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Contact Sheet #6

The light was just beautiful, and while walking the streets I noticed this man wearing a very colourful shirt and a nice hat. I started a little far from him (shooting with a 50mm, again!). This man is staying along the river waiting for tourists to get close, so I knew I could expect a “photo 1 dollar” kind of answer from him. So, well, I wanted to first test the potential of the photo. If I have to “invest” in this photo, I needed to know if it was worth it. Invest you wonder? Well, check this article. Sometimes, you have to go with the local customs, and in a touristic town, the custom is often money related.

So I started a bit far, and it was obvious this would make a nice photo with the beautiful sunset light and the man’s shirt. But there was way too much mess in my background. I had to get rid of it. I tried to show more river by framing vertically, but still messy. On photo number 3, I got a little closer, trying to remove the mess (how to remove much of the mess in your background!). But one of the boats was coming out of the man’s head, and still a messy background. I was not so flexible to turn around the man at the river shore was right next to him and I did not want to show it.
This is when I decided: ok, I’ll have to get much closer, let’s create a contact. I said “Chao Ong”, or “Hello old man” and he turned to me. I guess he is pretty old and could not see things very clearly, as he stared at me for a while without much reaction. Time for another shot (photo number 4). I liked the line of the boat, creating a nice dynamic. But something was disturbing: the piece of land on my background. To get rid of it I could only try to get close from the left side. Which I did. On photo number 5, I framed vertically to include a nice small boat in the background. Still some nice lines, but this is when I realized how handsome this man was! The John Wayne of Hoi An someone told me.
From that point, I just wanted to get way closer. I asked him his age, if he had kids, etc… the usual thing in Hoi An. To my surprise he did not seem to ask me back for anything, just staring. But I know the money thing would eventually come. Then a woman behind me told him “Ask him for money” in Vietnamese. By the way that is something that pisses me off, when someone is telling my subject to ask me for money. Just mind your own businesses people!

Anyway, this is when he stood up and came closer, probably with the intention of asking for something. He naturally came close to his “boat roof” which added the same colour tone too as his shirt. Very nice. He stared at me with a smile, very very nice. Then he put his hand on the roof. Very very very nice! I still had my diagonal dynamic line giving a good dynamic to my shot (his arm), all the colours playing together and a clear watery background.
As I say in most situations: “Get close, get close, get close!”

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