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.
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.
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!
Royal Embassy of Thailand
Henrique Filipe Ferreira