I started documenting life in rural Thailand in 2011, with an emphasis on one particular rural farming family. One of the reasons I started this project was to record the changes I knew were coming to this small farming community. I have to admit I did not expect the changes to come as rapidly or be as dramatic as they have been. Major changes have occurred in all aspects of life in Nakhon Nayok, not just farming. Another reason I started the project was for the images I could make. A farmer in the hot sun, using a hand tractor, with muscles straining to control the heavy machine, made for some dramatic photos.
The changes, for the most part, have been good for the local farmers. Nien, the man in the above photo was able to retire from hand plowing at the age of 67, and let the men with modern tractors plow the fields. His retirement probably added years to his life, as many Thai farmers literally work themselves to death at an early age.
For me, speaking strictly from a photographic angle, the changes are not as welcome. One of the things photographs had from six years ago was a uniqueness that show a Thai culture, and were easily identified as Thailand. Today it is difficult to produce images in the fields that say “Thailand”. The images could easily be many places in the world today. Globalization plays a large role in rural Thailand today.
Since I am, and have been a member of the family, and local community for nine years, another large part of me embraces the changes, as they are generally good for the family and locals. As a documentary photographer I must live with the changes and do my best to faithfully and accurately portray life here in rural Thailand. I’m sure there will be many more major changes in the next few years.