When we heard that Travel Supermarket was holding their Capture the Colour contest again this year, we were excited. Last year, when the contest rolled around, we had only been on the road for a little over three weeks. We had a brand new blog and a few photos from an unfinished visit to ONE country to choose from. Still, despite all of that, we managed to land a second place spot in the Green category.

This year, things are different: we’ve been on the road for 14 months and have 47,000 (!!) shots to choose from. I’d like to say I was spoiled for choice, but as anyone entering this contest knows, it’s harder than it looks. I spent hours trawling through photos in Lightroom, flagging the shots I thought might work, and then Steph and I spent an evening debating the finer points of each candidate while we tried to narrow them down.

In the end, we came up with five entries and I am happy with all of them. This contest was a learning experience last year, and it was again this year. Slogging through every photo I took and looking at it with a critical eye with regard to story, composition and color really emphasizes what I do and don’t do well, and what I can be working on. It also tells me what kind of photographer I am, and that’s informative too. It lets me focus more on capturing what I see while worrying less about technical issues or my style. I have a style, I know what it is, and I embrace it.

Also, thanks to Ferreting Out the Fun, A Cruising Couple, Sparrow in Space, Our Big Fat Travel Adventure and Colleen Gets Lost for nominating us for this contest!

That’s more than enough preamble, let’s get to the real meat of this post: the photos.

Blue

Blue

We were sitting in a ramshackle restaurant in Kep, Cambodia looking out over the south coast of the country. The sunset had been a splash of red and gold, and a wonderful deep blue had settled over everything as the last pink of the sun died from the sky. Kep is known for its pepper and its crabs, both of which are harvested locally. The crabs are kept alive in cages that bob in the ocean just beyond the verandas of the restaurants they are served in. This old man was taking the remaining day’s catch further out to sea so that it wouldn’t be stranded in low tide the next morning; I snapped this photo as he paused to look out over the ocean, probably contemplating the same view I was, the two of us listening to the waves and waiting for the last of the day to fade away.

Green

P3310163

High up in the mountains of Northern Vietnam, past Sapa, past Ha Giang, there is a little town called Dong Van. Every Tuesday there is a huge local market that brings villagers in from hundreds of kilometers away where they do their best to sell and trade everything under the sun. The market is also a chance for far-flung acquaintances to gather, gossip and generally enjoy the company of people they don’t see very often. As the only white person for 150km, I drew a fair amount of attention at the market, but after everyone was done staring and taking cellphone photos, they essentially went back to their business and I was able to disappear (a little) into the chaos of the crowd and get some photos of the locals in their element. The market was a riot of color and noise, but I got the chance to take this shot of two old women shooting the breeze over a pile of skirts. They were probably talking about the giant, crazy white man who rode up on a tiny motorcycle. Or maybe not.

Red

PC110306

While wandering the back alleys of Tainan, Taiwan, we were greeted with many beautiful sights: temples, monuments, ancient homes, and winding alleyways. The main roads are wide and full of cars, but the side streets quickly filtered out the traffic noise and allowed us some space and peace. All the temples we saw were in various states of use—some bustling, some somnolent—and everywhere we looked people were managing to carve out some space of their own, whether to commune with their god or to simply rest. This man sat at the God of War Temple (perhaps an irony, to find such a peaceful scene at a so-named temple), and did not move the entire time we were there. It was nice to see someone so unconcerned with the world at large, especially in such a modern, bustling country, and it reinforced to me the idea that Taiwan is rather remarkable. A place at once modern and traditional, where people are free to choose one or the other as and when they need.

White

P1250917

Bali is so unlike the rest of Indonesia, many people think of it as its own country. The people, the customs, the temples, the food, everything in Bali is Balinese. Ubud, in central Bali, is a bit of a madhouse. More like a suburb of Denpasar than its own city, Ubud is being swallowed by traffic and development. We managed to find a little peace at Goa Gajah, the Elephant temple. The grounds are set down and away from the road, and as you walk down the steps into the courtyard, it’s easy to feel as though you’ve left Ubud behind altogether. This little old man was tending one of the crumbled, water-washed remnants of the temple when we found him. He paused in his work and took us around to see some of the hidden areas of the ruins we would have missed otherwise. He was happy to have his picture taken, and happy to take ours. He was also happy to ask for a modest tip for doing so. It is still Bali, after all.

Yellow

P5130211

We had been in Phnom Penh for less than a day and we were still trying to figure Cambodia out. One thing was for certain: we hadn’t seen this many saffron-cloaked Buddhist monks since Thailand. Ever captivating to the western eye, we were more than happy to grab any photos of the monks that presented themselves, even if they were doing something mundane, like shopping or talking on a cell phone. Of all the photos I took of the monks in Cambodia, I think this one gets the most right. The yellow and saffron work together perfectly, and the color carries through the entire photograph. Just the right amount of his face is showing: more and the mystery is gone, less and there is no interest. By the end of our time in Cambodia, the monks were much less mysterious (they are almost all very friendly and talkative!) but I think this photo still sums it up for me: they live a life apart from mine, and there will always be something about them that is a mystery to me.

Nominations

Here are five other blogs that I haven’t seen nominated that I think should give this a shot (or five. Ha!):

MissAdventure

Two for the Road

Expat Edna

Be My Travel Muse

Hecktic Travels

Thanks!

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! I know my “captions” are a bit verbose, but I feel as though a photo isn’t really complete unless it has a story to tell. The best photos are a combination of a good story and a good eye, and I feel as though these photos have met those criteria. I hope you, our readers, feel the same.

Whether or not I win anything in this contest, I am still glad for the chance it gives me to appraise my work, and to really think critically about who I am and how I shoot.

Thanks for looking, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Written by: Tony


As a designer by trade and a former professional photographer, there isn't much in the world of visual communication that I haven't worked on. From web projects, to museum interiors, to weddings and portraits, my career to this point has run the gamut of visual media. Born and raised in a sleepy town in southeast Minnesota, I moved to Nashville to pursue my education. I ended up meeting the love of my life and adopting the two best dogs this side of the Mason-Dixon line. I love two-wheeled transport, trying new food and am a bit of a gadget freak. I love a good book, and have music playing almost constantly. After over a decade in the same city, I'm quickly getting used to the idea of having no fixed address, and hope all of you enjoy my ramblings about our ramblings.

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Read comments (39)

  1. October 2, 2013 at 10:04 am
    Oct. 2, '13

    Holy crap you guys. That red one is amazing. How can any of us win when you post pictures like this?

    • October 3, 2013 at 12:25 pm
      Oct. 3, '13

      Thanks so much! I’ll forward your comment to the judges 🙂 I’d feel pretty lucky indeed if we could win something this year!

  2. October 2, 2013 at 10:11 am
    Oct. 2, '13

    I love that you managed to have a portrait theme running throughout. It’s wonderful! The lighting in blue is incredible… there is so much story there. Pretty sure you nailed it again. Good luck!
    Colleen Brynn recently posted..The Pictures Are The Same – The Story Is Different

    • October 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm
      Oct. 3, '13

      Thank you! People are my favorite subject, so I was glad that I could put together five shots that really met the brief, AND that I was proud of. I love the blue shot too… I love them all, but it was a great one. It’s pretty much straight out of the camera, the light was perfect!

  3. Paul Kuehn
    October 2, 2013 at 11:46 am
    Oct. 2, '13

    Being family, I’m not afraid to say you haven’t taken a bad picture yet, that I’m aware of . . . if you’re hiding the bad ones, let us see them sometime? Pop

    • October 3, 2013 at 12:31 pm
      Oct. 3, '13

      I take plenty of bad photos, believe me. The trick is really nailing the good ones. Even if you only get a few great shots, it makes all the bad shots worth it. I’m not sure the bad shots will ever escape the archives. Maybe one day I’ll do a near misses post, we’ll see.

  4. October 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm
    Oct. 2, '13

    I was never expecting to win this contest, but I have to admit, I had a tiny sliver of hope I might end up with a prize. You’ve pretty much just crushed that last remnant of hope…great photos!
    Daniel McBane recently posted..Capture the Color and Watch Other People Win Prizes

    • October 3, 2013 at 12:33 pm
      Oct. 3, '13

      Pish posh, I saw your photos, they’re good! Besides, there are five categories, and I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to win them all, if I win any. Nonetheless, thanks for the kind words, and keep up the good work yourself!

  5. October 2, 2013 at 6:35 pm
    Oct. 2, '13

    I just KNEW you would have the best photos for this contest!! I can’t imagine choosing from 47,000 shots… well done you guys!
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..My First Whale Shark!

    • October 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm
      Oct. 3, '13

      Thanks! Digging through that many photos was indeed a bit of a pain, but I’m scrounging around in Lightroom so much that I usually have a pretty good idea of where the winners are hiding. More than anything it came down to just agonizing over the last four or five in every category. I still sifted through every shot, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything though 🙂

  6. October 2, 2013 at 8:07 pm
    Oct. 2, '13

    I’ve been waiting on the edge of my seat for your entries and they are even better than I was expecting! Each is captivating and powerful, but I’m especially drawn to the yellow one. I’d wish you luck in the contest but don’t think you need it 😉
    Heather recently posted..Afternoon Tea at the Puli Hotel, Shanghai

    • October 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm
      Oct. 3, '13

      Well, we’ve pretty much made you wait until the very last minute, so I’m glad to hear it was worth it! Thanks so much for the words of encouragement, thoughts like these are what really keep me going!

  7. October 3, 2013 at 12:13 am
    Oct. 3, '13

    These are seriously gorgeous. Kudos for choosing so many spectacular shots of people. I’ve seen a lot of really beautiful landscape shots for this contest, but the ones with people almost always seem to resonate more with me.
    Jessica recently posted..8 Things That Every Traveler Should Do in Thailand

    • October 3, 2013 at 12:44 pm
      Oct. 3, '13

      Thanks! I love people shots too (obviously)! There were some landscape shots in the mix initially, but the people shots ended up winning out, and I’m glad they did. They’re more representative of what I like to shoot, and are something a little different from most other entries as well. There’s something about a great portrait that is perfectly captivating.

  8. October 3, 2013 at 2:06 am
    Oct. 3, '13

    You take such amazing people shots, my favourite is the guy in white – what a brilliant smile. You guys have posted so many amazing pics on your blog, choosing from all of them must have been painful!
    Amy recently posted..Batad: The Toughest Trek

    • October 3, 2013 at 12:46 pm
      Oct. 3, '13

      Thank you! The guy in white was a card, that’s for sure. Getting the shortlist was easier (though time consuming) than you might guess. Turns out that a lot of my favorite photos don’t fit neatly in a specific color category. If there had been a “red+blue+white” or “purple” category I would have had this thing nailed for sure. As it is, there were really only so many shots that worked in the end.

  9. October 3, 2013 at 6:59 am
    Oct. 3, '13

    Great to see you taking part in the contest as well. Lovely photos. My favourite one is the red one. This is an amazing snapshot, seriously :). I personally love taking photos of people when they eat, smile or pray :). Good luck!! Keeping my fingers crossed for you 🙂

    • October 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm
      Oct. 3, '13

      Thanks, and same to you! The guy in the red shot was completely oblivious to the rest of the world, I was very impressed by his concentration. My shots of people eating usually end up being awkward, with half closed eyes and food in their open mouths 🙂

  10. October 3, 2013 at 7:54 am
    Oct. 3, '13

    Wow, I love the color in the shots, but especially that you captured people in all of them and made them the focus of the photo! And thanks for the tag 🙂
    Edna recently posted..Endings and Beginnings

    • October 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm
      Oct. 3, '13

      You’re welcome, hope you have time to make the best of it, since we’re late to enter, as usual 🙂 Glad you like my portraits, they’re my favorite thing to shoot. I find people endlessly fascinating, and this contest served to highlight that for me.

  11. October 3, 2013 at 4:44 pm
    Oct. 3, '13

    Awesome pics! That old man at the Elephant temple is lovin’ his betel nut 🙂 My personal favorite is the blue though they are all amazing.
    Dan @ A Cruising Couple recently posted..The Ultimate DIY Guide to Cycling Vietnam

    • October 6, 2013 at 9:50 am
      Oct. 6, '13

      Thanks so much! Yeah, he was a poster child for betel overindulgence. If I had any guess, I would say that I know where our tip went… straight into the pockets of his supplier!

  12. October 4, 2013 at 12:37 am
    Oct. 4, '13

    Amazing pictures guys, I love how you take photos so much! Best of luck for the competition 🙂
    Franca recently posted..How We Tried To Love Vientiane, But Failed

    • October 6, 2013 at 9:51 am
      Oct. 6, '13

      Thank you! I’m glad you like them, knowing other people enjoy what I do always makes it worth it!

  13. October 5, 2013 at 1:02 pm
    Oct. 5, '13

    Really gorgeous pictures, and I like that they are all of people which is much more challenging than snapping a photo of some pretty floor tiles or a beautiful landscape. I think the Buddist monk with his matching umbrella is probably my favorite. I lived in a Cambodian neighborhood in Long Beach, CA for a few years (the largest Cambodian community outside of South East Asia) and I still never got used to seeing the monks in their saffron robes swarming the local businesses, strolling through the parks, and one time, lining up for a ride at Disney Land!

    • October 6, 2013 at 9:55 am
      Oct. 6, '13

      Thanks! Haha, yeah, seems like, for me at least, seeing monks do every day things just never gets old. I feel like there is this perception of them that involves them leading a very reclusive, ascetic lifestyle, which is really just a fiction. They’re regular people just like anyone else and sometimes even a monk wants to ride the teacups!

  14. October 6, 2013 at 10:42 am
    Oct. 6, '13

    A real good collection of pictures! Green and yellow are nicely captured!

    • October 10, 2013 at 12:33 am
      Oct. 10, '13

      Thanks so much! Green is one of my secret favorites (don’t tell the others!).

  15. October 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm
    Oct. 6, '13

    These are awesome! You’ve inspired us to enter as well 🙂 I especially like your Green entry.

    • October 10, 2013 at 12:36 am
      Oct. 10, '13

      Thanks! I felt like it wasn’t getting enough love, but, as I said above, I have a special place for it in my heart. Mostly because of the experience of being in that market, and feeling like I was a million miles from anywhere I had ever known, or thought I knew.

      So glad I inspired you! best of luck! Interestingly enough, I like your green photo too!

  16. October 7, 2013 at 8:54 am
    Oct. 7, '13

    WOW! These are amazing shots!! I think the yellow and white ones are my favorite, but they are all stunning. You have a knack for capturing photographs of people. That’s one thing we are quite shy about doing, but would love to do more! Great stories, too!
    Casey @ A Cruising Couple recently posted..Sunday Snapshot | Vineyard at Dusk | Charlottesville, Virginia

    • October 10, 2013 at 12:38 am
      Oct. 10, '13

      Thanks so much! One of these days I’m going to roll out some photography tutorials on this site, and many of them will be focused on photographing people. I think getting good shots of strangers is one of the hardest things to do in photography, so many factors that can trip you up.

  17. October 8, 2013 at 8:32 am
    Oct. 8, '13

    Wow – I’m truly stunned by all of your photos, Tony. These are amazing shots, and each one captures the required color beautifully. I especially love the red one, the composition is so perfect with the long red wall behind the silent man.

    Thanks so much for the nomination! My post is now up…though it pales in comparison. Best of luck winning again this year!

    • October 10, 2013 at 12:51 am
      Oct. 10, '13

      Thanks for your support! I glad you like all the photos so much, and it’s nice to hear from other bloggers who understand how hard it can be to get *that* shot. I love your red shot, it’s great and has all the right elements for a great portrait. Best of luck to you too!

  18. October 9, 2013 at 10:55 pm
    Oct. 9, '13

    Great entries this year. I was hoping you would enter the contest! I like the captions. Gives a little context for each photo.
    Carmel recently posted..GOBI DESERT TRIP, PART 2

    • October 10, 2013 at 12:54 am
      Oct. 10, '13

      Thanks, I feel like if I can’t write a good caption for an image that tells a story, even if it’s a small story, then the image isn’t as strong as it should be. I mean sometimes the story is “I ate this and it was good/bad/weird” and that’s okay, but, especially with people, I feel like my strongest shots always have that context, that little extra behind them. Glad you like my work, it means a lot to me!

  19. October 23, 2013 at 4:31 pm
    Oct. 23, '13

    These are WONDERFUL! The colors are so deep and the images jump out at you. I need to sign up for lessons!

    • October 24, 2013 at 1:20 am
      Oct. 24, '13

      Thanks so much! As I said earlier, I’m getting ready to roll out a series of photo tutorials. Check back in about a week and a half for the first one, and then I’m going to try and have one every week and a half to two weeks. Hopefully people will fins them helpful!

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