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IN THE PICTURE #76: MIKE TOWERS
In this feature called ‘In the Picture‘ we ask great photographers from all over the world to share their 10 most favorite Thailand photos with our readers. See Thailand through the lens of the photographer, read the background stories and learn more about the land of smiles.
Mike Towers is a jack of all trades, from city to landscape photography and beautiful portraits to professional photo shoots for brands and companies. And yes, we are very happy that Mike has also added his face to our now popular column! Thanks Mike!
Hi Mike! Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I am Mike, originally from the gloomy northwest region of the UK, a small town nestled in the foothills of the Pennines. I moved to Bangkok in 2011 and lived around the Sathorn area for many years before moving to On Nut, where you can find me now.
I discovered my passion for photography while at art school in the ’90s. I was intending to study Interior Design but instantly fell in love with photography; not just taking, but the whole developing and printing processes. I’ve worked as a commercial photographer, photographic printer/retoucher (before photoshop), picture editor, graphic designer, digital marketeer… the list goes on!
For the last few years, I’ve been involved with a film production company called Lanna Films shooting a documentary series about Thai Food called ‘Made In Thailand’; specifically how the leading Thai chefs are influenced by local ingredients & traditional recipes. Two episodes have aired on Eater.com/VoX Media Central Thailand with Chef Tam and Chef Prin and Esan with Chef Charlee and Chef Num.
Hope you find my series and the images below interesting.
A shopkeeper from the Koh Klang Community. Koh Klang means ‘Middle Island’, it’s a small island made up of 4 villages across the Krabi River from Krabi Town. It’s said, the iconic Thai long tail boat evolved from Koh Klang.
Probably the coolest long tail ‘captain’. I was on a shoot near Leam Sak close to Krabi making a short film for the Bangkok community based responsible tourism agency Local Alike We spent an amazing day at sea visiting small uninhabited islands, exploring caves and witnessing the amazing Krabi sunset. Our captain was ‘dressed to the nines’ so I had to grab a portrait.
What is your favorite destination in Thailand?
Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai / Chiang Rai. The Climate! There’s a reason why Bangkok is rated the hottest city in the world.
Which place / destination in Thailand is still on your wish list to visit?
I’ve never been to the North North East so this has to be on there.
I was staying at the Hotel Baan LangWang Riverside on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River to photograph the final rehearsals for the King’s Coronation in 2019. In the evening I noticed the intense golden glow from the Grand Palace in contrast with the indigo sky and modern skyscrapers behind. Of course I didn’t have to wait for a passing long tail to complete this composition.
I find some of the most picturesque viewpoints of the ever-impressive Bangkok skyline are from hotel balconies. After all, they were built with these amazing vistas as key selling points. This skyline was taken one very early December morning from The Peninsula Bangkok on the Thonburi side looking back towards Silom, Sathorn and beyond.
Which place / destination do you recommend our readers to visit and why?
The Golden Triangle, I just love how this area has 3 countries (Thailand, Laos en Myanmar) separated by the Mother of Rivers, the mighty Mekong and the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful.
Where do you like to eat?
Two restaurants I really enjoy and are not just Thai food are ‘1 Of A Kind Style‘ a Vintage Nordic furniture & restaurant and Portobello & Desire, both located in Bangkok.
One of my favourite images, I feel it is timeless — it could easily be on a spread of a 1970s or ’80s book about the river (apart from the distant KBank Ratburana building). Taken from the same hotel balcony as image No. 3, I noticed that the lights on Wat Arun only illuminate after sunset, when the sky is almost black. I wanted a lighter dusky to feel to the image so I woke at 5:00 am. and luckily Wat Arun was still illuminated, the river traffic was quiet except for this single long tail boat.
I was walking the bay pre-sunrise at Kuri Buri, near the Tolani Resort, seeking a decent foreground to complement the ongoing kaleidoscope of colours erupting in the morning sky. I watched this small fishing boat arrive earlier with the previous night’s catch, now beached from the tide’s departure. The escaping tide had created unique vein-like patterns in the sand, enhanced by intense cross-directional sun-rays as it gradually rose above the horizon. One of my favourite mornings, apart from the savage sand flies biting every centimeter of bare skin!
Tip us a nice coffee shop or bar where our readers can drop by.
So many to name but Phil Coffee Company is fab and tucked away from the crowds, 65/1 Sukhumvit 49/2, (Sukhumvit 51 in Bangkok),
What is your favorite Thai dish?
Phad Krapow is my goto and washed down with a Cha Yen (Thai Tea).
Chef Black, owner of Blackitch Artisan Kitchen in Chiang Mai. We built a pop-up studio at the back of a Jing Jai Market in Chiang Mai during “Our Mountain Our Breath”, a fundraising dinner to raise money and awareness towards the burning and forest fires around Chiang Mai. We asked the chefs to bring an ingredient that they believed best described them. Chef Black is well known for his ‘fermentation’.
Filming in the far north of Chiang Rai in the Amphoe Wiang Pa Pao. We were dinner guests of the village chief, laab and lao khao (Thai moonshine) were incredible and very plentiful. The lighting was minimal lit by a single low wattage bulb, where I noticed this elder sitting in the corner watching us as we ate and drank.
What is your favorite accommodation in Thailand?
Banyan Tree on Koh Samui is one of my favourite hotels and in the north Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort.
Do you have a (travel) tip that might come in handy in Thailand?
Avoid the typical tourist hot spots, (don’t say I didn’t warn you!).
Is there a Thai phrase or word our readers need to learn?
Jai Yen Yen ~ Chill Out!
Another image I took while exploring with Local Alike. Most people who visit Bangkok hear the story of Jim Thompson and possibly visit Jim Thompson House & Museum on Soi Kasemsan 2 down by BTS station National Stadium. On the opposite side of the Khlong, there is a small hidden community that supplied the famous Thai silk to Jim Thompson called ‘Ban Krua Nua’. Visit Lung (Uncle) Eve’s home to experience the traditional loom and silk making practices.
I included this image which clearly shows the amount of plastic garbage that washes up on Thailand’s amazing beaches and islands. Somewhere in the Straights of Malacca.
What type / brand of camera do you use?
SONY A7rIV, 12-24, 24-70, 70-200 G-Master Lences.
Where can our readers find your work / photos?
On Instagram and at www.bkk.photo.
Last question, who should we also ask our ‘In the Picture’ feature?
Check out my friend a photojournalist @jittrapon.kaicome he’s doing amazing work documenting the borders and Mekong region.
Hloyo Village is an Akha hill tribe located on Doi Mae Salong in Chiang Rai. Using traditional clay houses, they’ve built a homestay. Stay a few nights and you are guaranteed a unique experience with amazing food, many photogenic village characters and not forgetting breathtaking views and sunrises like this one.
No I haven’t slipped in a Tuscany village by accident! Toscana Valley in Khao Yai is a purpose-built resort golf and country club with its own Leaning Tower of Pisa inspired hotel, the Toscana Piazza where I took this image from.