When Eric Van Eyke signed up for Catherine Karnow’s photography workshop, he was looking to improve his skills. “I wanted to study with someone whose work I admired and who is passionate about travel photography,” says the Westways creative director. “I wanted to learn what she looks for, how she sees things, and to develop new techniques.” He never expected the profound effect the trip would have on his life.
“The experience took me out of my comfort zone,” says Eric, noting that the 16-day trip through Vietnam and Cambodia was his first international trip. “But from the moment I met Catherine and her team in the lobby of our Hanoi hotel, I knew I was in good hands.”
Catherine, a National Geographic photographer, led Eric and nine other participants through cacophonous Vietnamese cities and quiet Cambodian villages, while Catherine’s Hanoi-based producer, Ngan Do, handled travel and lodging logistics and also served as the group’s translator and occasional model. The participants walked city streets, bicycled past rice fields, and visited pagodas and temples. During group sessions, Catherine, along with her co-teacher, photographer Tricia Cronin, offered instruction and critiques and led discussions. They also worked individually with students to improve their craft.
“When I’ve traveled in the past,” Eric says, “I’d get to a place and think, ‘Oh, that’s a beautiful setting, shoot it,’ not paying much attention to the people who live there. Catherine reminded me that it’s the people who make each destination special.” Throughout the workshop, the group interacted with locals, dining in their homes and listening to their personal stories. “I caught the travel bug,” Eric says. “I now have the desire to experience the world through relationships and meaningful conversations. I call it ‘people tourism.’”
On these pages, Eric shares some of his favorite images and insights he gleaned from his journey. —Elizabeth Harryman