Do you prefer to tell a story through photos or videos?
"Some stories are best told through still imagery, and some through video. Some are even best told through sound alone, but a crucial part of my job is selecting which medium serves the story best. For example, I recently filmed the story of a Vietnamese woman who started feeding monkeys that moved to an isolated island after deforestation destroyed their natural habitat. Just with the photographs, my audience wouldn't be able to hear how she talks to the monkeys like a doting mother, or the cries they make when they hear her approaching."
What work are you most proud of?
"In 2020, I lived with a community of women in the Po Delta in northeast Italy. Most of the women in this region were formerly employed in textile mills, but after a crisis in the textile industry in the 1980s, they had to find new work. Around the same time, clams were planted in the shallow waters of the Delta, providing an opportunity for the women to find employment in the fishing industry – an industry that had previously been dominated by men. I lived with these women during the Covid-19 pandemic, and while studying remotely at ICP, which meant studying until 1am and then waking up to go fishing for clams at 4am. It was a challenging time, but I'm proud of myself for committing to the story. I named the series Like the Tide and it was published in National Geographic, among other publications. Receiving recognition for my work was great, but I'm more proud of the contribution I made to the community. By shining a light on their story, I gave the world a chance to celebrate fisherwomen, and the community itself a chance to celebrate them. A few years after the project circulated, their city gave recognition to two of the fisherwomen I photographed, for being among the first to pursue this profession."
What work has had the biggest impact on you?
"My grandmother had a live-in Ukrainian caregiver, who stayed with her until the end of her life. I started photographing her to understand the emotional aspects of this profession. Tensions meanwhile were growing, so I decided to expand the project to the whole community, and the story began to add more shades. I had three months' worth of material when the invasion started, which ended up being published in The New York Times and led to me being awarded The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation Fellowship grant to delve into it for another year. The story was very emotional and impacted me greatly, both for losing my grandmother right in the middle of the grant and for immersing myself in the grief and pain of those experiencing conflict from afar."
How do you choose your stories?
"I explore the ways in which the economy affects people's lives and how a single product can affect the lives of multiple generations. In Vietnam, I documented a story about the agricultural drones used to grow rice in the Mekong Delta. Introducing such an innovative approach to cultivating a product that is at the core of its culture embodies the country's spirit. The drone also provides new job opportunities for young generations in rural areas. I also like to document strong, independent women because they're my role models: the fisherwomen who persisted despite everyone telling them it was a man's job; the Ukrainian caregivers who continue to lovingly care for our elderly despite their families being bombed. They're the women I want to be, and taking their photographs or making films about them is my way of showing respect."