Monsters emerging from the undergrowth, sex with mannequins, poodles riding motorbikes—it’s life as usual in the streets of Thailand. While most people go by their lives unaware of such oddities, there is a group of photographers eager to elevate these quirky moments into works of art.
In 2012, photographer Akkara Naktamna co-founded Street Photo Thailand, which he envisioned as a street-photography collective that could pave new ways for the genre in the country. “Street photography in Thailand used to be about capturing simple scenes with beautiful light, and most of the time, they were in black and white; It was all very close to the typical documentary style,” says Naktamna. “We founded Street Photo Thailand to let people know that other styles are also possible.”
To Naktamna, the core of street photography will always be people and society. Therefore the genre’s overlaps with photojournalism and social documentary are inevitable. However, members of SPT are approaching their street snaps with a humorous slant, blending candid moments with optical illusion, and making the most of what the country has to offer.
对 Akkara 来说，街头摄影的核心永远是人与社会，因此这种类型在风格上与新闻摄影、社会纪实摄影重叠无可避免。然而，SPT 的成员则为他们的街拍添加进更多幽默的成分，将朴实无华的日常与奇妙的视觉错位融合了起来，充分利用了环境所能提供的一切。
Naktamna’s idea of a perfect shot, a UFO landing in front of him, is unlikely to happen. Still, for over a decade, he has roamed the streets with his camera, capturing equally imaginative scenes. One of his favorite shots is a picture of a tissue box on a table, where the topmost tissue sticking out appears to mimic the movement and pose of dolphins on the wallpaper behind it. He knew that he only had one chance to capture it before someone pulled the tissue—which did happen, seconds later.
Akkara 认为，信手偶得一张完美照片的机率太小，犹如 UFO 突然出现一样几乎是不可能的事。但尽管如此，十多年来他依然带着相机在街上漫步，捕捉下许多充满想象力的瞬间。他最喜欢的一张照片是桌子上的纸巾盒，盒顶露出的纸巾形状看起来就像背后墙纸上海豚的动作和姿势。他知道他只有一次机会拍下它——然而几秒钟后在其他人抽出那张纸巾之前，他成功拍到了。
Often, the goal of a street photographer is to cohesively present mood, subject, composition, and light. A mindfulness of all these elements must happen in a split second before the moment passes them by. Angkul Sungthong, another member of the collective, says that he’s trained himself to keep his eyes peeled. “Because I’m a full-time office guy, I don’t have a fixed schedule for hitting the streets,” he says. “When I accidentally find an exciting scene, I have to capture the moment without thinking twice.”
通常来说，街头摄影师的目的就是将情绪、物件，结合构图和光线一以贯之地呈现出来。所有元素在刹那间到位后必须马上付诸行动，否则稍纵即逝。另外一名团员 Angkul Sungthong 则训练自己随时保持警觉，他说：“因为我是一个全职上班族，我没有能固定上街拍照的时间。”他说，“因此当我偶然发现一个激动人心的瞬间时，我必须不假思索地捕捉下来。”
Like Sungthong, many members of Street Photo Thailand have full-time jobs. They tend to compensate for their limited shooting time by always carrying their cameras with them and being extra attentive to the world around them. Thailand’s peculiar urban planning—or rather the lack thereof—poses an extra layer of difficulty to their craft. “Pavements here are narrow and tight, which forces us to think fast in order to get a good shot,” says Naktamna.
和他一样，泰国街头摄影的许多成员都有其他全职工作。为了弥补有限的拍摄时间，他们总是随身携带相机，对周遭世界格外关注。泰国当地独特的城市规划——或者更确切地说，缺少城市规划——让街头摄影变得格外困难。 Akkara 说：“这里的人行道十分窄小，逼着我们压缩思考时间，这才能拍到好照片。”
In photography, perspective is what creates the illusion of a three-dimensional scene. The members of Street Photo Thailand tend to use perspective to playfully twist scale and depth, creating illusions designed to trick viewers.
“Regular situations can look more interesting from a different point of view,” says Jetwichan Chaowadee, who holds a newfound appreciation for his city ever since he started shooting street photography. “Details are also essential; they create a whole different story and change what we see and what’s captured in a photograph,” he says.
“如果能换个角度来观看平凡的情景，事情会更有趣。”Jetwichan Chaowadee 说，自从他开始从事街头摄影，他对自己所在的城市有了全新的领会。他说：“细节也很重要，它们能创作出完全不同的故事，改变我们所见的一切。”
Issaret Chalermsopone, who works full-time as a musician, describes the shooting process as “watching people dancing in the streets.” He only needs to wait for the right moment to capture the scene. Sometimes, his photos—like the other members—are humorous, such as the shot of an infant who’s being terrorized by Sulley from Monsters Inc. Sometimes, they are ironic, such as his image of a woman who appears to have set her face on fire while praying for good fortune.
Chalermsopone notes another fundamental aspect of the practice: the capacity to see grace in the mundane. “My photos are just adding a twist to ordinary life and turning it into something extraordinary,” he says.
Jadsada In-ek, another member of the collective, relates this ability to something personal. “Our job is to take an in-depth look at the world in our own way,” he says. Without any formal training in photography, his motivation to shoot is rooted in a desire to make people smile.
Issaret Chalermsopone 的全职工作是一名音乐人，他把拍摄过程描述为“看着人们在街上跳舞”。在适当的时机出现前，他只需静静等候。有时他的作品和其他成员也一样很幽默，像是被《怪兽电力公司》毛怪萨利玩偶吓坏的婴儿照片。有时他的照片又很讽刺，比如这张祈福的女人，脸上似乎被火烧着了一样。
而另一名成员 Jadsada In-ek 特别将这种能力与个人联系起来。他说：“我们的工作是以自己的方式去深入观察这个世界。”没有经过任何正规的摄影训练，他拍照的动机源于一种想带给人们微笑的欲望。
For Sungthong, he believes there’s an artistic potential in any given scene. “Everything has its unique beauty if you pay enough attention,” he says. “I think my photos reflect the fact that Thai people are fun and positive. Sometimes, they can look weird or messy. But there is always beauty in them.”
对于 Angkul 来说，他相信任何场景都富有艺术性。他说：“如果你花上够多的注意力，所有事物都有它独特的美。”他说，“我认为我的照片反映了泰国人有趣和积极的品质。有时候图景看起来很奇怪或凌乱，但它总有美丽的一面。”
Contributor: Tomas Pinheiro
Chinese Translation: Olivia Li