“Try to focus on one thing – it could be one colour, one idea, any one thing, really,” instructed our photo-tour guide Gavin Gough. “Don’t just wander around taking pictures of everything!”
Now, I have enormous respect for Gavin, Bangkok-based travel photographer and teacher extraordinaire, but I was about to head into Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown, for the morning with a small group of other aspiring photographers. Trying to follow the advice to ‘focus’ in this richly textured neigbourhood, seemed an impossible task! For me, being in Chinatown with a camera is a bit like being a kid in a candy store. The environment is a sensory feast: chaotic colours are piled on top of each other in narrow shops and in bins on any available pavement; the heat and humidity are pervasive, accentuating the humming energy and the somewhat claustrophobic atmosphere; the noise of machinery combines with chatter and barter in several languages; shoppers jostle with tourists, giving way to motorcycles and coolies with over-laden trolleys. I do feel the impulse to photograph everything!
Luckily for me, the first exercise Gavin gave us was to shoot some black and white frames with a wide angle to try to draw attention to one thing. This exercise quieted my humming senses, and my target for the day came to the forefront: I decided that that I would focus on the people .
So, here are a few of the people of Bangkok’s Chinatown, going about their daily business.
Later that evening as we had drinks watching the darkness descend over Wat Arun, I couldn’t help but think about the variety of people, activities and occupations in that one small area in Yaowarat. Our daily lives are all so different, but with a little bit of work, they can all fit together.
Where ever you are, whatever you are doing, happy travels!