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APF Interview

The 7 Stories by Tavepong Pratoomwong‎

in APF Interview/Best of street photography/Street Photography by
21366687_1667934633240614_4994814825936494152_o (1)

The 7 Stories is a new series we are starting today. We will invite photographers from all over the world to share seven of their favourite photographs and the back stories behind them. To kickstart this campaign we invited Tavepong Pratoomwong from Bangkok, Thailand.

Tavepong Pratoomwong was born in Chanthaburi , Thailand in 1981.
He has been interested in the art of photography for long time since he studied in Rangsit University. He almost stopped shooting until the end of 2013 when his wife surprised him with marriage anniversary gift. It was a ticket to Varanasi, India. That ticket , that trip was the turning point of him to take pictures again.
After he went back to Thailand he joined the Street Photo Thailand’s activities ”365 days in 2014” created by Noppadol Weerakitti. It let him go out and taking photos everyday since then.

Now He is a part of photographic collectives.
iN-PUBLiC , StreetPhotoThailand

He shared his top 7 photographs with us and here are the back stories.

1. Ant man / Bangkok , Thailand 2015 

I walked around in town recently. On the upper floor of a building I saw a man writing a note. The building itself looked clean and simple. For me, when I spot some activities on many different levels I always try to find some connection between them. 

I know the tiny man is quite cliché but I always try and find some way to make it special. Near that area there was a food cart with many dishes in front. So the first idea was make his legs dip into the dish. It didn’t work well but I continued shooting this composition. Suddenly he reached the upper beam to help him stand up. But in the photo it’s like he is jumping down to the dish below.

“ Sometimes you never know what result it will be. You have to believe in your own instincts, always concentration and keep the composition right ”

© Tavepong Pratoomwong
© Tavepong Pratoomwong

2. Share / Münster , Germany 2015

This is one of my favorite photos of 2015. In July I had a chance to join the Observe collective exhibition in Germany. After the event, I went with other photographers to the Peace Festival in Münster. It was a good day to meet many photographers from the internet whom I’d never met in person before. The Festival set up in a football-size park. When we reached it, we looked like kids running to a new playground. I saw an interesting group cutting watermelon. I thought I might get some nice action from this kind of scene, so I sat in front of them tilting my camera up to get some beautiful sky and kept shooting. 

A good thing about the festival atmosphere is people did not care much about a camera man. The shot I like the most has a rhythm of hands stacking up watermelon. The right side of the photo has a connection of many circles of hands. It’s far more than I expected in the first place.

© Tavepong Pratoomwong
© Tavepong Pratoomwong

3. The smooth criminal / Bangkok , Thailand 2016

When people realize they were a target of photography, some just ignor, some did not like and some really want to show off ! While I took photo of one man using dropper drug to his eyes. Someone jump in and try to steal his friend’s thunder. Normally I hate when a man show V sign or 
try to play with me but when I saw him do the Michael Jackson ‘s smooth criminal , I decided this guy is exception.

I got this photo when he try to do an anti-gravity lean and fall of.

© Tavepong Pratoomwong
© Tavepong Pratoomwong

4. The Horizon / Brighton , UK 2017

Last April I had an opportunity to attend the Sony world photography awards 2017 in England and then traveled to Brighton. I am very impressed with Brighton. It has a lot of beautiful light, nice people. I got one of my favorite photos this year from this city. It was a time when we were going back to the bus. While walked along the beach, I was looking for a scene to take photos. 

Suddenly, I noticed that the Brighton Old Pier’s are parallel with skyline, which only happens in a very specific perspective. I was very lucky, one of our fellow forgot his belongings at British Airways i360,  So I have the opportunity to wait for someone to fill in this frame. 

After a little wait, there was a child running to his mother. I pressed the shutter immediately. ” Some time it’s not about changing location but changing the point of view “

© Tavepong Pratoomwong
© Tavepong Pratoomwong

5. Headless Dog / Bangkok , Thailand 2014 

In 2014 I join the “365 Day in 2014” event of Street Photo Thailand. The point is to take photos every day and select the best one, then submit on their Facebook page. When I haven’t enough time I always trip around my home area. I discovered a small village where people came out to exercise after work at a playground. That day the rain had just stopped, so I had not met many interesting subjects until I found a dog chasing a cat and got some pictures. Near that dog and cat group, there was a cowardly looking dog standing in the middle of the street. I’m not interested in the dog, but the background with sphere shapes is fine. 

So I decided to take pictures of both of them but the dog suddenly turned its head back to bite something and I shot it 2-3 times. No idea of a headless dog came in my mind. I just wanted to shoot a dog and interesting background, that’s all.

“ I like dogs as Elliott Erwitt use to said They’re sympathetic. They’re nice. They don’t ask for prints. 

© Tavepong Pratoomwong
© Tavepong Pratoomwong

6. Tree man / Tokyo , Japan 2014

One day I was in Japan looking for a camera shop (Yes… if you visit Japan, your camera equipment maniac might relapse). I found a smoking area in front of a train station and a group of office workers smoking. My friend told me this is how they slake off. After taking photos for a while, I saw a little hole in a tree. What if the face of a man poked out through that hole? So I tried positioning the angle to achieve that idea. He did not realize that I was taking his photo (because I was behind the tree) and looked at the advertisements on the big LED monitor on the opposite side. That’s why he turned his face up. I took many photos vertically and horizontally. Finally, I got the best shot when I almost stopped doing it.

Treeman is one of my favorite photos and the one that changed my life. Many people know me from this photo because it was the 1st place winner in the Miami Street Photography Festival 2014.

© Tavepong Pratoomwong
© Tavepong Pratoomwong

7. Metropolis / Tokyo , Japan 2016

Last year I wanted to go and get some rare Pokemon in Ishinomaki city (They make event for help people who affected from tsunami in 2011) and going to take photo around Sendai next. 

Suddenly the earthquake in middle of the night and in the morning I got phone from my mom that my lovely dog died in Bangkok . I decided to change destination to Tokyo. I used the walk as meditation to forget those bad news, then I finally found this shot outside a coffee shop. I first shot a man and he aware of me. So I changed the subject to a woman who sitting next to him and when I try to composition framing I observe some connection.

“ Good day , Bad day , Anyway…The show must go on ”

© Tavepong Pratoomwong
© Tavepong Pratoomwong

We hope you enjoyed the back stories. If you would like to suggest names of photographers, who should be featured in “The 7 Stories”, please leave a comment.

You can follow Tavepong HERE

Interview with Spyros Papaspyropoulos from Street Hunters

in APF Interview/Best of street photography/Street Photography by
Spyros Papaspyropoulos

“Spyros is a street photographer and blogger from Greece. He had a passion for photography from a very early age. He loves the unpredictability of the genre and loves to meet new people. His images are often close ups of people as he enjoys the intimacy and challenge of getting really close. We spoke with him in length about his passion and about his very successful blog, Streethunters.net

Q. Hi Spyros, good to have you with us today, please tell us about yourself and your early interactions with photography.

A. Hello! Firstly I would like to say thank you for this amazing opportunity! I am a big fan of APF Mag and it is a true honour to be asked to be interviewed by you guys. Gratitude. I am Spyros Papaspyropoulos a street photographer born and raised in Athens, Greece that currently lives and shoots mostly in Rethymno a small town on the island of Crete. The first time I used a camera I was a young boy of about 12 or 13 and I remember that my fascination with photography was apparent even back then. My father was an amateur photographer that loved making family photos, but his true passion was for fine art B&W photography. He had a manual Nikon and a Yashica Electro 35 that has now passed on to me. I don’t know where the Nikon is. That is a mystery. Anyway, my father passed on to me his passion for photography as well! Thank you father. My first serious attempt at shooting photos was when I was 18 years old. I shot loads of portraits of a girlfriend of mine. I remember I used B&W film and I used to shoot manually, trying to figure out exposure and the works. Since then, I have always had one camera or another and I have always documented moments of my life. I must have three massive drawers of printed photos at my parent’s house with literally thousands of prints.

Spyros Papaspyropoulos interview

Q. What is it about street photography that got you hooked to the genre in the first place and what keeps you going?

A. One word. Unpredictability! I just love the unexpected. As a creative I get bored quite easily, so I constantly seek new ways to entertain myself. I found that street photography is so unpredictable and surprising that it works as a means of catharsis for my soul. It has a therapeutic affect on me; it makes me feel as if I have been meditating. The effect it has on me is so profound that when I don’t shoot I get all edgy and snappy and feel as if I am missing something. I think that when I don’t shoot I get withdrawal syndrome. What keeps me going are the same reasons. I love the unpredictable nature of the genre, the mini adventures I experience when shooting street and the awesome people I get to meet. I have found myself in strangers apartments being shown around while taking photos, or I have travelled to unknown destinations, or I have broken bread with people I have never met before and will never meet again, or I have made photos of guys wielding massive machetes wearing smiles on their faces, or I have found myself taking snaps of AK47 assault rifles stacked on hundreds of bullets and more! I just love where street photography can take me. An every day photo walk or street hunt as I like to call them, almost always ends with at least one interesting story to share. I just love that!APF Magazine

Q. Please tell us about your process of shooting on the streets. What are you like, what goes on in your mind and what attracts you to a particular scene?

A. I try to look for things that attract my attention. I work instinctively and spontaneously most of the time and I have found that in the past couple of years I really enjoy capturing interesting faces. As years go by I have noticed that I enjoy getting closer and closer. I love the intimacy of the close up shot, the thrill of it, and the way my lens plunges in the action I am capturing. When I am shooting I am usually lost in my photography. I am zoned in, totally focused on what I am doing. If I have to interact with someone after I have made his or her shot, I always make sure to wear my smile, as wide as possible and to always be polite. I think it is very important to be polite and to smile, it makes the person you talk to feel as if they are talking to a non-threatening individual and they don’t get annoyed if you take their photo.

Spyros Papaspyropoulos interviewRead the full interview in the latest issue of APF Magazine. Download HERE from the iOS store today.

Exclusive interview with GMB Akash

in APF Interview/Documentary photography by
APF magazine

GMB Akash is one of the most well known names in the photojournalism world today. A humble man who has created a legacy at a very young age. He is a source of inspiration for many photographers in Asia. Akash talks to us about his journey, the ups and downs and how he was able to conquer all odds.

© GMB Akash
© GMB Akash

Q. Hi Akash, welcome to APF. First of all let me tell you I am a big fan of your work and have been following you for a long time. Before we start, please tell our readers about yourself and what draws you to photography?

A. Twenty years ago, a boy from nowhere dreamed of having a life that he truly wanted to live. A life that is worth living, worth dreaming. People around me had no idea about photojournalism. At that time, parents supported you even if you wanted to be an artist, illustrator or an actor/singer. But ‘photojournalist’ did not exist in the circles that I was brought up in. I have been criticised for my dream every single day. When I was working with the gay community, people called me gay, when I was documenting sex workers, people pointed at my character, when I was documenting child labourers, people said he was selling poverty. I only listened to what my heart told me that is to bring out the truth in the light. Now I am working and traveling almost 365 days a year. I have photography assignments to carry out, personal photography projects to continue. Besides I have a Photography institute (First Light Institute of Photography (www.firstlightphotoshcool.com) which has hundreds of aspiring photography students. I also take One on One exclusive Photography program (www.gmbakashworkshop.com).

After all my professional commitment I also have to give time to my 500 unprivileged children who are continuing education by my self-funding, there are 50 ‘Survivors’ families whom I have to look after. I pour my heart and soul to depict the incredible human’s beings and continue to write the narrative of their life experiences. I am continuing to write and capture the beauty of the people and their souls.

© GMB Akash
© GMB Akash

Q. You have come a long way. There were times when you didn’t have the money to buy film rolls to now when people from all over the world follow you and you have won numerous international awards along the way. Tell us about the ups and downs in your journey?

A. I started photography with my father’s old camera. And my mother was the only enchanted viewer of my photographs. At the beginning it was difficult for them to understand what I wanted from my life. My freedom fighter father only wanted me to engage in something that will bring change in my country. And my dream never flew from the small window of my small house. I have experienced pain, suffering, trauma which was required to face this journey I am taking in. I was not aware of my ultimate destination, but that intense vulnerability prepared me to embrace my destiny. Now whenever I am working, if any of my photography subject cry I do not stop them, do not console them, I sit still. Because it is okay to cry and make sure to cry a lot. It is okay to have pain, suffering, and heartbreak. The tears are going to bring rainbow in our cloud. And there is no need to regret about all the mistakes we have done, suffering we have faced. If there is no trauma, there is no treasure. From the beginning, I was producing intense kind of Photo Story, which needed a great involvement from my side too. I told myself, ‘Your heart is going to take you to a fearful journey. Continue, no matter how devastating it seems. Because your heart knows where your treasure is’.

© GMB Akash
© GMB Akash

Website: www.gmb-akash.com

Photo Agency: www.panos.co.uk

Photo Archive: www.akash-images.com

Photography Institute: www.firstlightphotoschool.com

Photography Workshop: www.gmbakashworkshop.com

Read the full interview in the latest issue of APF Magazine. Download HERE from the iOS store today.

APF magazine

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