Thanasorn (Rab) Janekankit is a passionate street photographer from Bangkok, Thailand. He started photography 2 years back and he is also a member of Thailand street collective “Street Nowhere”.
In his words about passion for street photography “Street photography leads me to meet new people, see new locations and perspectives, and many unexpected moments. The moment of approaching the subject, trying to maintain the proper distance with the subject and waiting for a moment that can appear and then disappear in a second get me excited and happy.”
Thanks, Rab for accepting for the invite. Please read on…
Hi Thanasorn, and thank you for joining us here today! First of all, Could you please introduce yourself?
Hi, 121Clicks, my name is Thanasorn Janekankit but everyone knows me as “Rab Thanason.” It’s the name from my Facebook. I was born in Thailand. I have been working in an advertising agency in Bangkok, Thailand for more than 10 years. Now, I’m ranked top 15 creative of Asia.
I started (a serious hobby) shooting street photography 2 years ago. And I also apply my perception from my work to create my own street photography style.
Now, I’m one of the members of “Street Nowhere,” the newest street photographer collective in Thailand.
When did you start shooting and how did this love for photography happen?
During the early years of my job as a creative, I usually carried a small digital camera with me as a way to collect ideas and perspectives from my surroundings, then use those inspirations and apply them to my work in advertising. At that time, I wasn’t interested in taking photographs for artistic purposes at all.
At the end of 2016, I met one of my colleagues who took street photography as a hobby, and learned that he had even quitted his job to pursue street photography for a year. That was the point I started to question what street photography really was. Why some groups of people seem to be crazy about it? From that point on, I found out about Thai street photography communities such as “Street Photo Thailand” and “Siam Street Nerd.” I started taking workshops with “Street Photo Thailand” and bought myself a new camera. Before I knew it, finding my own perspective of street photography has become my passion. I started to get even more serious and began the “365 Days” Project, following the path of Tavepong Pratoomwong, my street photography mentor. (365 Days is a project which one takes a street photograph every day for a year to improve one’s skill.) This project made me become addicted to carrying a camera with me at all time. If I don’t have a camera with me, I will feel like I am missing something. I guess it’s the same feeling as waking up in the morning and not brushing your teeth. I mean, you can get by during the day, but you won’t feel like you can be yourself that day.
What makes street photography so special for you?
Working in the advertising industry for 10 years, I am so familiar with having everything so exact and constructive. Whether it’s a billboard, magazine or newspaper ad, every piece of work is well planned. But this doesn’t apply to street photography! There is no control over street photography, and that’s the fun of it. I have to think ahead, be witty enough, expect what’s coming ahead, and just go with the flow. That’s very fun and challenging. The lack of control also gives unique outcomes. Each photograph is never the same. When locations, people, perspectives, the sky, the weather, the sunshine, and the time of day keep changing, you keep finding new possibilities in your photographs as well. Each photograph also tells how the photographer sees the world.
What do you think makes a memorable street photograph?
For me, there are 2 factors:
The freshness of the photo: The photo that has ideas or perspectives that I have not seen before. It can happen at a mundane location but no one has shot this exact perspective before. Sure, it can be a perspective that anyone can capture. But if you were the first to do it, that’s what makes it memorable. Photographs are just like a one-liner joke. If you get to hear it before anyone else or you hear it for the first time, it will impress you.
It catches your attention (how it affects you): It’s the elements in the photograph that conjure some certain feelings for you. It’s kind of hard to explain and there no right or wrong about it. It’s purely feeling. It also depends on the viewer’s life experience. People with different life experiences will have different feelings towards what they see. That is the reason why people have their own memorable pictures. That’s the charm of photography.
Could you please share one photograph from your portfolio and story behind it?
This picture is from a set of my trip in Varanasi, India. There is a saying among Thai street photographers that “if you’re into street photography, you have to visit Varanasi at least once.” So, I had a chance to go to Varanasi at the end of 2018. Everything was so new to my eyes. This place offers very strong cultural presence, hospitalities, and friendships from the locals. When I look at the pictures I took, I feel like I need to revisit this place again. Such a colorful city.
What do you do to keep motivated, and not lose your passion for photography?
Street photography leads me to meet new people, see new locations and perspectives, and many unexpected moments. The moment of approaching the subject, trying to maintain the proper distance with the subject and waiting for a moment that can appear and then disappear in a second get me excited and happy. Even the disappointment of missing those moments also keeps my passion alive because it keeps me wanting to look those moments again and again. You want to linger to these moments but also don’t know how long these moments will last. It’s just like sex, I guess. It’s the kind of passion that you don’t need to try so hard, because you get into it so easily and unknowingly. Hahaha. Am I over exaggerating this comparison?
Which photographers have inspired you?
I really like Elliott Erwitt. I think his work is very modern and contemporary. Even until this day, his work is still cool. But I knew street photography for only 2 years, I tend to favor this generation of photographers, such as Pau Buscasto and Siegfried Hansen. These people truly inspire me and I always keep myself up to date with their works. But those who always give me good advices are Thai street photographers, JAD JADSADA, Tavepong Pratoomwong, Sakulchai Sikitikul, Rammy Narula, Noppadol Maitreechit, Artyt Lerdrakmongkol, Akkara Naktamna, and the new generation of young photographers such as Kanrapee Chokpaiboon, Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, Angkul Sungthong, and Tawanwad Wanavit.
What camera and lenses do you use the majority of the time?
As I said before, I started from carrying a small compact camera since I started my career, so it became a habit to carry around a small camera that can fit in my pants or shirt pocket, rather than carry around a big professional looking camera. These days, I use a Sony Rx100 VI. It’s so compact with the zoomable lens, which can serve the style of how I work. It’s packed with so many functions and fits my every need. If you are starting out on photography, I recommend this one.
Any favorite photography books?
Mostly, I used to look at street photography works from the Internet and I thought that was enough. But then, I came across photo books and my mind changed completely. Flipping through photographs that were carefully arranged in the form of a book gives a special feeling that the Internet can’t give. Now I have many photo books on my shelves, but the ones I look at the most are:
- Personal Exposures by Elliott Erwitt
- All That Life Can Afford by Matt Stuart
- Good Day Bad Day But Everyday by Tavepong Pratoomwong
For me, these 3 are the best photography books. I considered it the collections of their best works. I recommend people who are interested in street photography look through these books because you will see their humor and their fun perspectives at different times, which are the styles I like.
Please talk about your 1st Photobook “RABX100”
My Photobook “RABX100” is a collection of 100 street photos that I have been taken in 1 year, from Thailand and other countries, all over Europe and Asia. The photo books will be published in limited numbers, with numbers printed on every single copies, which the hidden agenda of this book that I planned to donate all the benefits from selling without deducting expenses to The Bangkok School of Blind, which I’m very lucky to be sponsored by Sony for all the publishing expenses, and also for the special price from the publisher that is a friend of mine.
I have a grandma who is blind. I was very young back then but I remember that there’s a photo of grandpa at grandma’s house, which grandma could not possibly see. Think about it! It’s not just being unable to take photos or see photos, it’s being unable to see, even the person whom we love… It makes me realize how lucky I am, to be able to see and take photos. I’m still lucky enough because my photos have some people interested in, hence, making you come to talk to me today 🙂 The whole story would probably be the other way around if I’m blind. Therefore, I would like to use what I’m good at to help blind people in Thailand to be able to create anything for themselves or society.
I have known it sold out in 30 hours. Can you expand?
It’s a great thing and I’m very excited that my very first book is sold out within 30 hours!
I’d intended to publish Photo Book in limited numbers and never think of using the charity as a means to promote. I only posted it on Facebook and thought it would be only the teaser, but the feedback turns out that lots of people really like my photos! They reserve the books more than 80% with no idea about the details nor the price of my book, not even about where the profits of the books will be donated to. It’s something I’m very grateful for, thank you for everyone to have this much interest in it.
Do you plan to publish more?
I promised to everyone to publish it an only limited number, so I think I will keep my first book only this limited number. For now, I want to collect the photos I love for a while to create my 2nd book, which I have no idea when it’s going to happen 🙂
What does you do when not behind the lens?
Just spending time on my phone, watching Netflix, and playing with my cats at home. Oh! And doing my job as a creative as well.
What do you most appreciate in your friends?
I was born in a family that gives me the freedom to walk in my own path. I rarely get stopped by people surrounding me, whether it’s my parents, siblings, friends, or colleagues, no matter how nonsensical my actions are. This gives me a habit of never stopping myself from my own imagination. I consider myself very lucky to be surrounded by these people.
I give all the credits to these people for my ability to put unique perspectives in my photographs.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I don’t really have a big goal I must achieve but one thing I want to be able to achieve the most is always having the energy to do what I love. (I guess that is my goal.) I want to be able to continue expressing my idea and creativity, whether they are street photography, my advertising career, or any other projects that might pop up in the future. I want to be like Woody Allen who continues to make movies despite his old age. And for all these to keep happening, I wish to always have the fans who keep following my work as well.
What is your idea of happiness?
Happiness is an uncertain thing, it comes and goes and we don’t know how long it’s gonna stay with us. So, I try to seize the day, stay in the moment of happiness and enjoy every bit it as much as possible. Street photography has taught us about this idea very well!
That’s because, you never know what an amazing thing you will find along the way when you go out to take a photo. And when you find it, hold on to it and try to express it as best as you can because when the moment is gone, you can never bring it back. All you can do is, let go, and wait for something new and excited to come.
But you know what? One of the lessons practicing photography in the project “365 Days” has taught me is, “Even a day when there’s no luck at all, we can still always use our creativity to take street photography. This means that, just by changing your perspective and thinking, you can be happy, everyday.”
What is your favorite motto?
There’s one sentence that I printed on my office, it’s “Only boring people are bored.”
For me, “Boredom” doesn’t always mean doing nothing or just sitting around, but “Boredom” is more like, doing the same things over and over again and never change at all.
And the way to make life not boring is not only about going out, dancing around searching for fun. Your life may be full of parties and parties and parties till it becomes boring, and perhaps you can overcome that boredom just by trying meditation. I try to always tell myself to keep looking for something new and different, more and more and never stop creating. I think I don’t want to be ‘boring people’, to myself and everyone around me. But oh well! This is my thought for the moment now. Who knows, tomorrow I might want to keep repeating, doing the same thing over and over again.
Apart from photography, tell me about your hobbies and interests?
Actually, photography is my ‘hobby’ and considered the hobby that I do seriously hahaha.
But if asking, apart from this, what else do I do? I do A LOT of things, like reading, watching movies, listening to music, going on social media on my phone, traveling, shopping, stroll along with art museum, gardening and, taking care of my cat. But all of this nonsenses is to add… what I called “bubbles” in my head. It’s inputting the stories inside of us as ideas that we have which we never know when are we going to need it, how useful it will be one day.
You can find Thanasorn Janekankit on the Web:
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted Thanasorn Janekankit. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.