Street and people photography in Thailand is an area I’ll continue to cover over and over again.  This genre captures the interest of visitors to the Kingdom more than any other.  More, there are more opportunities for street and people photography in Thailand than you can imagine at first thought.  I’ve said before that we need to do more to capture the ‘real’ Thais which are more representative of mainstream Thailand and I’m still committed to this.  However, this last week found me wandering around several Hmong Hill Tribe villages in Northern Thailand and I’d like to share a few of my captures.  

Street and people photography in Thailand is an area I’ll continue to cover over and over again.  This genre captures the interest of visitors to the Kingdom more than any other.  More, there are more opportunities for street and people photography in Thailand than you can imagine at first thought.  I’ve said before that we need to do more to capture the ‘real’ Thais which are more representative of mainstream Thailand and I’m still committed to this.  However, this last week found me wandering around several Hmong Hill Tribe villages in Northern Thailand and I’d like to share a few of my captures.

This image is significant because the subject is strong enough through appearance to stand on his own.

Previously I’ve commented most photographers are keen to show a close up of a craggily old face, a woman smoking a pipe or cigar, or with a mouth full of rotten teeth.. and think that because of these things the image is strong enough without a background story.  I’ve advocated for photographers to “zoom out” and show more of the environment of the subject so a story is told along with the capture.  The man and his story.  IMO it is rare that you effect a capture of a subject that by looks alone, the story is told and the interest is held.  I think this image does so.

This is a portrait of a Hmong Hill Tribe Village elder who runs his own store in the merchandise area.  Despite a weather worn face with leathery rough skin defined by character, this man is impeccably groomed and well dressed.  He does not hold the look of the “stereotypical” tribesman.  Every hair on his head and whisker on his chin is there with purpose and style.  I dare say this man is probably fending off the local ladies on a full time basis.

Technically this image is very good but not perfect.  The shiny spot on his forehead and tip of his nose are distracters.  On the plus side the colors are extremely accurate, the depth of field appropriate, and his stoic expression riveting.  The key that holds these elements together is the sharp focus.  If the image were not critically sharp the grooming would not be so apparent nor would the weathered features.  When your image is technically correct and critically sharp, it allows you to see the image in such a way as you otherwise could not.  His well exposed and critically sharp face, the colors of his skin and clothing, are well set against the dark background.

For those of you who are curious about the gear, this image was not captured with the excellent and sharp 135/2 or even the 85/1.2.  This image was captured handheld with Canon’s excellent 70-200mm F2.8 IS.  The same battle tested lens I take with me nearly everywhere.  All light is natural.  The 70-200mm F2.8 IS/VR lenses are the quintessential photojournalist lens.

 

In contrast this image is not nearly as strong.  To its credit it does tell much more of the story, and it’s even critically sharp.  But the subject is much more common, not nearly as “uncommonly” well groomed, not weathered to the same degree, and the background doesn’t ‘push’ the subject to the front in separation.  She is simply a friendly older lady selling meat on a stick.

In contrast this image is not nearly as strong.  To its credit it does tell much more of the story, and it’s even critically sharp.  But the subject is much more common, not nearly as “uncommonly” well groomed, not weathered to the same degree, and the background doesn’t ‘push’ the subject to the front in separation.  She is simply a friendly older lady selling meat on a stick.

If you have any doubts, ask yourself which of the two images you’d be most likely to see on the cover of National Geographic or Popular Photography..  (I know, wishful thinking..;o)