The evolution of an image

It is a Sunday morning, actually I lie, it is Sunday afternoon and I am still in pj’s in bed reviewing some of my beginners photography teaching stuff, drinking tea and dunking ginger biscuits. Honesty is best I find…

Looking for a simple image that encompassed the rule of thirds and threes (I like learning rules often then to mix them up and go on and break them!) I stumbled across this shot I had taken of two khmer wives, at sunrise on the riverside in Kampot, Cambodia. Made because I loved the colour and the early morning light on the women’s hats as they chatted in front of the thronging scene of turquoise boats.


Looking harder I realised what I had thought was a seemingly innocuous image of colour, friendship and community had another story within it. When editing I looked at the image in black and white, the shapes and textures would suit it well I reasoned.

But in taking out the colour that had initially drawn me to make the image revealed in the background was a more dramatic out of focus scene. A toddlers face at the prow of a fishing boat shone out sleepily, a little stunned in the early morning light. It’s mother shouted to the people ankle deep in the river below. Bartering her catch, the child’s father behind, almost counting three with his hand.

The rule of three was still running through the theme in many ways but the light and shadows, the mothers gestures, the shadows of the passing women and the child’s face changed the story. There can be many stories in a photograph made is therefore todays lesson.

With some simple editing (and more munching of ginger biscuits aka crumbs in the bed) an image that may have been suitable for some travel photography became an image that evoked another time and hinted at the history of the Cambodian people. What photographs do you have that you can find more stories within?


Really excited about doing some beginners photography workshops in Siem Reap when I return soon and also to be helping others gain the confidence to create evoking images. No long fancy lenses nor complicated editing programmes required, just a new way of seeing and trusting your own vision. Get in touch if you would like to join one of our travel photography beginners workshops when you are visiting Cambodia, see you down the road…


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