Where are you from and how did you get into street photography?
First of all, I wanted to say thank you for liking my photos. My name is Pong and I live in Bangkok, Thailand. From the beginning, I was not really in to taking pictures and I didn’t even have a camera of my own. I started to shoot film photography because it was trending, something that lately has become popular in Thailand and that made for a cool look. Then, I found Sun’s Blog (Artyt Sun Lerdrakmongkol). He’s a member of Street Photography Thailand (SPT) and his blog teaches about film photography. I checked it out and it was beautiful and interesting, so I started to follow his work and this led me to follow other members of SPT. So, that’s how I started my street photography journey.
I love the way you get up close! Eyes, faces, necks, you are all up in people’s space and it makes for some amazing shots! What’s your secret? How do you get so close?
I believe that if we go in with respect and a smile on our face, the subject can feel the positive energy. If the subject asks questions, I would answer them sincerely. For example, I took a photo of a tattooed man once and he asked me why, so I said, “Those tattoos looks great.” He just smiled and let me do my thing. I’ve never encountered a subject that didn’t let me take their photo. Thanks to Mhing (Kanrapee Chokpaiboon – Member of BurnMyEye and SPT), one trick that I learned from him is that I always show them their photo after I take it.
Are there any street photographers in particular that you draw inspiration from?
First is Sun (Artyt Sun Lerdrakmongkol). He led me to the world of Street Photography. I also like other people’s work in SPT and some photographers from Magnum.
Where is your favorite place to take photographs and why?
Around The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, China Town, Flower Market, and old buildings. I like to walk around and enjoy their environment. There’s a lot of beautiful and interesting things around there.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in street photography and how have you overcome them?
The most challenging thing is to make myself become better at taking photos. I used to just read on the internet and buy photo books to educate myself. Now, I decided to join workshops, which have opened up a new perspective for me. There are many great street photographers in Thailand and they teach me a lot. I recently just came back from workshop trip in India with Mhing. It was an eye-opening trip which I enjoyed very much.
What is your most memorable moment or photo from street photography?
I believe there’s always “one special photo” that made you understand the words “Street Photo”. Before that, I just randomly took any photo in my way; and, I came to think “Why is street photography so hard?”. My pictures looked normal. Then, I came across a photo of a lady running that I took while she exercised. In that moment, I knew this is the kind of street photo that I was looking for. That picture was the beginning of them all.
What has street photography taught you?
The most important thing that I’ve got from street photography is observation. It’s like you have to look for something that people don’t seem to care about. What’s fascinating about observation is that it actually reflects self-interest. Even though we see the same subject, a different photographer will always get different photos. For me, it’s fun to question the photo after I take it, to learn more about myself.
Wow, thanks for sharing that. Oh and one last question, has coronavirus affected your street photography lately? If so, what’s changed?
I just wash my hands more often and distance myself more from the subject. I’m actually afraid of it, but it’s also a kind of event that I want to take pictures of to record it.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Pong and see more of his work, be sure to visit his Flickr photostream. This photographer was selected from our Flickr group (Street Photography Magazine), where we regularly choose photographers’ work to be published in our magazine.