I hear this more and more in Thailand.  It's almost at epidemic levels.  Mostly I hear it from shop owners who for some odd reason don't want pictures taken of their merchandise.  I've experienced this in the malls, JJ Market (Chatuchuk Market live animal section), 7-11's, and even new car dealers!  It seems everyone is afraid the pictures will be used against them in some way.

Recently while in Pattaya I saw an interesting gas pump and I leaned out the window and handed my client my camera and asked him to snap a picture of this hand gas pump.


Taken at a mini mart in Pattaya

Canon 5d Mark II,  16-35mm F2.8L  @F5.6  1/20th  16mm ISO 1250


He took a few frames when all of a sudden this crazy old lady comes running out of the store demanding we stop taking pictures of her gas pump.  We smiled and moved on.

As far as I know there are no laws preventing you from taking whatever pictures you want in public and more often than not I merely smile and move on so I don't severely annoy anyone.  Besides, you never know when someone will take you photographing their gas pump too seriously and create an incident.

I wonder if this has anything to do with my recent experience in Pattaya trying to find a model.  My client wanted to learn to photograph people and we needed a 'model' to stand in for a few hours for basic technique drills.  My assistant who is a Thai lady volunteered to find someone for us.  Now mind you, this was a simple 2 hour job for someone willing to be photographed in their street clothes with no special preparations required.

She started out offering people 500 baht.  They wouldn't take it!  After two hours walking up and down Beach Road she had raised the price to 2000 baht and still she couldn't get anyone.  She arrived back very upset that she couldn't find a model and frankly I was dumbfounded.  No worries, she substitutes well as a model.. :)

Later that evening my client headed out to Walking Street and said he'd bring back a model we could use the next day.  The next day he said he couldn't get anyone to agree to be photographed CLOTHED even for 2500 baht!  All the beach road 'ladies' were gladly willing to make 500 baht in the horizontal position, but they couldn't be talked into honest work being photographed vertically for four times that much.

Why?  Well, we know they probably think its some scam.  Who would pay them 500-2000 baht just for their rather rough looks?  They probably think you're trying to lead them off somewhere.  But then consider they wouldn't trust my assistant who is a Thai lady.  Did they think she a cop trying to set them up?

Another angle is we know is pornography in Thailand is strictly illegal and very loosely defined.  Were they worried a police officer would find their image on-line and use it to extort from them?

I'm really not sure what their reasons are, but for certain things have changed from just 3-4 months ago.  3-4 months ago and for the last ten years finding someone to photograph in Pattaya, even totally nude, was as easy as waving a 500 baht note above your head.  Things have changed.

No problem, we were heading back to Bangkok and I have 4-5 very nice looking young female models on retainer who routinely pose for my clients so a phone call later we'd arranged a time and place and our mission was completed.  Still, I'm left wondering why I had this experience in Pattaya and why mostly everywhere in Thailand people are growing unreasonably paranoid about being photographed?

Until next time..