Specializing in weddings and graduations, Bangkok photographer Jatuporn “Aof” Singtomast’s business had suffered a lot during the pandemic. Then, in May 2022, things took a dramatic turn for the better. Just as the world was gradually emerging from lockdown, Aof went viral with a particularly striking photo set: two photogenic American couples, wearing pastel candy-colored traditional outfits and bright smiles, posing with Wat Ratchanatdaram as the backdrop.
The photo set was covered in several local media outlets and got over 40,000 likes on the Facebook page it was posted on. It also won the appreciation of the Thai public for capturing a contemporary yet respectful “East meets West” vibe.
Temple photos in traditional garments may seem overdone, but the photographer himself has been stunned to see how even teens are now taking an interest in visiting temples to take photos. Since then, these photo sessions have become a popular activity for tourists, with dozens of rental shops cropping up near temples around Bangkok.
The trend has breathed new life into his business, as well as another casualty of the pandemic: the rental costume store Sense of Thai, which offers traditional outfits in stylish contemporary color palettes.
“Their color schemes are so well-curated that you still complement your friends,” Aof says. “I also get people to pose in a modern way where they are running, walking or laughing and not only in traditional poses so it’s not passe. There’s still so much more you can do.”
Here, the photographer now famous for his pretty and playful shots tells Sawasdee his Bangkok shooting tips.
Which shot is your favorite and why?
It’s really difficult to choose one, but I love this picture above of these four Americans working in Bangkok. They rented outfits from Sense of Thai and booked a photo session with us before moving back to their country. I chose this picture because of their smiles – they’re so genuine and truly from the heart. They look like they’re having so much fun. I love how the outfits they chose for themselves really suit them, which goes to say that our traditional Thai costumes can look good on anyone.