At the end of June I had the pleasure of co-teaching the Central Vietnam Workshop with Pics of Asia’s Etienne Bossot. We spent 3 days waking up at the crack of dawn, and going to some of the best locations around Hoi An and Hue to shoot. It was a great time, and even as co-teacher of the tour, I learned a lot from everyone who came along. All in all, I feel like all of the students came out with some great shots, and I hope they gained something to keep them motivated in photography.
Not only were the places we visited amazing, we got to know the people through Etienne and his knowledge of Vietnamese culture and language. He would always make small talk with locals in Vietnamese, informing us about what they said, and helping us visitors get to know their stories. That aspect really shaped my experience of the tour. It is one thing to take pictures, but another to learn about what you are documenting.
So, enough with the words. Here are some of my favorite photos I took during the workshop.
Day 1: Around Hoi An
Hoi An is an ancient Vietnamese town, which 5 years ago may not have been so touristy as it is now, but you can only show it in its true modern form if you are me. I actually found the tourists to be an interesting feature of the place.
Day 2: Hoi An and Lang Co
That afternoon we took a van to Lang Co Bay to see people working on and around the lake. There was some activity inside the lake, and we found one woman searching for clams near the edge of the water. Shortly after we were drenched by a fast moving storm.
The other great part of the tour was the food. We were able to eat at the best local restaurants with Etienne who already knows which dishes to order. The second night of the tour was at a local joint in the town near Tam Giang Lagoon. Anyways, it was the best Vietnamese food I have tried, but I don’t remember where it was, so you’ll have to join the tour to find out.
Day 3: Tam Giang Lagoon
We woke up at 4 am to be at Tam Giang Lagoon before sunrise. Some of the most interesting activity was already underway when we got there.
After our shooting in Tam Giang, we headed back to Hoi An to show the photos we made during the workshop. It was good to see what the others had shot and I was pleased at the quality of work our students had achieved. All in all I had a great time during this workshop, and a great experience sharing my love for photography with the students on the trip.
On the Pics of Asia webpage it says Pics of Asia is the best photography tour in Asia, and of course one might think, “yeah sure.” It is definitely a bold statement. However, I do really believe that Etienne’s tours are unique in that he has a huge enthusiasm for photography which he shares with his students. It was an awesome tour from my perspective. Instead of jabbering on about this and that regarding photography, Etienne shoots with you and helps keep you inspired about the place you are in. Together with his location scouting and connection to the locals, it makes the tour so worthwhile for the price he asks. If you look at his prices for the Central Vietnam tour and compare them with competing high end tours you can see Etienne isn’t in it for the money. You can’t just turn up to Vietnam as a tourist and start making amazing photos, it takes time and knowledge of where to go and how to get along with the locals. So yeah, I do agree that his travel photography workshops are some of the most awesome and best in Asia. Check it out next time you are planning a trip to Asia.