I seldom seem to be on the other end of the lens these days. In fact, if you look at my personal Facebook page if you happen to have access to it (as opposed to my business one), you’ll see that I’ve hardly uploaded any photographs of myself since becoming a photographer back in 2010. It’s a funny thing, and I can’t quite explain it.
An exception came recently when photography students Natladaporn Sansanasuphaphong and Pattrawadee Sereesintinanon were invited by the Foundation for Older Persons’ Development (FOPDEV) to join me on my assignment for HelpAge International in Fang District of Thailand’s Chiang Mai Province. FOPDEV frequently engages volunteers to help them tell their story, and they hoped that a couple of them might learn some tricks from me!
When I got back to Chiang Mai after the fieldwork was done, I found a bunch of Facebook friend invites waiting for me. After I accepted them, photos of me in action started appearing on my timeline! Here’s a selection of these ‘behind the scenes’ images:
Photographing Noom Padawan and her grandson Siwat.
Shooting in the rain (left); showing the subject her image (right). The students also learn how to shoot and develop the ‘old school’ way, using an analogue camera and a darkroom.
Interviewing Bua Kum Jongkam with the help of my Thai translator, Pim.
Interviewing village ‘head man’, Chan Wipak.
Team photo with my wonderful team, after a job well done!
Do you remember I wrote about photographers giving back? That time, I was relating my experience of having met a charming old man named M Balasubramaniam in the South Indian city of Madurai. He had clearly touched so many hearts over the years, and people – including at least one photographer – had felt moved to ‘give back’ to him in whatever ways came naturally to them.
Today, I’d like to share a couple more glimpses of this wonderful gesture. I’ve been working in Fang District of Thailand’s Chiang Mai Province, close to the country’s hilly border with Burma (Myanmar). I’m on commission from HelpAge International, telling some of the stories of impact of the disaster risk reduction work done by them and their partners in this climate change affected region. Many of the beneficiaries are elderly people. A few of them recounted to me how a team of CSR volunteers, staff of Prudential from around Asia (‘PRUvolunteers’), had come to rebuild or strengthen their homes, so that they would be safer in the event of a future disaster.
While they were there, these young people had of course taken a lot of photographs to help them remember their volunteering experiences, and the bonds they’d built while working for these elderly people. These photographs were not just for them to take home with them. When they left, they gave a gift of one large size black and white image mounted on canvas to each of their hosts to treasure. See for yourself below.
Moon Sompanjan, aged 88, proudly displays the image he was given of himself with his granddaughter.
Beaukam Inthasom, aged 76, with her photo.