We were in Bangkok for a week recently and I intentionally left my camera at home. Sometimes when I am creating photographs, looking for them, planning them, waiting for the moment to develop, I am simultaneously plugged in to where I am and oblivious at the same time. On this trip, I wanted to practice being present, without preservation, noticing and letting the moments bloom and pass, small bright treasures as delicate in the memory as shooting stars, drifting afterward into that dreamy space between remembering and wondering whether they really happened at all.
This is a photograph I took a couple of years ago. Living in Southeast Asia, one becomes accustomed to the sight of orange-clad monks. In Thailand, boys who become monks for three months guarantee their mothers’ places in heaven. And yet, as common as it is, the glimpsed brilliance of that orange is always so striking, humility boldly announced, a visual catharsis of the Bangkok heat you swim through, a flame flickering in the crowd of traversing bodies, the one true thing you almost caught in the corner of your eye that leaves you head-turned and searching.
When shown Van Gogh’s Starry Night and asked what they see, some people will catalog the elements: “I see stars, a swirl of wind, a crescent moon, a tree, the buildings of a small town.” Others will tell the story of what’s happening: “I see a warm summer night like the ones of my teenage years when we’d sneak out of a sleeping town and lay down next to a cornfield to watch the August meteor showers. I see a warm south wind sweeping the day’s gossip and rumors away like a gentle broom in a sure hand, while crickets serenade their one true star and bullfrogs bellow their heartache into the hungry dark between huddles of dreaming trees.” I take photographs like this one because often, it’s the story that appeals to me, more than the details. But what about you? When you look at this photograph, what do you see?
This is an image I made thinking of a piece I had seen in the market. The one I’d seen in the market was not for sale, and I couldn’t find out who the artist was, but I loved the idea of it and started playing around with what I thought might have been done in it. This is the result.
The photos were taken on a Long-Boat tour off the Chao Phraya river and in Jatujak market. Each section of the image was treated through Poladroid imagining software (it’s free!).
Hope you like it.