Memoirs of a Memorable Encounter
I was chatting with J about wanting to do a shoot and create interesting imagery together a while back, we had planned a few concepts through lengthy discussions and using references from both our work and inspirations online. She mentioned that she don’t usually do shoots for non-commercial purpose but she must have saw something in my portfolio which attracted her to this collaboration. The initial shoot was supposed to commence in April 2019, due to the unforeseen circumstance we all come to know about, my trip to Thailand was cancelled and our collaboration had to be postponed.
It is incredible how time flies. In retrospect, the past two years seemed like an abrupt standstill for many. Eventually, I was glad to be on a jet plane arriving at the Land of Smiles after two long years! J and I decided that the arrangement was to meet at a nostalgic café (Hong Seng Kong – A truly remarkable place) in Talad Noi, a historic riverside neighbourhood in between Yaowarat and Bangrak. It was an ancient district of unique streets and multicultural heritage, distinctly contrasting from other parts of Thailand’s capital. The session was to be an easy walkabout along the old alleys, and we planned to look for a few arranged spots such as a famous abandoned car, a Chinese tea shop and an iconic entrance of a diving school.
I had an earlier shoot in the morning and was rushing my lunch to be able to make it in time for this session. This café was not that easy to get to and getting a grab car might get me stuck in the traffic, I decided to take a train ride to Hua Lamphong MRT station and then hopped onto a bike taxi to reach my destination. I was glad to reach just on time as many of us who visit Thailand often know how bad the traffic could get and 1-3 hours of buffer for meetups is common. Upon reaching the café, I got a message from J that her car was stopped on the highway due to road tax issue and she would need some time to settle that with the authorities. No worries, I am good with sipping my ice mocha and chilling out at such a quaint and elegantly aged place while waiting for her. About slightly more than half an hour, J arrived at the café. Seemingly like a girl lost at a new place, give it to her that this was the first time she had been to the café and she mentioned that she had not been to this neighbourhood for a long time. She appeared rushed and apologetic when she saw me, but in my mind, I was simply glad she arrived safe. I got her an iced cold drink to let her cool down before confirming the wardrobe, its sequence, and the spots to shoot at.
We started off with what she came with and begin to walk around this huge café shooting at various interesting zones. Even though the sun was harsh, I was able to capture a naturalistic look of her walking around and pretending to be a patron of the place. J was really a natural, she was comfortable with coming up with her own poses yet able to take directions well. I always like this kind of exchange in a shoot, this way the photographer could concentrate on finding the right angles with a seasoned model initiating good poses. J was able to let herself loose and was not afraid of getting into the game, I could see it in the way she commits herself when portraying various emotions which I was asking for. We kept exploring and went on to the second level where there were areas with excellent ambient light, those that allow a specific amount of ray to streak in and I was able to capture interesting contrast shots of her. We took a rest at the reserved table where I was having my mocha and getting prepared for the second set. During this time, a lady walked over to us and asked if we could understand Thai language. J said she was a local and the lady started talking to her in Thai, I do get by with a little bit of their language and knew that the lady was somewhat unhappy about us using the café space. In any case, J did a quick change of the second set and we were on our way to exploring the alleys of Talad Noi. We were so glad we decided on this location as the whole area was filled with unique photo-taking scenes. In addition, J was getting into the mood and was getting comfortable in her expression. For me, I was just happily snapping away acquiring amazing pictures!
It was getting late as we started the session later than expected. I thought that J would be tired and the sun is setting fast, we did not have time left for our final set. I suggested wrapping up for the day as I could see that we both had worked hard, while J insisted on the final set as she said she was having lots of fun and she was just slightly tired. I felt the ingenuity and we decided to execute the final set. And I was so glad we did! Even though the sun was setting, I did a journalistic point-of-view shoot of walking with her through the street and took many shots which brought out her provocative mood. There were many instances where we were chatting and joking as we walked along the streets which the captures came on inherently, this style of photography is certainly my kind of thing.
We forgot the time when it got dark and realised that we should finally wrap it up as both of us were getting hungry. After the shoot, J searched around nearby and found an authentic Thai restaurant by the riverside – It was hidden in a corner seemingly unnoticed to most passer-by, another found gem in this adventure! For the record, the restaurant’s called Naam1608. This restaurant had an area where we could eat while facing the river, catching a beautiful view of the nightscape. We were happily chatting away and looking at the pictures while enjoying our dinner. I had a day filled with memorable encounters indeed!