Photo Voyager’s website promises a great deal. In just a couple of hours you’ll learn more about your camera and its settings; the joys and horrors of light; seeing photographically; and composition. You’ll even learn how to approach people for portrait shots, or so it claims. Well incredibly, these aren’t idle boasts, it’s all true.

Pieter Janssen’s ‘Moring in the Alleys’ began in a café on the edge of the Old Town at 7am. Here much of the technical mumbo jumbo about photography was quickly reduced to an easy-to-follow understanding of the fundamentals of aperture and shutter speed and how they control light.

Photo Voyager. Local portrait 6

The Back Lanes and the Changing Light

It wasn’t quite as simple as that (ISO and other elements were touched on) but, quickly armed with the key essentials in just a few minutes, the photographers on the tour were suddenly in a position to leave full automatic settings behind, forevermore.

But it wasn’t just for beginners, some of the insights about aperture in particular, were much appreciated by the more advanced photographers in the group.

Once on the move, the alleys between Hoi An’s Tiger Market and the Old Town provided the setting and its residents became the primary subjects. Nothing was rushed and the atmosphere was buoyant with good humor. Indeed, it was emphasized that photography is an art that can’t be hurried.

The changing light was discussed around every bend and there was plenty of ‘one-on-one’ mentoring as each of us voiced our particular concerns. After 30 minutes we’d only progressed eighty meters but much had been discovered in that short distance.

People Photography

The core focus of the tour soon became clear. It was on people photography and respectful strategies were outlined on how to approach subjects before taking photos.

This 3-hour tour went way overtime. When I was forced to leave for a meeting as the group was finally meandering roughly in the direction of ‘home’, 4 hours had gone by. But there was still no hurry. Those on the tour didn’t want it to end and, for the art of photography, Pieter Janssen had all the time in the world.

Other Photo Voyager tours include the Countryside Sunset, Sunrise in Town and Hoi An by Night. Private, individual tours/sessions are also available. See Photo Voyager’s website  for prices and more information.

Revised August 2019

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    Thanks for this excellent article. Yet another thing to mention is that most digital cameras can come equipped with any zoom lens that enables more or less of any scene to get included by means of ‘zooming’ in and out. Most of these changes in the aim length usually are reflected within the viewfinder and on substantial display screen right at the back of the exact camera.


    Thanks Cvecare, this is a good point and well worth adding. We need to be mindful however that most photographers advise learners to get in close if they can. That way there are more options of angle and background etc. But often this can’t be done and so you’re right to draw attention to zooming. In some situations it’s indispensable.


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