Sometimes you need to leave home in order to rediscover it. Thai photographer Kanrapee Chokpaiboon, having done just that, now has an easily identifiable style, one that makes use of a harsh, on-camera flash, a cast of curious characters, and a healthy dose of humor. His body of work, filled with images of his hometown and locales across the globe, is captured with a unique brand of intimate spontaneity.
有时候，或许当人们离开故土，才能重新发掘家乡的更多意义。对于泰国摄影师 Kanrapee Chokpaiboon 来说正是如此，在周游世界之后，他个人的拍摄风格逐渐清晰了起来：强曝光的相机内置闪光灯，记录下引人入胜的人物角色，外加一些幽默。镜头下的泰国以及其他国家，充满着一种独特的亲密与即兴感。
Chokpaiboon has kept a camera close by since high school, shooting his friends out skating and performing reckless stunts. He then went on to start a successful production company in college, but he never felt content with his work. There was always something missing. Once he moved to New York, however, a new world of possibilities opened up for him.
The three years he spent in New York were completely dedicated to taking photos. “I shot every day, but it started to get repetitive for me,” Chokpaiboon recalls. “I had the skill, but I couldn’t find my ‘voice.’”
Conversing with other photographers in the city helped steer him in the right direction. He discovered artistic merit in the flash, learned how to craft a cohesive visual narrative, and found inspiration in fashion editorials. “New York is where every artist wants to be at least once in their lives,” he says. “It spurs innovation. People just don’t care so you can do or be whatever you want.”
In New York, Chokpaiboon focused on street photography. Under his shutter, everyday scenes were infused with a surreal aura; kids playing in a fire hydrant with the water backlit by the sunset; a group of firefighters swallowed by darkness, lit only by their reflective gear despite the daylight above; seagulls and falling snow glowing in the darkness of a deserted Coney Island beach. He captured the wide breadth of what New York has to offer with a carnival-like glee.
His travels later took him to Varanasi, India, one of the most important cities of Hinduism, where worshippers believe they can find salvation by dying and being cremated there. In his series The Good Place, Chokpaiboon captures the city and its people with his typical off-the-cuff approach and brilliant colors. Despite the cultural significance of the city, he presents it with a lighthearted humor. There’s an upside-down cardboard cutout being carried along the Ganges, a man dressed in all purple seemingly walking on water, and a hedgehog being held by an ash-covered man with a diabolic smile. “Varanasi is one of those places where old traditions are well preserved,” he says. “Their beliefs and faiths are strongly present and incorporated into their daily lives. I wanted to tell my own version of what I’ve seen there.”
后来，他旅行到印度瓦拉纳西，那里是最重要的印度教城市之一，当地教徒们相信人死后在这里火化就能获得救赎。在系列作品《The Good Place》中，Kanrapee 以他一贯的即兴抓拍风格和通亮的色彩，记录下在这座城市生活的人们。虽说这是一座具有重要宗教意义的城市，他依然选择诙谐幽默的方式来呈现：倒置的纸板模型沿着恒河漂流；穿着紫色衣服的男人仿佛行走在水面上；涂满石灰的男人手拿一只刺猬，面上露出邪恶的笑容。他说：“瓦拉纳西是一个将古老传统保存完好的地方。人们的信念和信仰深深融入到他们的日常生活中。我想用自己的方式，讲述我在那里的所见所闻。”
During his time overseas, street photography started to pick up steam back home in Thailand as well. Although it wasn’t well recognized when he left, it’s now quite popular, as evidenced by photographers like Tavepong Pratoomwong and groups like Street Photo Thailand, which he’s a proud member of. “It’s so easy to take photos now and street photography is something that newcomers can explore right away, so there are many emerging new styles,” Chokpaiboon says. But it also helps that his homeland is so charismatic.
“When I returned home, it was like I came back with a new set of eyes, and I started seeing and appreciating scenes that once I thought of as really mundane and ordinary,” Chokpaiboon says. “I started finding the mismatching contrasts between people, places, things, and actions, capturing them as I saw them.” He’s been compiling these shots in his Raw Thai series, which mostly consists of charming but unconventional portraits that mostly avoids showing a subject’s face in its entirety. There’s an aunty with a purple beehive hairdo, two mysterious human figures in the street covered entirely by ocher-yellow fabric, and a gap-toothed man with a wide grin, the off-white color of teeth seemingly matching his yellow tuxedo. Then there’s a dog with purple fur, a fake palm tree desecrated by dog pee, and a hand with two thumbs.
Kanrapee 说：“回国后，我的双眼像焕然一新，开始学会发现和欣赏那些以前我觉得平凡无奇的生活场景。我开始留意那些突兀又抢眼的人物、环境、事物和行为，在发现的一瞬间用镜头捕捉下来。”他最近一直在创作《Raw Thai》系列，其中大部分是有趣的人物肖像，不落俗套的风格，其中大多数的照片所呈现的都是不完整的人物面部：一个顶着紫色蜂窝头发型的阿姨；街上两个披着黄赭色布料的神秘人；露出大大笑容的男人，稀疏的白色牙齿与黄色的燕尾服相得益彰；还有紫色毛的小狗、布满狗尿痕迹的人造棕榈树，以及长了两根大拇指的手掌。
One of the great things about street photography is its randomness. Even with skills and patience, a photographer still needs a healthy bit of luck. Chokpaiboon says he’s learned to roll with the unpredictability of the genre: “I used to pressure myself to go out to shoot and get a good photo every day. But now I only go out when I feel like it and it’s ok if I don’t get anything. It inspires me to go out and enjoy that time. It turns out that I found better scenes and subjects this way.”