Travel to the capital of Thailand, known in Thai as Krung Thep, and explore its secret alleyways, hidden gems, and bustling streets with Steve McCurry.
The acknowledged photojournalist will take you to his favorite parts of Bangkok to teach you the secrets of travel and portrait photography. Together, you will explore places like Khlong Toei night market, the Grand Palace, Chinatown, and Bangkok Railway Station. You will get to work in small groups together with Steve to maximize learning.
Steve is recognized universally as one of today’s finest image-makers, and has won many of photography’s top awards. Best known for his evocative color photography, Steve, in the finest documentary tradition, captures the essence of human struggle and joy. Steve’s work has been featured in every major magazine in the world. McCurry is driven by an innate curiosity and sense of wonder about the world and everyone in it. He has an uncanny ability to cross boundaries of language and culture to capture stories of human experience. “Most of my images are grounded in people. I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a person’s face. I try to convey what it is like to be that person, a person caught in a broader landscape, that you could call the human condition.”
After arriving at our hotel in the center of Bangkok, take your time to settle in. During the day you can relax and get adjusted to the local time and climate.
For those who have arrived one or a few days earlier, we offer a city tour of Bangkok from 10am to 4pm. The city tour is a great way to explore the Thai capital and get ready for the upcoming workshop with Steve McCurry.
In the evening, we’ll meet in the hotel lobby for the official start of the workshop. After a traditional Thai dinner, we invite you to join us for an introduction to the workshop, with Steve McCurry presenting his magnificent work from past travels to Thailand and Bangkok in particular. The lecture will also include an explanation on how to capture great portraits and how to approach people along the way.
After breakfast, we will head out to explore the riverbanks. There, the locals are living in simple homes made of wood, often built on stilts directly onto the river. The river is in constant motion and has been the lifeblood for the Thai for many centuries.
You will get a chance to document the life of the locals living along the river between tradition and modernity. One of today’s highlights will be a special tradition taking place on Sundays: the locals put on masks to go to see theatrical performances. This is not a show for tourists, but an enjoyment for the Thai themselves.
In the afternoon, we will visit the Amphawa floating market on private boats to fully take in the atmosphere and to be as close to the action as possible. The canal is occupied by vendors and their boats, which are packed with sweet and savory food and drinks that are sold directly from them.
After an eventful day, we will return to the hotel for dinner, followed by a review of your images taken so far.
Set off on another day full of adventures. Today’s theme is “Behind the scenes of Bangkok’s most important sights”. We will visit the Buddhist temple complex of Wat Pho, the Royal temple, Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn), the Grand Palace, Wat Traimit (the temple of the Golden Buddha), and the 46 m long Reclining Buddha – one of Thailand’s largest Buddha statues.
Pay attention to the unique architecture and intricate details of the buildings, the golden roofs and colorful interiors. Be ready to capture Buddhist monks in their orange robes strolling past and worshippers performing prayers.
After dinner at the hotel, Steve will hold a presentation about the photographers that influenced and inspired him and his work the most.
Today we will spend an entire day diving into the tradition of Thai boxing. Bangkok is one of the best places to watch the extremely popular sport. As Muay Thai is a competitive contact sport, it is performed by lean athletes who are quick and enduring and who use shins, elbows, knees and fists during a match.
We will visit some of the Muay Thai camps around Bangkok to document the fighters during their training and practice sessions. You will get to hang out with them and follow them around as they prepare for their next match. You can decide yourself if you only want to take portraits or use the day do photograph an entire story about Thai boxing. In any case, Steve will offer you guidance and support you during the small group sessions.
In the afternoon, we will return to the hotel and you will have time to work on your images. Steve will offer constructive feedback of your best shots. After dinner, Steve will present his most iconic and award-winning pictures.
We have another exciting day ahead of us. After breakfast, we will drive to Chinatown to discover its traditional parts with our cameras. For anyone with a sense of adventure, a day lost among the many market alleys and street food vendors can be the most memorable of any spent in Bangkok. Thanks to the mix of Chinese and Thai cultures, this part of town is unique and fascinating, especially for photographers, as you will find stunning temples, exotic street food and everyday street scenes just begging to be captured.
Another highlight will be peeking behind the scenes of a Chinese Opera. In the backstage area, you will document the performers getting ready for the next show. Capture how they apply the traditional make-up, do their hair, and put on their colorful costumes.
We will conclude the day at nearby Khlong Toei Market, Bangkok’s biggest fresh market and, according to CNN, one of the city’s most authentic markets. Vendors sell meat, farm produce, seafood, as well as household items. Khlong Toei typically gets busy in the evenings so prepare yourself for a lot of photography action.
We leave early today to catch the morning commute at Bangkok’s main railway station, Bang Sue Grand Station which opened in November 2021. It is the largest and busiest train station in Southeast Asia, serving about more than 200 trains and approximately 60,000 passengers each day. You will be able to capture passengers next to old-fashioned trains with the haze of diesel smoke creating a special atmosphere. Keep your eyes peeled to find interesting faces, hand gestures and of course, beautiful light. The daily bustle will keep us occupied for a couple of hours before we continue to Lumphini Park.
Lumphini Park is one of Bangkok’s rare open spaces and a green oasis in the concrete jungle. The beautiful park has an artificial lake where visitors can rent paddle boats and enjoy some quiet time away from the city buzz. The lively park offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor exercising, from Tai Chi to yoga to basketball. You will see couples on dates, people perform dance routines, and children on swings. Have your camera ready to not miss out on the fleeting moments.
We will have dinner at an authentic Thai restaurant before ending the day with a visit at nearby Patpong Night Market, which is located inside Bangkok’s oldest red-light district. The lines of market stalls are surrounded by go-go bars, giving the market a distinct atmosphere.
We will spend the day exploring Bangkok’s street life before we visit the small workshops that produce Buddha images and carvings. Watch the skilled craftsmen at work and document the process of making the carvings.
In the evening, we will visit one of Bangkok’s best night markets – the Train Night Market Ratchada. The first thing you will notice are the colorful roofs that are a popular photo motif. And as soon as you dive between the countless stalls, you will notice the mix of street food vendors, antique and clothing stalls, cool bars and small restaurants that will make any street photographer’s heart beat faster. What a way to end the day!
Chatuchak Market is the world’s largest weekend market and thus offers endless opportunities for capturing the daily life of the locals and taking unique portraits. At the 15,000+ stalls, everyday items like kitchenware, clothing, and home decorations are sold. You may be thinking the sheer size of this place is overwhelming, and you’re absolutely right for thinking so. Make sure to bring enough batteries and SD cards as we will spend an entire day there to explore the variety of stores and give you ample time to take all the photos you want.
In the late afternoon, we will return to the hotel for one last image review with Steve and to have our farewell dinner.
All good things come to an end. Today, we say goodbye and return home.
However, if you would like to prolong your stay in Bangkok, or Thailand for that matter, Better Moments will gladly help you plan the extension.
“What I will definitely remember from that workshop is the opportunity to learn a lot about how to get people look their best, whether this is a matter of light, whether this is a matter of the situation we put them in. That is something I always enjoyed doing, but now I am sure I understand much better how to do it.
Not only travelling to Burma, but on the leadership of Steve McCurry. Getting first of all to work together with the master, the landscape, the situation here, the people we met…. That’s just amazing!
If I had three words to describe this workshop to summarize it, that would be: learning, practising, and getting a lot of feedback to improve on what I love doing”.
Bernard Menettrier de Jollin participated in the Burma workshop, led by Steve McCurry.
Thanks for choosing Better Moments for your workshop.
Do you have any questions about the workshop or would you like to go on a private customized tour? Send us an email.
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All international flights arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport, also known as Bangkok Airport.
All visitors are required to have a passport valid for at least six months beyond the intended stay, and all visitors will need a visa. Some nationalities can get a VISA on arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport, but others must have one on arrival. Therefore, contact your local Thai Embassy.
In the capital, Bangkok, the climate is hot all year round. Between mid-November and January, the weather is good, usually with clear skies. Highs are around 30/32 °C (86/90 °F) and lows around 20/22 °C (68/72 °F), so it’s hot, even though it’s winter. In February, temperatures start to rise; the weather remains sunny, although occasionally a few short thunderstorms can develop.
Thai is the official language of Thailand. English is the secondary language taught and in touristy areas most Thai speak at least basic English.
Thailand’s monetary unit is the That Baht (THB)
Bangkok is a fascinating, exciting and incredible capital that never goes to sleep. There are many sights to visit, here is a selection: