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Field Photography Tutorial

Posted by on Friday, 16 July, 2010 at 8:59 AM. Filed under: Gallery

Hi, my name is chi too. I have been to many indigenous people villages. Not only in Malaysia, but also in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, and Singapore. I also take photos.

That can only mean that I am a photographer who specialises in shooting photos of indigenous people. Today I am going to teach you how to take awesome photos of indigenous people, and what to look out for when you are in an indigenous village.

If you take photos… Congratulations! You are now halfway from becoming a Photographer Who Specializes In Shooting Photos Of Indigenous People…

If you are an indigenous person… congratulations, you too are halfway from becoming a Photographer Who Specializes In Shooting Photos Of Indigenous People…

If you are an Indigenous Person who owns a camera, you really don’t have to see this tutorial.


1. Always take photos of trucks that are overloaded with indigenous people. This is their only way of transport. The juxtaposition of indigenous people and modern conveniences evokes a strong sense of poignancy.

2. Women making traditional handicrafts while children watching in rapt attention gives others hope that their culture will not die out.

3. Look out for young people who seem restless. This shows the dilemma of young people who want to get out of the village and make a living in the city. If you see in this photo, the young man is decked in modern clothes while playing a guitar. Also notice the wall between him and the women, it’s a metaphor of how he is isolating himself from his community. The snow cap he is wearing is also a metaphor that he longs to migrate to a cold country.

4. Children splashing about carelessly in a river. Try to catch them as they jump into the water. The splashing of the water as they enter creates a dramatic effect. Pictures like this are great because they tend to bring your audience back to their carefree innocent childhood, even if they didn’t have one.

5. Like photo number 1, the juxtaposition of children and modern conveniences evokes even more poignancy. When shooting a photo like this, try to get the children to look directly into the lens.

6. Remember, children are your friends. Take as many photos of them as possible. Photos of enthusiastic children posing for photos make your audience go ‘awwwwwww’… Photos of children crowding around the LCD screen of still and video cameras has the same effect too.

7. What works better than a photo of a child? The picture of a child with an animal of course. Photos of animal-people interaction shows the connection indigenous people have with nature.

8. You also cannot neglect the old. It is very important to have a mug shot of an elderly person in the community. Try to have him wear traditional headgear and staring forlornly into the camera. The symbolism of a photo like this is priceless in terms of making your audience think you are damn deep.

9. Location, location, location. Always take a photo that shows how amazingly isolated the village you are in. When someone sees this photo, they will ask ‘Wah, got handphone signal ah there?’ and they will think you are one damn hardcore photographer who would go the distance to do the noble job of documenting dying culture and traditions.

10. Lastly, and I must stress how important this is. Logging trucks means that there is logging happening in the village. That means that the villager’s lives are affected. That ultimately means that you are not just a photographer who wants to exploit the indigenous people for good photos, but you care about the issues. If you look like you care about issues, people will respect you, and think that you are a great photographer.


Chi Too makes films for fun, love, and activism. In his free time, he ekes an living off editing video. His films include Paradise Bus, The Chinese Dilemma, While You Were Eating, Just Pretend, Goodbye Luang Phabang, Out Of The Closet, and more. He photographs, paints, draws, writes, and hug trees. He also sells T-shirts. Most recently, he has become a conceptual artist.

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  1. chok says
    16/07/2010 4:22 PM

    who’s the chick photographer?

  2. June says
    02/09/2010 5:15 PM

    I love this. I want to have chibabies…chibies?

  3. bibichun says
    02/09/2010 6:44 PM

    i thought chitoo did this

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