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2021: a year in review

I must say that after a year-long break with photography tours and workshops, it has felt good to get back to work, even if it wasn’t physically. The big news for me and Pics of Asia was of course the launch of my online travel photography courses in July.

Over the first 4 months of 2021, we have created over 30 hours of online photography course videos, following me in the countryside around Hoi An. This means I have been taking quite a lot of images in the area, and I have been covering the rice harvest as well as going back to my favourite villages. 

My main challenge for this year has been to recreate the quality of a physical photography tour and convey the same knowledge, fun and dynamism online. And I am pretty happy with what we have created! We have already run 2 sessions of online courses with a dozen students and have received some great feedback such as “I am very impressed with the quality of the videos!”. I am very pleased with the result and I do believe that these are currently the best online photography course focusing on people photography available on the planet! 🙂

I also spent a good amount of time in Hoi An old town, which is slowly recovering from a couple of years without tourism. Shops are slowly opening and there are more and more activities due to some local tourism. Unlike last year, I haven’t spent that much time in the old town during the rainy season, but I was rushing to go and take photos as soon as the sun showed up. The winter light in Vietnam is quite special and we had once again the chance to capture it in a quiet city. 

Earlier in May, I had the chance to travel to the beautiful region of Song Cau in central Vietnam to photograph a 5-star property with my commercial photography business Danang Photographer. While spending an intense week shooting there, I had the chance to capture early morning photos in the salt fields of the area. I wish I could have spent more time there, and I definitely want to come back for more. There is a lot to discover there.

And I took a lot of dog photos to compensate for the fact that there were fewer subjects available in the old town! Hoi An has been very empty in 2020 and most of 2021, but tourists are slowly coming back and I am convinced that this is one of the best times ever to go and shoot in the old town and capture the chilled and slow vibes. After tourism starts again it will quickly become overcrowded again, with sellers covering the beautiful houses with their cheap and flashy souvenir stalls. 

In terms of photography style and vision, I have tried to work on a few things that recently got my interest. One of them was to try and find the right scenes where I could match the exposure in the foreground artificial light and the background natural light. I mostly applied this technique to my favourite fishing village where, very early morning, the fishmongers carry electric lights.

a group of women haggling for fish on the beach of Vietnam at sunrise

I am very excited about 2022 as I am planning to start the year with a month-long road trip in the mountains of North Vietnam! We are going to further develop our Youtube channel and create monthly videos including photo tutorials and glimpses of travel. I want to take you on the road with me and share with you the fun side of people photography! 

I have also already published my photography tours for 2022 that I will run in Vietnam. If you want to come and shoot with me and improve your photography skills, check it out! And of course, we are still running daily photography tours and workshops in and around Hoi An with our sister business Hoi An Photo Tour & workshop.

Let’s go!

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Founder of Pics of Asia, Etienne is a teacher with a photography habit.

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