Words on Photography from Thailand

Last winter I started a photography project in Thailand. I do not have the pictures to post, because I have decided to work in a long form format. Meaning, I want to think about the images as a series of pictures. I’m not sure if it will take a year or ten years to complete. I also continue to work on a few other long form form projects closer to home. Most of the great photographers I look up to work in long form format. I think enjoy working this way also. Almost a month and a half of work on this one and I feel like I’ve just started. What I do have to share are some words I wrote in a coffee shop while I was taking a break from the heat. 

Words written in downtown Bangkok:

A huge swath of colorfully-dressed commuters filled my vision, providing a kaleidoscopic terrain I was eager to study. Sunlight filtered through the slatted ceiling to anoint all it touched in euphoric shimmers of gold, and with the shade providing a dramatic counter to the riveting highlights, a beautiful texture was born. There was no need for ambitious angles or intricate camera settings. The space did the work for me. All I needed to do was point and shoot.

Spaces like the rail station – so rich in people, texture, and light – are rarities, but if you’re patient, you can find that kind of imagery anywhere. Walking around Bangkok, I always keep my eye out for interesting pockets of light. When I find one I like, I sit tight and wait for the right subject to cross through it. 

I found one of these pockets a few days ago in the form of a bright orange wall. The color reflected off the building across the street and radiated a warm molten light. I knew that a setting sun would only amplify the spectacle, so I waited until sunset and watched the rays bounce off the wall and turn the warm glow into a dazzling tapestry of color and depth. Soon I saw two people walking toward each other from opposite ends of the block. I split the frame in half with a street pole and captured the moment they walked midway into frame. 

One of my favorite photographers, Alex Webb, wrote: “One percent of everything you take is going to be special.” Those words motivate me to stay vigilant and shoot as much as possible. To achieve that one percent, I need to photograph for hours on end – like I did at the bright orange wall. That took 100 shots to get right.