Peanut farmers of Hoi An

Sunset Photo walk: just like our photography tours in Hoi An

Hoi An Photo Tour’s team didn’t stay inactive during the pandemic! With the Photo Walks, we aim to create a strong dynamic for local photographers and photography enthusiasts.

Last week, we all went into the peanut fields and it was… epic!

If you’ve been on an afternoon tour with Hoi An Photo Tour, you will likely recognize some elements described here. If you haven’t, this should definitely inspire you to join us during your next trip to Hoi An! The Photo Walks started in 2019 as the country was closing and the activity dropped significantly. In this context, keeping motivation up is never easy. Hoi An Photo Tour exists for teaching photography and sharing. Without any visitors in the country, it was impossible to run photography tours in Hoi An or just a handful of private workshops. Not even talking about the different lockdowns that made any moves very complicated.

However, the team didn’t give up its soul. This is how the idea of the Photo Walks came up. Sharing fun times and bringing motivation to the local community of photography enthusiasts! After several sessions in the old town and with the sun coming back again, we decided to take our cameras into the fields!

Catching up with farmers, like during the good “old times” of Hoi An Photo Tour! 

We all met at Snapstay Hoi An, our favourite cafe in town. Ernest, the owner, is a very enthusiastic amateur photographer. We created a partnership for different photography-related events, especially the Photo Walks. This time, Ernest even decided to close the cafe and join the fun. That was already an excellent start! After some flavorful and caffeinated drinks, we were all set up to reach the countryside just outside Hoi An. That’s a place we know very well, where we have been running tours for more than 12 years. Hoi An Photo Tour’s team members were all there, except for Fred.

The group included long term and more recently arrived Hoi An citizens. Different skills, different cameras, different approaches. Though, everyone was sharing an interest in capturing the beauty of the country and connecting with people. Once arrived, it didn’t take long for Étienne to dive into “catch up talks”. Everyone was wondering if he was still around. 

Rediscovering our favourite location from our photography tours in Hoi An.

A few standard “family questions” later, everyone was smiling and glad to see the “French photographer”! This immediately brought back the fantastic energy we usually feel during the photo tours with Hoi An Photo Tour. Let’s be honest, we’ve been missing that a lot. It was just a perfect boost for the afternoon. The sun was still quite high as we reached the fields. It’s always a mix between excitement and some stress. We never know if people are going to be around. This is also the interesting part of spontaneous and candid travel images and this is how we run our photography tours in Hoi An.

Learning to handle the situation as it is, is something we insist on when teaching photography. Hidden behind a curtain of high corn crops, they were there! We found a group of ladies and one old man working hard on the ground. They were harvesting the first peanuts. Those are mostly used to make oil. This was exactly what we were looking for!

Taking photos of busy scenes: just like in our photography tours in Hoi An!

Busy people, dust, conical hats, just the fields and… a good light! Actually, we still had to be a bit more patient. Waiting for “the best light” was definitely worth it. We split into smaller groups, exploring around until the sun went down. Étienne and some other participants went back to the village. New waves of classic questions and still a lot of smiles and welcoming attitudes. The idea was also to grab some fresh drinks to give to the farmers working. They were pretty surprised to see us coming back with that. It was, to us, a fair way to somehow show them how much we appreciated that they let us share this moment with them.

The light was turning perfect and the activity wasn’t slowing down. Some of us spent time with the gentleman who was working with the group of ladies. After a few attempts of Vietnamese language exercises, we managed to find out his age. 93 years old! What a man! Still keen for a joke or two and visibly happy to have those excited foreigners around.

The best sunset light for fantastic photo opportunities

During our photography tours in Hoi An, we always push our students to observe and take time to understand what is around them. What background could be used? How to combine more than one element in your frame? How to compose more creatively to tell a better story? This was exactly the case here. Without any proper interesting background (everyone was mostly working on the ground or standing against the blue sky), we had to play with layers. Yes, the layering game! Definitely, something that might ring a bell if you’ve ever joined a tour with us.

With such a situation, something else was becoming obvious. Some silhouette images were appearing in front of our eyes. Just needed to wait for the people to move, change positions. Like a living painting! This was an ideal situation to practice and experiment. Changing the angle, getting closer, playing with the light… So much to do, so many opportunities! Everyone was getting the most of it under the eyes of the ladies, undoubtedly amused to see those foreigners in unexpected positions! 

It’s portrait time!

As the sun was getting low, the farmers started to prepare to go back. More movements, more shots! The light was sublime, and we had the opportunity to get closer to the old cheeky man. This was a perfect portrait time. As we explain, especially during our photography tours in Hoi An, candid portraits require time and patience. When the person feels fully comfortable, when you dare to interact more with her or him, this gives usually the best results. We’re not talking here about staged portraits where you tell your subject what to do, where to sit and how to look. The main point here is to capture the moment and the “soul” of the person. Finding some special feature, a detail, a look… (if you’re into portraits, check the “À la carte” Photography Courses from Pics Of Asia Photo School).

We followed them back into the village, grabbing some last images facing the sunset. We closed this incredible afternoon with a fresh local beer by the river. A good time to discuss a bit about what happened, share our feelings and images. This was a perfect warm-up for the tours and workshops to resume with Hoi An Photo Tour. Are you ready to join us as well?

Join our sunset photography tour if you’d like to join us and meet the lovely farmers around Hoi An while improving your photography skills.