From 2 to 8 Nov 2012, I conducted a photo project workshop for selected students from the levels of Year Two to Year Four studying at the photo department of Chiang Mai University (CMU). This opportunity has been made possible with the help of Ajarn Por, Ajarn Kant, Ajarn Man (who also brought me to a great coffee place in Chiang Mai and helped to translate my interview with veteran photojournalist Boonserm Satrabhaya) and Ajarn Klui (who is also an independent musician)—all of whom teaching at the department.
The way I have run the workshop is similar to those I have done in the past. First, participants are required to clear their ideas with me. Working with them on an individual basis, I tried to understand and challenge their motivations behind their ideas. During the shoot, I helped to refine their approaches. Again, the emphasis is in the process of developing the work rather than the outcome of producing imageries. At the end of the workshop, participants presented their projects in slideshow format at the CMU Art Museum
Here are some of the highlights from the workshop:
“Bown” Chissanupong Narmmoolnark
Like some of his fellow participants, Bown wanted his work to address all the big philosophical questions in life without seriously considering the potential and limits of the medium. I asked him what he would do if he had only 24 hours left in his life. He said he would first call his parents before walking till he dropped dead. Hearing that, I suggested that he should walk into the highways past midnight, imagining it to be his last walk while documenting the process. In this sense, I have given him a possible method to visualize his thoughts, which may or may not be related to the questions that he hoped to address. When he came back with the first set of photographs, I asked him to explain some of his chance encounters and thoughts during the walk. On the second night, Bown walked down a different highway and returned with new photographs. My edit is an attempt to reflect the anecdotes and thoughts that Bown shared, giving the work a coherent flow within the context of a slideshow presentation.
“Guy” Likasit Seeboonruang
Guy proposed a relatively straightforward project, using the medium to evoke the loneliness that he feels at night. At the same time, he wants to use photography to confront his fear of darkness and uncertainty. My edit provides a narrative structure for his idea.
“Ferin” Thanaporn Uparirat
With the help of Photoshop, Ferin superimposes elements of contemporary life onto the architectural heritage of Chiang Mai to highlight the changes that have occurred within the city.
As part of her ongoing series on Cambodian labourers working on the eastern border of Thailand, Mana Mueanmanus photographs the story of a young girl whose Cambodian mother is the second wife of a Thai man. The Cambodian wife oversees the labourers who work for the Thai man at his farmland. And because of him, the girl is able to attend school in Thailand.
“Miw” Maneenoot Boonrueang
Miw photographs the slaughterhouses in Chiang Mai, evoking the violence of these sites through its “residue”.
When Peasadat told me that he often talks to himself, I suspect what he means is that he has a lot of wondrous questions in mind, almost to the point of being a distraction. This is an attempt to visualize his thoughts in a deliberate way—putting his camera on tripod and making self-portraits. Peasadat started with images of his daily routine before producing this distinctive series, which he shot entirely in his room.
“Ize” Chalarak Rueanchomchoei
Ize re-enacts the story of little red riding hood to evoke the uncertain future that she faces as a would-be fine art undergrad in Thailand. The greatest challenge for Ize has been to create the storyboard and to execute it within the time constraint.