Interview with Thai Street Photographer Poupay Jutharat

I met Poupay very briefly at this past year’s StreetFoto San Francisco.

She had a pretty large crowd around one of her finalist image (she had two in the international singles category) and I decided to join in. Poupay is a very humble person and amazing street photographer to say the least. I didn’t know until the festival was over that she was also a finalist in the series category as well! Obviously, she is a very talented photographer, many of her work have been accepted as a finalist in competition (Eyeem 2016 & 2017, Brussels 2016, Life Framer, Streefoto) , all happening in the short amount of time that she’s been shooting “street photography”. Everyone keep an eye on her, Poupay is going places!

Poupay thank you for your time! You have so many wonderful images, could you tell us what it’s like when you are out shooting. Your creative process…and/or how you go about shooting the streets. What made you pursue street photography?

I started shooting street photography in 2015 when I was still living in Thailand. At that time, there was a street photography workshop from SPT (Street Photo Thailand). I joined the workshop and started shooting from then.

The one who inspired me to take street photography is Tavepong Pratoomwong. He’s one of the members in Street Photo Thailand who won the Miami Street Photography Festival 2014. One of his photos that won the award is the photo of the dog in his village. That photo changed my mind on photography. I realized that I don’t need a lot of equipment or go to another country to make a good photograph. It’s about the way you see things.

There’s been a major renaissance within the last decade in street photography and Thai street photographers have added a lot of influence on that. How did that come about?

Lately street photography in Thailand is very popular. I guess because it’s not difficult to become a photographer (but super difficult to be differentiated yourself). For me Thai street photographers are very talented but I think we don’t really present ourselves or show our work to the rest of the world.

What’s so unique about Thailand for street photography compared to NY or anywhere else in the world?

Thailand is a very absurd place, unintentionally. We have a lot of nonsense stuff that happens in public, like fake police officers stopping drunk drivers. I found this to be humorous and unique but also depressing at the same time.

In New York City, you can find weird people doing weird things everywhere. For me when you stay at one place long enough, you become immune to the weirdness around you. You don’t find them surprising anymore.

I felt this when I was in Thailand. Nothing was interesting back then. I’ve always wanted to come New York and shoot the streets. NYC is still a very exciting place for me. But I also want to go back to shoot in my country.

You’re currently living in NY, correct?

Yes. But I will move back to Thailand next year. I came here for studying in ICP’s (International Center of PhotographyOne Year Certificate Program.

If you could choose between making one iconic photo that lives forever but never produce anymore photos thereafter that you’ll be satisfied with or similar to Vivian Maier’s situation, being discovered and rewriting the history books but only after your passing. Which one would it be?

I’ll make one iconic photo then produce something else. Maybe go into film or other types of artwork. I have various interests. These days there are lots of way to make art, not just only photography.

When you’re out shooting, Have you experienced any benefits or setbacks being a female photographer?

I think I look more friendly than male photographers and people will feel less harmful when I point my camera at them. But because I’m female, sometimes guys will smile to me when I’m trying to take a photograph of them. And that ruins everything.

Who are some of your favorite street photographers?

My most inspirational one is Tavepong as I mentioned. The other one who inspires me a lot is Pau Buscato. His photography has a great combination of everything I like; color, graphic, gimmick, story.

I’ll list a few street photographers and describe them or their work with one word.

1. Alex Webb: Perfect

2. Martin Parr: Witty

3. Bruce Gilden: Courage

4. Tavepong: เทพ (He will know lol)

5. Tatsuo suzuki: Strong

6. Vineet Vohrah: Complex

7. Jesse Marlow: Lively

8. David Gibson: Fun

9. HCB: Classic

10. Vivian Maier: Mystic

Choose how you would make a comfortable living from street photography (sell prints, publish books, teach workshops, editorial work, selling your own brand of products).

I think teaching workshop is what I would like to do for a living. Because I like to talk to people with the same interest. I’m a very quiet person but when it comes to street photography, I can’t stop speaking. But I can’t teach if I don’t have work to show my students. For me it’s important to have a good body of work before teaching someone else. And it has to be consistent. I’ll stop teaching if I can’t produce more work. I don’t think you can live with your past success forever.

Your work has been in a lot of major exhibits, festivals, online competitions. What’s another festival or goal you have been waiting to check off?

My biggest goal now is Miami Street Photography Festival. I’ve submitted my photos to the festival last year but couldn’t get in. Another thing is that I’m working towards a body of work or photo series rather than single image(s). So I want to submit a photo series to many festival as well.

I ask this to everyone, which street photographer would you hire to shoot your wedding and why?

I probably choose Siegfried Hansen because he’s one of my inspiration and I wanna see how he can turn a wedding event into a graphic.

Whats your favorite food?

Thai food is the best!!!

You’re walking through a rough neighborhood which sp would you bring with you?

I will bring Pau Buscato because I love his work and I want to see how he works the scene as well. Actually I want to bring European street photographer to Thailand to see how will they shoot in the country that is super messy.

How are you able to see or find humor on the streets?

I’m considered a very serious and not-funny-at-all. But Thai people love comedy and I believe it is inside me without knowing it. I’ve been surrounded by Thai funny advertisement and tv shows since I was young. I guess humor is one of the things we are good at. Then it became kind of my style of seeing thing on the streets. But trust me, I’m a very serious person.

If you can take a five day workshop from any photographer past or present who would it be?

I would love to take a workshop with Elliot Erwitt and Martin Parr. Both of them are so good at creating photo series and I want to know more about sequencing photos and the way they edit them. I still have to learn so much more about editing photos.

Be a member of Magnum or be known for an innovative street photography style?

Be a Magnum member!

Any advice or tips on street photography?

Have fun when you go out shooting first, good photo is a plus!

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See more of Poupay’s amazing photographs!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/136837396@N08/

https://www.instagram.com/poupayphoto/

https://www.eyeem.com/u/jutharatpoupay