This year I was lucky to return to Ethiopia; the first time I visited was in 2015. Ethiopia is a vibrant and beautiful country filled with many diverse cultures. It has a population of roughly 100 million people which makes it the most populous land-locked country in the world. Most of the country covered a large plateau that rises above the African continent. The capital Addis Ababa is about 2,300 meters above sea level.
On this trip I visited both the capital Addis Ababa and a regional city in the north called Mek’ele.
Addis Ababa is a city constantly under development, it is a haven for international and local investment.
Everywhere you look you find the juxtaposition of old and new. This can be seen in the cars on the road & the buildings, even the technology the people of Addis Ababa carry around and utilise.
With Foreign investment in the country brings new technology such as the photos of the new modern trams that runs straight through the city.
Some of the roads are brand new and others are extremely old cobblestone roads that are deteriorating. I was skeptical about shooting in black and white on this trip as Ethiopia is such a vibrant country.
However, I shot a roll of Kodak Tri-X in Addis Ababa and I think it captures a level of intensity that colour doesn’t necessarily give you.
The simplicity of Black & White enables you to marvel in the complex angles and shapes naturally created in streetscapes.
The city of Mek’ele is situated in the north of the country and like Addis Ababa, it is about 2,000 meters above sea level. Mek’ele is in the region called Tigray that borders Eritrea and there is a lot of history in this part of the country. The Tigray region is home to the ancient city of Axum, as well as the Danakil Depression, which is the hottest and lowest place on earth.
Instead of taxis, in regional Ethiopian cities people hire blue auto-rickshaws called bajaj to get around. People attach stickers and other signs to personalise their vehicles.
There are some of the oldest churches and mosques in the world here too.
Ethiopia is often misrepresented and underestimated in the west. It is full of incredible history, food, music and of course amazing things to take photos of.
I would highly recommend visiting the country and immersing yourself in this beautiful culture.
Chris Frangou is a musician and photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. He is lucky enough to travel around the world to perform and take his cameras along for the ride. Chris has been shooting film since he was 14 and whilst he shoots many different formats, he has a longstanding love for black and white photography.
Shot on Olympus OM-2 paired with a 50mm f1.8 (Kodak Trix for Black & White, Kodak Ektar 100 & Hillvale Sunny 16 for colour)
You can follow Chris on Instagram at @chrisfrangou.photo