© and thanks to Sandra Osborne.
Who am I?
I am Pieter Janssen, a professional photographer living in Hoi An. I was born in The Netherlands, the worst cricket playing nation in the world. My photography life started in 1981 and my first camera was a little one, 35mm film and only manual settings. Later I upgraded to my first SLR and then everything got a bit more serious. In 2000 I could not resist buying my first digital camera, the wonderful Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F505, a whopping 1,9 megapixel camera. the smallest memory cards were just 1 megabyte!
When living in Hong Kong I made the decision to say NO to my normal job(s) and to promote my long time hobby into a profession. That was easier said than done. Particularly because marketing myself was totally alien to me and it took a while to even get a little bit into that.
I did all sorts of assignments and continued doing this when I moved to Vietnam in 2005. First Hanoi and since 2012 Hoi An. A personal highlight was working for the Dutch Embassy when the future king and queen of the Netherlands were visiting Hanoi. I got very close to them and captured them visiting all sorts of places and having meetings with the Vietnamese president and the prime minister.
My photographs have been featured in books, magazines, travel brochures and advertising. In Hanoi I also had a few exhibitions.
I started developing courses in 2008. Photography training really kicked off after moving to Hoi An, where I have done millions of photo tours in the past six years.
These days I concentrate more on the teaching part of photography, although I still do the occasional assignments. My approach to teaching photography is informal, informative and fun. For me it is very important that everybody learns something, while having a good time. Apart from photography you will also learn more about the local culture. Knowing more about the culture of a new country will make you understand better what you can and cannot do. You would be surprised how far you can take it in Vietnam and how many opportunities will arise when you interact with locals.
I would like to consider my tours as a voyage. Not only do I teach you about photography, I also take you on a trip where you become part of a new world, ready to be discovered by you. On my tours you learn a lot about the local culture too. Particularly for portrait photography it is essential to know a little bit about the culture, to know more about the do’s and don’ts. And I take this as far as I can.
A touch of culture
These shots were taken (by smart phone) somewhere at a new year party somewhere on the roadside.
Locals had set up a speaker system outside at maximum volume and were celebrating the new lunar year. Quickly we were welcomed and encouraged to have a few drinks. Did you ever drink beer from a bowl? It was my first time and we had an unforgettable experience.
One important fact to mention that if there is one thing I truly hate it in Vietnam it is karaoke. Especially around lunar new year locals set up karaoke systems just anywhere at distortion levels and for two weeks straight I hardly had any peace and quiet at my house due to all neighbours singing at any time of the day, even till after midnight. I could not even hear my phone ringing. But I made the group part of the experience and set aside my personal interests.
What counts for me is YOUR experience.