Thailand – 500 years of interchange

Last February, there was something special happening in Lisboa: the visit of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of the Royal Kingdom of Thailand.

To celebrate half a millenium of cultural interchange between our two cultures, HRH came to inaugurate the Thai Pavillion at Jardim Vasco da Gama, in Belém.

 

HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Princess of Thailand, and António Costa, mayor of Lisboa

I love to learn about new cultures, and was fortunate to have been invited to take part in this event.

And, being me, the camera came along to document it.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to go all the way across the globe to experience first hand all about Thai culture. But this was the next best thing!

 
 

So much happened: I saw traditional dances, tasted delicious food, discovered Khon theater and was even graced with a concert by HRH herself.

 
 

A great day, that taught me a lot. Wouldn’t have missed it for anything!
You can find the whole gallery at the end of the post.

 

How I did it

First off, you need to BE there. Sounds easy, right? Wrong.
This is not a high-school seniors ball; lots of important people – Presidents, Mayors, Ambassadors, a Princess – and tons of media looking down on you, the scruffy new kid on the block. And if you screw it up, it’ll be big time, so just *try* not to do it.

Now, way before you need to take the camera out of the bag, you need to use your people skills. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; it’s a different culture, and a big event, so do your homework!
If you’re there to chase celebrities, turn around and go back home. The Media are there doing that, and you’ll look like an idiot; there are always more interesting things going on away from them. Don’t just shoot your subjects, connect with them through your photographs.

Technically, nothing fancy going on here. Only in the last photos was a flashgun even used (by God, I must be ill!).
True, the fair weather of that day helped considerably.

During the show itself, same deal: no flash, just ambient.
 
The thing about shooting performing arts: black is black. But your camera becomes confused, trying to make everything grey, and you have to override it. Let the contrast be.
To get this, I cranked up the ISO to 800 (the max acceptable sensibility in my camera) so I could use the fastest shutter possible, with the lenses wide open.
The photos that DID have flash, later on, were simply bounced off the ceiling.

Remember KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

 

Special acknowledgements:
Royal Embassy of Thailand
Sineenat Thuillier
Henrique Filipe Ferreira
André Nóbrega