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Contact sheet #12

From an older picture (2015 I believe) but very relevant to me due to the recent articles I have been posting in the tutorials.

Woman with broken gloves harvesting peanuts in Vietnam


Have a chat and start taking pictures

Once again taken during my afternoon photography tour and workshop around Hoi An, Vietnam. We arrived in the fields during the peanut harvest time and there was a group of farmers busy working. As I knew most of them it was very easy for us to get close, have a chat and start taking pictures.

So this is how it started. As you can see, it is possible to take very boring pictures anytime, and no pro photographer will avoid this stage.

A photography student standing in a field with farmers in Vietnam on a photo tour with Pics of Asia


The first thing that caught your eye

Well, I am using this image to put you in the situation. You see the type of set up it was. By the way, the woman you see in the picture is quite amazing. She is a great photographer, a lot of fun and we had a great time some months later on my photography tour in Northern Laos.

As I knew the people working there I started chatting with them (which leaves my students the opportunity to take photos), and I spent quite some time with this lady in the pictures below. She is a very friendly woman and she always smiles – great subject!

The first thing that caught my eyes was her broken gloves. They have these very cool textures. Also, the orange on the green works very well, so I started with them.

A farmer with broken gloves harvesting peanuts in fields near Hoi An


Include more elements

It was fine but the image clearly lacked dynamism. Also, there is no great story to be told with just a hand on some green thing. So I had to include more elements to make the picture more interesting. I decided to move the hand at the bottom of the picture and add a little more of the woman.

Photographing a peanut farmer in Vietnam with Pics of Asia



Things were getting more interesting, but still a little too still in my opinion. I thought maybe including her face would add an extra dynamism, but I was worried I would overexpose my sky. As the sun was setting we had less and less light available. So I underexposed her a little to keep some blue in my sky.

taking photos of hoi an countryside on a photography tour with pics of asia


Add dynamics

Things we looking better, but if you look at that last picture it is too central and clearly lacks dynamism. What I had to do next is interact with her to somehow make the decisive moment happen. If you read my latest article about directing your subject you will understand. So I started with my usual small talks, and at some point (sorry I don’t remember what I said that was a few years ago!) I made her laugh.

Making people smile while taking photos with Pics of Asia


Wait for the right moment

Instantly more interesting, and you can feel there is more emotion in the picture. By the way, remember that my initial subject was her gloves, so I kept my focus on them. But still, my composition was keeping my eyes into the centre of the images, and I needed something to pull them away from it, to the edge of the frame.

Of course, as the light was coming from my left side, I knew that if she looked that way her face would brighten. So I looked at the peanut fields on my left which had not been harvested yet and asked her when would they harvest them. Of course, as she talked about these particular fields, she looked at them. Et voila!


farmer loading peanuts on her bicycle in central Vietnam for a photography tour with pics of asia


  1. Ingeborg Dannecker on May 15, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Thank you for this very instructive article! I learnt a lot and enjoyed it.
    Your photoclass, we took part in in Hoi An inspired us as well, and still we are working on pictures, which get more and more interesting.

    Greetings from Freiburg, Germany,
    Inge Dannecker

  2. Vijay Panchanathan on May 23, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Lovely way of walking us through to a near perfect image. Than you.

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