This street scene, from when I was on my little adventure in Hoi An, Vietnam, just intrigued me. I found it compelling with a number of elements but I couldn’t figure out a graceful way to combine them all into one cohesive photograph. There was the wall, with the monochromatic, faded whitewash and crumbling plaster offset by the colorful collection of impromptu street restaurant equipment strewn on the sidewalk. There was again the contrast between the mix of traditional and contemporary styles in the people’s dress and a fair amount of action happening with the customers, the chef and her helper acting as sous-chef behind the bamboo baskets.
I decided to just forgo “the rules” and make the image, but this isn’t one of those photographs that says, this is a picture of a Vietnamese woman make chicken sate on the street. It requires a bit of work on the part of the viewer and a little more than a glance to decipher exactly what is going on. I like the way you can see movement in the chef’s hand as she fans the grill with one hand and handles a knife with the other. I like the fact that it is the baskets that make the chef come to the front of the scene and not the use of depth of field that would have caused detail in the wall to be lost.
I try to put a lot of care into my photographs and most of the time this thought process happens automatically but for some reason, I wanted to look a little deeper into this one. Do you think it works?