My name is Bryce Watanasoponwong. I am a Thai-Australian photographer who believes that street photography can help any self-taught artist to discover and define their passion. As an observer, my focus is drawn to the obscure elements of a street scene. Expressing these details in a photograph reveals intriguing subtexts within the captured moments.
I initially set out on a very different path in life. Degrees in accounting, information and business administration steered me towards a career in finance. But, during the global financial crisis, I suffered a double blow to my professional and personal life. Then, in one of life’s strange twists, a trip to Taiwan to escape my troubles turned a terrible year to the start of something wonderful. It was here that I bought my first camera.
The vibrant streets of Taiwan turned out to be the perfect place for me to begin my photography journey. What started as a diversion from my problems became the seeds of my future career. As I explored my craft, I found I had a keen eye for aesthetics, and I gradually began to manifest the creative spirit of a photographer.
On my return, I carried on for a few more years in real estate and hospitality, despite feeling as though my heart had been forced out of the frame. But, when another chance came to immerse myself in street photography, a whole new world opened up. With the raw materials of light and time, I found abstract art photography, and the focus of my lens shifted from the literal to the conceptual.
Anything that catches my eye. I have learned to trust the aesthetic. Street life is rich with possibilities. Overflowing with people, animals, greenery, architecture, vehicles of all kinds, dynamic movement and contrasting stillness.
Before the pandemic, I would spend most weekends on the streets of Bangkok with my camera, in search of inspiration, as well as taking a couple of trips overseas each year. My favourite destinations include India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Vietnam. In these places, I found captivating characters amidst scenes of vibrant colour. Every facet of life was rich with emotion, saturated with light and colour and dense with pattern and texture. As my lens focused further in, it drew out the abstract elements that captured my imagination, opening my mind to new possibilities.
This led to The Colours of Emotion, an abstract photographic series which considers the nature of emotion and its relationship to shape, pattern and colour as a metaphor for understanding the human condition. The work in this series reflects my feelings as I embarked on a creative journey for this project.
2019. By this point, my photography journey was well underway. I set myself the goal of producing a narrative series based on my growing collection of street photography. The story I wanted to tell lay in the fleeting moments where we glimpse the lives of strangers — that flash of recognition that illuminates the thread of humanity connecting us all.
Midway through the year, I began to curate a new collection with this purpose in mind.
The result was Ordinary Wonders. This story-based series of street photography narrows the viewer’s focus to the small details that give us an insight into the lives of people we will never meet.
My hope is to inspire people to reach beyond their natural shyness to greet their neighbours. As the Irish poet, William Butler Yeats once said – ‘There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.’
Bangkok. Chinatown. Chinese New Year 2020. News was filtering through of a mysterious new virus emerging from Wuhan province, China. But, of course, I had no idea that this would be my last weekend exploring the bustling streets with my camera before we were plunged into an international crisis.
As COVID-19 took hold and lockdown ensued, I found that — like many others — I was struggling with my emotions. I struggled to reconcile my fears with the frustration I felt at being cut off from my life. I became lost in this new reality. To find my way back, I needed to overcome these negative emotions. So, instead of focusing on the things I could no longer do, I looked for a new creative outlet.
I found myself experimenting with a range of different mediums, broadening my artistic expression. The result was Illusion, an abstract photographic series, which questions how our concept of identity and reality influences our ability to absorb life’s challenges.
There is so much still to learn. Every challenge I set myself sparks new ideas. Experimenting with different techniques helps me to gain new and expanded perspectives, not just on photography, but the world itself. Seeking out diverse cultures and striving for understanding our differences and similarities gives me the frame of reference I need in my work and in my life.
My current aim in photography is to produce works that evoke emotion and make a personal impact. I strive to cultivate a shift towards wellness, through the lens of my camera and on to those who view my artworks.