“Etienne is a wonderful tutor for travel photography. He is an expert photographer and teaches with great clarity and enthusiasm. I can’t begin to say how much I have learned from him in such a short period of time”
“Etienne’s approach to teaching is not all one sided, he encourages everyone to add their opinions during the photo review sessions, which are another invaluable way to improve your photography, as these sessions are about constructive criticism””
“Etienne is a brilliant teacher with a passion for helping others learn a craft that he has himself mastered. He is also a lot of fun to say the least”
“First, and most importantly is Etienne’s enthusiasm as a guide and teacher. All of his tours are marked by the same huge enthusiasm for the place, the people, the photography, and for passing on his knowledge””
Etienne’s Hoi An tour was my first ‘photo tour’ and I really didn’t know what to expect. But saying that, it surpassed ALL ideas I had of what it would be like. The days started early, packing in more photography than I thought was possible. Each day we had the chance to try several different locations, subjects, and light. Although Etienne knows each location quite well, he doesn’t know exactly what will happen or who will be there, creating an atmosphere of spontaneity and being open to the experience.
One morning when the rain was unexpectedly ‘hammering down’, a dark market provided some cool opportunities for creativity and learning and several of my favourite photos from the trip. Throughout the three days, both Etienne and Drew (guest co-leader) were unfailingly relaxed, fun, and patient, while also giving helpful feedback and technical instruction.
I think my favourite day may have been the last one. In the afternoon we had several hours in a local village to wander on our own and create a ‘story’. Then we did a final wrap-up that gave everyone a chance to present their favourite photos and discuss what worked (or didn’t) in the composition. Overall, an amazing three days that were really fun and helped me to move to the next level in my photography. Looking forward to doing another trip soon!
Etienne is a wonderful tutor for travel photography. He is an expert photographer and teaches with great clarity and enthusiasm. I can’t begin to say how much I have learned from him in such a short period of time. You rarely get the combination of brilliance and kind personality in one individual, but Etienne is one of them. I have done many photo trips over the years and rate this one at or near the top. I highly recommend him for all photographers no matter what skill level they are at. Vietnam was beautiful and the sites that Etienne chose to take us to were breathtaking.
I don’t usually write reviews, good or bad, about things I have done, but this is more than a review, it’s also my way of saying thank you (reviews are important in this social media world) to Etienne for the assistance he has given me and the experiences I have had, that I would not have had without him. This morning I got up early to get out, with my camera, to catch the good light. This afternoon as I was sitting having coffee scanning the images I took, my thoughts drifted to Etienne and the tours I have done with him. Yes I have done a few Bangladesh, Myanmar, Central and Northern Vietnam and a couple of his morning and afternoon tours around Hoi An.
Not only does he know how to make a great image but his enthusiasm for making better images is infectious, hence the early rise this morning. I had participated in a few photo tours in Sydney and Brisbane before my first tour with Etienne (Hoi An Sunrise Tour back in 2012) and I always felt there was something missing. The other instructors seemed to be more about blowing their own trumpets than they did about encouraging the participants.
The only thing I expected from my first encounter with Etienne was access to parts of Hoi An that I wouldn’t find without someone like him, but I got far more than I did, or for that matter could have expected. I knew I had a good understanding of the camera settings but the little tricks that the professionals use to speed things up was what I lacked and Etienne was able to pass on his knowledge and his many years of experience effortlessly. He seems to be able to individualize the instruction for each person. He quickly realized that I didn’t like asking a lot of questions and was frankly lazy in my approach towards photography. He called me on it quite quickly on my first longer tour with him. Even though the truth hurt, at no time did he come across as disrespectful or rude, which is a talent in itself. “Your lazy Kev” - “yes your right, thank you Etienne”, obviously that’s the shortened version. Although Etienne is serious about what he does there is always time for a laugh. If you’re not having fun you will not enjoy the trip and will probably learn nothing.
So his light-hearted side is on show when needed which quickly helps to turn a group of strangers into friends. I personally have made a few (what I hope to be) lifelong friends on his tours and even a few Facebook and Instagram friends from the areas we visited. Many of the areas he takes his groups to are off the well-worn tourist track, which is made obvious when you interact with the local people and also from conversations with other participants that have visited the same country or city with other photography tours. Etienne emphasizes the need to interact with the locals, it not just about sticking a camera in someone’s face push the shutter release and walking away. It’s also about respecting the locals so both parties get something from the encounter.
Etienne’s approach to teaching is not all one-sided, he encourages everyone to add their opinions during the photo review sessions, which are another invaluable way to improve your photography, as these sessions are about constructive criticism, not just about someone pointing out everything wrong and telling you how much better they are than you. Don’t worry Etienne shows his work also and welcomes critique, both good and bad. If you are lucky enough to do a tour where he has a guest photographer, such as Drew Hopper or Quinn Ryan Mattingly (Etienne does have others that join him but these two gentlemen I have had the pleasure of meeting and traveling with) not only do you get another great photographer to help improve your image making. You also get another creative perspective which can only be a good thing.
I have recommended Etienne to a few close friends when they have visited Hoi An and they have only ever had good things to say about their experience. Personally I would quickly change my opinion if a close friend that I had recommended had anything but a great time. I know this is a long-winded review but “it was fun” or “I learned a lot” just would not cut it. In short though spending time with Etienne (Pics of Asia) would not be a waste of you time nor your money. You will enjoy if you get the opportunity
I’d like to give you some feedback on the Ninh Binh tour I attended in August and on your tours in general. As you know the tour in Ninh Binh was at least the 4th major tour I have done with Pics of Asia and there have also been a number of shorter tours over the years. There are some very good reasons why I keep coming back (it’s not only about your Gallic charm !!)
First, and most importantly is your enthusiasm as a guide and teacher. All of your tours are marked by the same huge enthusiasm for the place, the people, the photography, and for passing on your knowledge.
Secondly, it is the people on the tour. I have met so many people on your tours who I now count as great friends (including you !!) and who I keep in regular contact with. You seem to have a knack for attracting people who have the same enthusiasm and the same desire for shooting off the beaten track.
Finally for me it is the locations. Without exception all of your tours have taken me to places which I would not have visited as a normal “tourist”. This is a major part of the experience and always offers great opportunities to find places and people who have not been exposed to busloads of tourists. Of course this may require getting up at unearthly times to catch a sunrise over the river, or taking off shoes to wade through muddy rice fields but that is also part of the attraction - it's never boring !!
There is a second " finally “ and that is the improvement I’ve seen in my photography over the years. When I compare shots from the first tour to my last tour in Ninh Binh - even if I say it myself - there really is a great improvement - I see a style developing and an awareness of what I consider to be a good shot which has directly come from your tours, your teaching, the interaction with other photographers, and of course constructive criticism.
All in all, keep doing what you're doing and I'll keep coming back !!
All the best for 2018 and hopefully I'll see you at the end of the year in India !
Being a passionate amateur photographer I am always looking to learn more about the craft. When I did a morning sunrise tour some years ago I met Etienne and decided he was such an inspiring person that I signed up immediately to travel to Myanmar on one of his photography tours. The trip was amazing to say the least, I not only travelled to places where the people had very little contact with the outside world but I was suddenly learning so much about how to make a good image rather than just snapping anything that looked interesting.
Etienne is a brilliant teacher with a passion for helping others learn a craft that he has himself mastered. He is also a lot of fun to say the least !
I have travelled to Lao and Bangladesh since that very first tour, each time learning so much, meeting and becoming life long friends with many of my tour companions from different countries all over the world. Each trip was so much fun travelling with other like minded people , as well the excitement of going off the beaten track. It helped me make many images that I am proud of.
I feel my life has changed in many ways because of where I have travelled, those I have photographed and many of my fellow photographers whom I have become friends with.
I am now much more compassionate about many other cultures, particularly those less fortunate than my own. “It’s all about where we land “ Kausik our local guide in Bangladesh told me that and it is so true.
My photography has improved immensely (I Think), even though I still do know how to break the rules.
Thanks again Etienne for taking me to awesome places, also your friendship, help and advice in keeping me inspired.