Since I discovered the pleasure of group photowalks a couple of months ago, it seems lots of opportunities are arousing lately to enjoy more of these informal gathering, walking around different areas of the city accompanied by fellow photographers and sharing experiences, advice and casual talk. Today, to celebrate the 6th annual Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk, a group of roughly 30 photographers met again, ready to spend the late afternoon taking pictures at an environment that is always exciting yet I hadn't explored properly so far: Chinatown.
The first half of the walk was spent walking a very interesting road parallel to Chao Phraya River, Song Wat Road; being near the river, the road is full of small warehouses, workshops and stores, all of them run by Chinese and Thai people who give this area a very special, busy vibe that I found really appealing, emphasized even more by the presence of some unusual and characteristic European style architecture. It was late afternoon when we walked this street and, as such, the activity was not at its peak (I guess mornings are much livelier), but it was a happening road nevertheless.
|The gathering I, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|The gathering II, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
Many shops were about to close or closed already at the time of our walk, but we could still spot enough faces and peek inside several stores to get an idea of what this quarters are all about, which is business, talk, discussion, trade, negotiation, and hard work. Slightly before sunset, all that remained was small groups of people clearing the numbers of the long day, having a closing chat or simply waiting for some latecomers before calling it a day.
Just when the sun was about to disappear, and lost in a labyrinth of narrow back alleys, we suddenly ended up in the middle of a Chinese temple that was lighting up for a special celebration, and so a completely different stage in our photowalk started: after the monochrome street pictures of the previous hour, we witnessed a explosion of color here.
What a lucky fate we had today: what could have simply been one more of the numerous temples spread around Bangkok, turned out to be a festival of lights and colors, faces, masks and costumes. The local Chinese community was gathering inside the temple, sitting in chairs that had been carefully arranged in front of a generous stage, and just meters from the crowd, in the back of the stage, bordering the mighty Chao Phraya River but completely open and unconcerned, a Chinese Opera company was preparing to start the show.
There was no barrier or gate separating them from the public; they were just sitting in front of their personal, portable mirrors, delicately making themselves up with great care and dedication, untroubled by the growing number of people who was filling the temple grounds to see their performance, and ignoring the sudden invasion of photographers who, without asking for any permission, were pointing numerous cameras at them, sometimes from impossible close distances, myself included.
What a beautiful surprise and way to end our photowalk! I was carried away by the beauty of the unexpected discovery and couldn't stop walking around the improvised dressing rooms, observing how carefully all the actors were getting ready for their performance and how concentrated their were even with a nosy crowd of photographers around. After a few more rounds, I suddenly realized it was dark night, they were ready to start the show, and I was completely alone: all the rest of the photographers had silently vanished. So I packed my camera and started a lonely walk back home.
|Basic needs, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Time for oneself, GH3 + Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm|
|Preparations, GH3 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm|
|Colors and lines, GH3 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm|
|To each his own, GH3 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm|
|Concentration, GH3 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm|
|The star, GH3 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm|
|Brush & color, GH3 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm|
|Red powder, GH3 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm|
|Serious elegance, GH3 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm|
|The last touches, GH3 + Olympus M Zuiko 45mm|