A Tribute To a Forgotten Thai Master Photographer

In September 2018 we visited a small town of Phimai in Nakhon Ratchasima province (northeastern region) of Thailand; on our way to Muay Thai photography shoot.

We stumbled across an unusual restaurant near our hotel. The sight of the interesting décor beckons us to walk in.  We were dumbstruck by the several antique cameras that were on display together with beautiful black & white photographs that adorn the walls.  Feeling intrigued, we started to strike a conversation with the restaurant’s owner, only to learn that the restaurant was run by a Thai master photographer, Khun Pornsak Sakdaenprai. 

He kindly shared with us many stories of his past career.

We felt privileged to have met the 83 years old master and shared his almost 55 years legacies.

He kindly showed us his large-format camera, which was still standing. Perhaps it’s 20x25 inch or even bigger.

Pornsak Sakdaenprai, his old glass negative camera and me. Photo: Chutima Panjapan

Pornsak Sakdaenprai on his motorbike by his studio door, early 1960's

His work is outstanding in the sense that he took portraits of local simple farmers, making them look smart and elegant, almost like movie stars. I was really impressed with the beauty and aesthetics of his work, long before Photoshop was invented. It also provided me the chance to look some 55 years back, into lifestyle in a small provincial town in Thailand.

I found his work fascinating.

Untitled, 1965

I was so impressed by this story, I wanted to write about it immediately when I’m back in Bangkok. Well, it took me almost 2 years to do it, but better late than never.

I do hope Kun Pornsak Sakdaenprai is alive and well today.

More about his work here:

© 2020 by NOAH DOLINSKY              

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