Pattaya is a paradise for Street Photography. Be prepared for a vampirish existence as this city comes awake at night. My favourite time of ‘day’ is between 2 – 5am. In the early morning hours clubs wind down and people spill out onto the streets, mingling with Buddhist Monks, hawkers, street food carts and cleaners mopping up the night’s mess. The photo below is my favourite image of the shoot, as it captures the spirit of what I was looking for.
The preferred kit included my new 28mm 2.8 Samyang Lens, which is awesome (review to come). However, I often opted for my Sony 50mm 1.8, as this glass is a little faster in low light. Once again, my Sony A7iii became the weapon of choice as the full frame sensor works wonders once the sun has gone down. I had to be discrete with many of my shots and this meant shooting at a high ISO, which I think I have got away with. Using a flash for many of these images as it would have drawn too much attention to myself.
Best time for photography 3 – 6am and 8 – 10pm
Walking Street is the most commercial area of Pattaya, and if you are careful you will be safe taking photos. The Street is lined with restaurants, bars and clubs. Prostitution is rampant, particularly after midnight. The area is frequented by hoards of tourist taking thousands of images each day, so you won’t stand out with your camera. Many of the workers will tell you to ‘f’ off, so if you want to err on the side of caution, stick to taking pictures of tourists and street food sellers. Shooting from the hip is recommended.
Best time for photography 4 – 7pm
Soi 6 is lined with ‘Lady Bars’. You cannot walk down here and take photos. Do not even try. Find a bar with a good street view and purchase a drink, opportunities will open for photography. Each bar is visited by people selling snacks, souvenirs and fake watches. If you want to take a photo of one of the bar workers, it is polite to ask first, this will also help avoid any awkward situations.
Soi 7 and 8 are are a little more mellow. There are many open bars that spill out onto the road, which makes for great photography. To get the most out of this area, it is advisable to purchase a drink, then sit back and watch life go by.
This area is filled with Gogo Bars, and most of what happens occurs inside. If you chose to explore these clubs, be aware that photography is strictly forbidden. On the street, each bar is lined with ladies enticing customers past the doors, which can make for an interesting image. There are various bars and clubs in this area. I had less success here than in the other two locations, even though it was close to my hotel.
Make sure you take the time to explore the centre of Pattong, as well as some of the back roads. The City is full of surprises!
Remember, much of the glamour and glitz is fuelled by poverty and exploitation, and this is something I hoped my images would reflect: I am not sure how successful I have been in this. Please feel free to comment. There is also the possibility of getting into some trouble here. Many the tourists come for the flesh trade, and will not appreciate their images being published online, so be discrete.
Enjoy the photos, which will be featured on their own page soon.
Take Care and Keep Clicking, Chris!