Two, three or four men in a boat

The sun was just rising and it was the busiest beach I ever saw. I was about an hour’s drive south of Hoi An in Vietnam on an excursion with the photographer Etienne Bossot.

The activity was all about fishermen and their catch. Their boats were lying on the roadstead and the men used basket-shaped tiny boats to bring their catch ashore, where deals were swiftly made with the numerous buyers around. What seemed chaotic was in fact very well structured, rehearsed on thousands and thousands of similar mornings.

Slightly overwhelmed by all impressions and by the speed at which everything happened, I left my shoes somewhere in the middle of it all and tried to follow the action, or parts of it rather, in the water, on the shore, pointing the camera the camera to where the most interesting things seemed to happen.

It wasn’t easy. I never took so many bad photos in such a short period of time ever before, in spite of Etienne’s excellent advice and tips. I seemed always to be just a little too late, or too close, or too far away, or looking in the wrong direction.

And sometimes I forgot for a second that this was a photography excursion and just stood there in awe, admiring all these people who didn’t let themselves be disturbed in the slightest by someone running around with a camera. They had work to do and just got on with it.

“Would you like to stay a little longer or should we go for some breakfast?”, Etienne asked. Stay longer, obviously! In the end we had to move on of course, to breakfast, to visit the market and to stroll through the fishing village but hang on, I need my shoes!

I was relieved to see that they were still exactly where I had left them.