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Do what you love

Two women selling bananas in the streets of Hoi An, Vietnam - Pics of Asia photo tour

Do what you love

You can consider that being my little “ego trip” of the week, but the positivism I am surrounded by is pushing me to scream it loud and clear: I so LOVE what I have been shooting for the past 7 days. Maybe it is a little arrogant from me to openly write about it, but wait, just keep reading and you’ll understand why I want to share.

Fisherman pulling his net in Vietnam

I talked about that before, but creativity is like waves in an Ocean: sometimes low, sometimes up, and always very unpredictable. Well I am, in my opinion, on the very top of the high wave now. And I love the photos that come out of it!


The thing is that I realize more and more that loving what I do is filling me up with so much energy and motivation. Unlike posting images that the general public will “like” more, and doesn’t really give me any inner satisfaction that lasts for more than 10 seconds, shooting what I love is a much deeper satisfaction. And I believe that this new positive energy that is coming out of the experience will lead me to even more creativity and better images.


Vietnamese man walking at sunrise


Of course, a photographer should always keep an ear out for a feedback on their images. There is no way you could just shoot and not listening to the critics around you. But I think a lot of photographers make the mistake of basing their decisions (and mostly creative decisions) depending on these feedbacks. They feel they should photograph and publish images that people will “like” more. After all, that may bring them more popularity, leading to success and then becoming millionaires… Will it really?


Trying to please the average viewer, who, sorry to say, doesn’t know much about photography, is a dead end. You will try to shoot your average used to do images, because you know your audience will like it. Not only this is completely pointless as your general audience will not email you and say “hey I love your (same type of images) you have been posting for months, here is some money!”, but it also terrible for your own creativity and self-development as a photographer.


Vietnamese fisherman cleaning his net


Most of these images that I love so much and have been posting for the last week have brought me in average 30% less interactions with my followers than my more “predictable wow factor” images. That should be enough to demotivate any photographers, but after a closer look at it (spending 15 minutes checking who actually liked my images is a real pain in the neck I will never do that again!) I realized that most people who have liked and commented on these latest images are photographers or people who know about photography.



And that my friends, is a real kick in the butt! Nothing could please me more than being recognized by photographers, mostly when they are photographers I respect.


Creative portrait of a Vietnamese man

Admit it, the general public does not know much about photography, and any portrait of a cute kid will make them excited. But where’s the challenge and originality in it?



So please for your own sake as a creative person: shoot what you love, and keep developing your own style! Then someone you respect as a photographer might contact you and say “Hey what you are doing here is great and original, keep doing it”, and that to me is the best reward!



Fisherman at sunrise in Vietnam


Vietnam-photo-workshop (20)


Woman riding her boat at sunrise in Vietnam


Vietnam-photo-workshop (19)


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


  1. Lynn on July 17, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    Etienne I tend to love your photographs precisely because they are often so original. Im only just starting to make the progression to ‘photographer’ rather than someone who takes photos. I have yet to master the technical side and I do think it is important to know ‘the rules’ before you can creatively break them. In my genre there are a lot of technically competant photos, much more so than I have yet consistentlt achieved but they often don’t capture what I am trying to capture which is more essense and energy than reproduction.

    The thing is, you know you can produce those ‘wow multi like’photos if you want to, but you don’t need to, you can create something more original. So you are a bit of a muse for me in that respect.

    • Etienne on July 17, 2016 at 1:40 pm

      thanks a lot, Lynn. It is true that I am not making a living from selling my images so I can have the freedom to experiment, but it should be part of all photographer’s creativity process to do so.

  2. Shannon on July 17, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Awesome, love it. It’s great timing because I’m getting into this zone right now too!

    The last image is my favourite!!

  3. Juergen on July 17, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Etienne oi!
    I love your work and I feel your passion on the images you take. Personally I think you are very good catching documentary images about real life. Through you images I see places I never visited and probably no going to.

    • Etienne on July 18, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      thanks Juergen, if you were not so busy in Hoi An we would be shooting together 😉

  4. Isabelle on July 18, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    So true that you need to focus on doing what you love…whenever you have the luxury to do it! And very true too that creativity has its ups and downs.
    Keeping those two statements in mind, it is important to take the time to do what you love – and not what is trendy (although it might be compatible), and feed your own creativity with other artists, whether they be photographers, painters, street artists, sculptors.
    Not to copy but to be inspired, so that your photos, whether technically right or not, tell the story you want to share.
    Etienne, your pictures “smell” Vietnam 😉 They definitely tell the story ! Congrats !!

  5. Fiona on July 18, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    I love your photos and appreciate the fact that they tell stories and do go beyond the standard cute photographs that is what inspires me to take ‘different’ photos but photos that I like.

  6. Paul on July 20, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Spot on. Don’t be tempted to follow the herd, but stick to your own path like an ox with a plow (maybe not the best analogy, but you get the picture). 😉
    The best career advice I got was this:- if you could do something you love and get paid peanuts, what will you choose? This is why some photographers get peanuts, but love their jobs.

  7. Valeriya on July 21, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Dear Etienne, I love the way you see the world and interpret the reality. There is so much beauty, respect, appreciation and glory in the “dull” routine of the daily. Your images are full of this love of doing/ being your true self. I just love it. There is energy coming out of the image.
    I just wanted to thank you for doing what you are doing. I wish I knew this in Stralsund – so inspiring and creative! I am sure we would have some good talks at the FH. Keep on! Best regards, Valeriya

    • Etienne on July 22, 2016 at 8:13 am

      Thanks a lot Valeriya. I also wish I had known this in Stralsund 😉

  8. Jonathan Tweed on August 6, 2016 at 5:54 am

    I love that one with the woman half hidden behind the blind. It brings such mystery and playfulness to the image.

    • Etienne on August 8, 2016 at 11:41 am

      thanks Jon! I thought the colors were working so well together.

  9. Yvonne Schnelle on January 24, 2018 at 8:44 am

    Etienne I love your work. You are the first photographer that I have seen in my limited time who shoots they way I would love to. I am hoping to do at least one of your workshops when I am in Hoi An from the 1st to 5th April this year. Can you send me some details about what you have available during this period and the cost.
    Thank you

    • Etienne on January 25, 2018 at 9:29 am

      Thanks Yvonne, I have emailed you. I will be running my usual half day photo workshops in Hoi an at that time, but if you have a chance try to join my 3-day photo workshop on April 6th!

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