05.02.2020 Ekkarat Punyatara

X100V "My Approach" - Ekkarat Punyatara

Ekkarat Punyatara

Ekkarat Punyatara, a National Geographic Thailand’s photo editor and staff photographer based in Bangkok. His photography is inspired by fascination in Thai culture that he was rooted since childhood by his conservative family. He first gained recognition for his photos in 2011 through a controversial project, It’s Personal that questioning the traditional conservative way of seeing Buddhism in Thailand. The project was a year-long documenting a group of Thai monks living in New York. His works has been published/showed worldwide, Smithsonian(USA), burn magazine(USA), Emaho magazine(India), IPA(Singapore), South China Post(China), Angkor Photo Festival(Cambodia), etc. His Instagram is selected as one of 20 Asian photographers that have the most interesting IG to follow, by IPA(Singapore). Ekkarat won international photo contests, Gold prize of Moscow International Fotography Awards, 2nd prize of Streetfoto San Francisco, 1st prize of 180 years Thai-American relationship photo contest, etc. Beside worldwide assignments as an outsider, Ekkarat will be in his home country photographing through the sight of the insider raising awareness of the social issues. 

One way or another, In order to create great artwork, artists have to find their own way to get into the right state of mind. It can be during the right time of the day or the darkest time of the night, a rough remote place with a surviving situation or a hi-society formal party with a glass of champagne, recalling a beautiful memory of family or a painful part in love life. Mine is the sense of living life that makes me feel alive. Therefore, I have to be right in the field to connect, to experience, to feel the people and the situation for taking photographs. 

This is a part of my personal project about LGBTQ families that I would like to document the love and the relationship between two people, in this case, is Janet&Nut. 

I decided to do this project since I first hearing about the unequal between the Civil Partnership Bill for LGBTQ and Civil Marriage. For example, if you are an LGBTQ couple living in Thailand and your lover is blackout or unconscious, by law(Civil partnership Bill) you can not sign the medical consent form to allow the doctor to cure your partner (only family is allowed to sign). But you know you can’t wait for long if it is a harmful case. I was so down during imagining myself not be able to take care of my partner. It is a horrible feeling. This photo series is representing the beauty of relationship which is the fundamental of love no matter what sex you are. This project aims to raise awareness of LGBTQ rights as a married couple and be able to fully take care of their family.

In order to capture the feeling, you need to understand the feeling. Listening and gaining trust is the key which the design and the size of X-100V help a lot with my approach. Janet is my old friend that I met from a documentary project 10 years ago. About 3 years ago, I heard that she got married and it seems a lot to catch up so I started off by talking just as I always do in my work. They invited me to join their lives; having lunch and dinner, playing volleyball, chilling at a pool, updating life. It was a beautiful 2 days with 2 beautiful people. They may not be the most romantic couple but spending time with them is memorable. It is really made me feel alive.

Ekkarat Punyatara, a Thai photographer based in Bangkok. He is a visual image storyteller who always raises awareness on social issues in his home country. Now he works as the sole staff photographer/photo editor for National Geographic Thailand.