Thailand trip and newbie nerves on travel photography

I am travelling to Thailand and will be in and around Bangkok. As I have never experienced the culture of this beautiful city, can anyone provide me with a few suggestions?

One question is about locations: I understand that some areas are open to photography while others are not open to anyone taking photographs. So how about the climate of the people. Is it customary to tip or pay Thai people for allowing me to photograph them? Overall I am hoping to do my best not to offend anyone while I am there but do not want to miss any photographic opporotunities either!

I am hoping to cross into more of a documentary style as far as the faces and places of Thailand and it's amazing people.. In doing this, I am having to adjust from my style of photographing models.

With models I have much more control of the lighting, any suggestions out there of what light modifyers could most readily be carried and used without looking like a pack mule while walking around the city? So far I am opting for a wide and lens and a small 5-in-one reflector set.

I have high hopes for capturing the colors, character, and beauty of this city and the people of Thailand, any suggestions for locations, tips on culture and etiquette, and photographic equipment would be greatly appreciated! Best of luck to all of you, and really hoping to enter the Travel Photography and documentary genre of our

Photo credits: Stan Shillingburg, Vangelis.

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January 19, 2010


I haven't been to Thailand, but I'm currently planning a trip to Vietnam and was planning on stopping in Bangkok on my way back (before decided that I don't have enough time for it). Anyway, I've done a lot of research into this, because I have similar concerns for Vietnam. I know in Vietnam you have to be most careful with photography with hill tribes. Some, not all, believe that having their picture taken captures their soul. I don't believe you will have to deal with this at all though since you will just be around Bangkok. As far as paying for photographs, I know that this is frowned upon by some but you're more than welcome to do it. The thought process is that if you pay for a photograph you are contributing to a culture of begging and teaching the young that this is an acceptable way to earn of living. But again, it's your call. If you do decide to pay for a photograph keep in mind that $1 is 33 Thai Baht and don't overpay. Feel free to snap away if you are at a distance. If you want a close-up you will want to ask permission and be prepared if they ask you for money. I'm going to try and avoid any paying for photographs by interacting with the locals. Once you've gotten comfortable with people it is much easier to ask to photograph, and kids can be won over by simply showing them your camera and letting them take a picture or two. Then they get comfortable and you can ask to snap one of them. I think this is the best way to go about it...and you will most likely have a better and more authentic experience in Thailand because of this approach. Here is a link to Tipping and Etiquette in Thailand from TripAdvisor. You should check it is addressed shortly at the bottom.
Sorry for the long post. I hope this helps. I'm not sure when you are heading out, but I plan to update my blog with tips that I find for Vietnam. Since the two countries are similar you may want to check it out ( I don't have anything up yet.

January 18, 2010


I have never been to Thailand, but I always wanted to go. You will have a lot of fun! Good luck!

January 18, 2010


sounds like great fun - what a fantastic adventure - never been to thailand but i'm sure if you google some tips then you might come up with some great advice - good luck and looking forward to seeing you pics once you're back :)

January 17, 2010


thanks, gear selection is tricky...hoping to stay lightweight and versatile. hopefully some of our DT travel superstars can clue me in on some tips and tricks!

January 17, 2010


Good luck, I have never been there so no tips from my end.

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