A trip to Bangkok’s vibrant Chinatown or Yaowarat
promises to dazzle the five senses in every way imaginable.
A collection of my street photography from Bangkok’s Chinatown appears
in the January 2017 issue of Sawasdee, the inflight magazine of Thai Airways.
I call my photographic style “Choose Your Own Adventure Photography” after the books I used to read as a young boy. Literally and creatively, I can go one direction and discover a remarkable photographic opportunity; or I can go another way and stumble upon something entirely different. It is this serendipity that is the beauty of street photography for me. And Bangkok’s Chinatown is an ideal place to embark on a rambling photographic adventure.
Settled by Chinese merchants in the 1780s, Chinatown is one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods and doubtless one of its most vibrant. With its belching traffic, maze of frenetic back alleys, delicious street-side hawker food (and colourful characters who cook it), glittering gold shops and ornate, elaborate temples, Chinatown is a must-do on any adventurous visitors’ list.
I recently spent four days drifting through Chinatown, without a fixed agenda or a final destination – just my camera and me. I opened myself up to chance, experiences and the people I met along the way. In doing so, I met a pair of young Thai photographers on Yaowarat Road on my first evening in town. These young men shared my passion for photography, as well as my enthusiasm for making new friends, so we arranged to meet and go shooting together the next day.
As we strode the main streets and scoured the back alleys, searching for the perfect picture, Chinatown captivated, enveloped and inspired us all. On this day spent documenting Bangkok’s feverish Chinatown, our distinct voices were our cameras, our common language was our photographs, and our unspoken credo was choosing our own adventure.