One of the most popular types of photography readers show an interest in is a genre called “street photography.”  Or maybe it’s better classified for our readers as “people photography.”  If you consider that most of the readers are coming to Thailand to see a new and interesting country and its people this makes a lot of sense.  The “exotic” part of Thailand is most often its people, and to a lesser extent its temples and other location attractions.  We’ve hit on portraits lightly, but just enough to transfer the most germane techniques to street or people photography.  In the coming weeks I’ll be covering Thai weddings, real street photography, and photographing Thailand’s people in general.  Stay tuned..

This image is significant because it’s a good representation of photographing Thailand’s people.  Taken from afar with a long telephoto lens the fisherman was totally unaware his picture was being captured.  For all he knew the farangs floating in the boat several hundred meters away were shooting the birds around him as they’d been doing all day.  Yet, one look through the viewfinder instantly showed me the concentration and determination on this man's face as he used a push pole to push his 8 meter long boat filled with fish traps among the floating plants.  He worked at this for a long time pushing his boat past hundreds of meters of plants so as to not harm them or foul his propeller before coming clear and motoring home as the sun set behind him.

This image is significant because it’s a good representation of photographing Thailand’s people.  Taken from afar with a long telephoto lens the fisherman was totally unaware his picture was being captured.  For all he knew the farangs floating in the boat several hundred meters away were shooting the birds around him as they’d been doing all day.  Yet, one look through the viewfinder instantly showed me the concentration and determination on this man's face as he used a push pole to push his 8 meter long boat filled with fish traps among the floating plants.  He worked at this for a long time pushing his boat past hundreds of meters of plants so as to not harm them or foul his propeller before coming clear and motoring home as the sun set behind him.

When photographing people you need to decide if you want to just show the person, or show the person and their story at the same time.  Far too many very good photographers I know show the faces, or heads and shoulders, and they let the face stand on its own with no story.  Good street photography shows the person and the story behind the person.  It’s not good enough to just show a person unless she’s a stunning beauty or an very unusual character of some sort.. and lets face it, to most farangs most Thai people are unusual.  So the pictures all start to look the same.

Show enough around the person to tell their story, what they do, how they do it, and how they fit in their environment and NOW you have a good people picture.  In the image above you get the man, the determination, the effort, him doing his job, and some trappings of his job.  You get the man.. and the story.  The essence of people and street photography.

What were the other photographers in the boat shooting?  This little character is very nicely presented in this image for people interested in birds.  I look at it, shrug my shoulders and think “okay, nice shot of a bird”, and immediately want to move on.  Actually it’s a very good shot of a bird if you realize how far away he was (25 meters) and how small (2-3 inches) he was.  But no matter how good, for my tastes, it just isn’t in the same league as the fisherman above.

What were the other photographers in the boat shooting?  This little character is very nicely presented in this image for people interested in birds.  I look at it, shrug my shoulders and think “okay, nice shot of a bird”, and immediately want to move on.  Actually it’s a very good shot of a bird if you realize how far away he was (25 meters) and how small (2-3 inches) he was.  But no matter how good, for my tastes, it just isn’t in the same league as the fisherman above.