Thailand is almost impossible to capture through the lens of a camera. Time and time again, photographs of this stunning country, including everything from the landscape to the people, succumb to the fact that pictures simply can not do it justice. There are a handful of Thai photographers, however, who are proving us wrong. From powerful political pieces to photographs that capture the essence of Thailand in a way in which viewers did not know was possible, here are the top Thai photographers to watch out for.
Ekkarat Punyatara is a staff photographer for National Geographic, and his photos certainly reflect his ability to take capture the world around him. Thailand is an incredibly difficult country to portray, both in words and in photographs. An outsider looking in might never really know what Thailand is like without experience it first-hand. Punyatara is somehow able to do just this with his breathtaking shots. He strives to portray the lives and culture of his country with the insight of an insider, all the while understanding what it is like for outsider, as he has worked on several international photo projects.
Punyatara grew up with photography. He watched as his parents took photographs and eventually followed in their footsteps. The more and more he photographs things, the more he realizes how powerful this particular medium is. He says this is why he can’t stop taking photographs.
‘And I always want better and better one,’ Punyatara said.
Inspired by the quote, ‘Sound makes music, light makes photography,’ Bangkok-based Pongsathorn Leelaprachakul put down his guitar and instead opted for a camera. That was about 10 years ago. Today, Leelaprachakul is an established street photographer, with a number of awards under his belt. One of these awards includes a third-place title at the Miami Street Photography Festival in 2014, and he was also a finalist at this same festival the following year.
Manit Sriwanichpoom’s career seemingly took off in 2002 when he was chosen as one of the world’s most interesting photographers by Phaidon Press. Later, in 2007, he was awarded the Japanese Higashikawa Photo Festival Prize. In addition to his awards, Sriwanichpoom’s career has been a memorable one. This photographer and film producer has continued to highlight some of Thailand’s most controversial issues, including the political unrest that has resulted in 19 coups d’état, 12 of them successful, since 1932. Sriwanichpoom’s most popular work is his Pink Man series, which he began in 1997. This contemporary Thai photographer has long been known to criticize consumerism in Thailand, and the series portrays a seemingly overweight man with an empty shopping cart. In combination with the pink man, there are underlying tones of Thailand’s constant political unrest and social struggle as Sriwanichpoom combines old photos of Thailand with his own pieces of work.
Artyt Lerdrakmongkol is a Bangkok-based photographer. He is also the founder of Siam Street Nerds, a website dedicated to street photography. Lerdrakmongkol is not only capturing the streets of Bangkok, however. He also has an abundance of photos featuring London, spotted with red, double-decker buses as well as the many people who roam the city’s streets. One of our favorite subjects Lerdrakmongkol continues to captures are couples caught kissing. From two young lovers making out on a bench just feet away from two women wearing hijabs, to a police officer canoodling on the street, we cannot get enough of these intimate encounters caught on camera.
This self-taught photographer believes that photographs are direct reflections of the photographer, and humor is the thing that most reflects in Akkara Naktamna’s photos. Naktamna has been producing both humorous and stunning photos since 2008. In addition to Thailand, Naktamna’s work has been recognized abroad, including at the 2013 Miami Street Photography Festival, the 2014 Xishuangbana Photo Festival in China, and the 2016 Singapore Photo Festival. With all of these awards, one would never guess that Naktamna takes photos simply in his free time. He currently works as a software engineer and is the father of one daughter. Regardless, he has produced two stunning photo books available for purchase and has taken countless photos since he picked up the hobby.
Originally from Chanthaburi, Tavepong Pratoomwong is a street photographer in the bustling city of Bangkok. Pratoomwong’s photos are both raw and captivating, with every picture seemingly candid and more interesting than the previous one. The authenticity of his photos is entertaining for viewers, capturing everything from children playing to selfie-taking pedestrians through his camera lens.
Pratoomwong has more than a handful of awards under his belt. He came in first place at the Miami Street Photography Festival in 2014, and he was one of the honorable mentions at the 2014 Urban Picnic Street Photography competition. These are just a few of the accomplishments his photography has awarded him.
This photographer may be fresh on the street photography scene, but her photos would make people believe otherwise. Tipawan Gatesomboon only starting taking photos last year after attending some street photography workshops at the Thailand Creative and Design Center. Her interest was piqued, however, and now she finds herself learning more and more every day about her newly-discovered craft. She loves trying and testing new things and techniques, but she also acknowledges she has a long way to go when it comes to photography. Be on the lookout for more by Gatesomboon.
Bert Sivakorn is a fashion photographer who has worked for some pretty big names, including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and ELLE. This freelance photographer is based in the bustling city of Bangkok, and he shoots a range of subjects. He studied fine arts at Srinakharinwirot University.