the women of bangtao village
For most, Phuket conjures up bikinis, speed boats, tropical cocktails, and other exotic vices. At first glance, Bangtao Village, nestled along a sleepy beach, seems no different, but a few steps inland lies a quiet, long-standing Muslim community — tight-knit, positive, and coexisting seamlessly with the tourist economy and the rest of the island.
It was in this town where I recently joined Workshopx and Alex Masi to learn about documentary and photojournalism; my goal was to profile the Muslim village itself, which involved days running around in the oppressive island heat, chatting with and befriending a wide network of families, hauling my camera around from dawn to late night. It became clear that I most strongly connected to the women in town and placed my focus on them — the mothers, the grandmothers, the sisters, the daughters — documenting their firm dedication to family, work, and faith in the backdrop of a tourist economy.
Admittedly, it was a huge issue to cover in a short workshop, but through the process, I not only gained a newfound respect for photography, got an insider’s view on critical photo-editing, and received great technical advice, but also learned a lot about community and the strength of the Muslim women in Bangtao.
Huge thanks go to the incredible Alex Masi and Grzegorz + Aleksander of Workshopx for the detailed guidance and super-challenging, rewarding, and unforgettable week; to Bangtao Village for opening their doors, hearts, and minds to the camera-toting, constantly sweaty foreigner; and a special mention to the Ontario Arts Council – Conseil des arts de l’Ontario + Chalmers Family Foundation for making it all possible.