cultures in the world. Cuba, Vietnam and Israel were also very photogenic places. Milford Sound, New Zealand has the most beautiful and magical scenery of any place I've been.

PP: Do you ever leave a destination with friends you never knew you would make? 

EF: Yes, I'd say one or two in every country I've been. I think I've bonded with quite a few strangers that I'll never forget. I spent 10 days in Norway with friends of friends and met a girl named Kjersti. The moment I met her at 6am at the train station she asked if I wanted to go on a hike. Tired from lack of sleep, or really no sleep at all we went on a hike and instantly we it felt like we had been friends for life. 

PP: How do new relationships or friendships shape your work while you are on location? 

EF: Makes me want to revisit that place!

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” 
-Cesare Pavese   

18 different countries are represented within my photographs. In their own way, I hope these photographs help bridge a cultural gap that makes the world a little smaller, more tangible and more communal.

instagram: littlefrankie

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