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Phuket Through a Vintage Lens

phuket vintage lens

Images shot with F.Zuiko 38mm f1.8

I’d heard a lot of things about Phuket before I’d ever really checked it out for myself.

Most were not so complimentary.

Apparently the worst island in Thailand.

Overdeveloped, overcrowded, full of drunks, full of bar girls, and full of sexpats.

It sounded like an Andaman Benidorm.

So to find out if this was a fair assessment, it was only right to go check it out for myself, and to take plenty of shots with the vintage F.Zuiko 38mm f1.8 and Sony NEX combination while I was there.

Tough work I know, but someone has to do it.

ya nui beach phuket thailand

A Phuket beach through a vintage lens

When people think about the photographs they’ll be able to make in places like Phuket, there’s often one in particular they have in mind.

The deserted paradise beach.

Deserted beaches, either in the full light of day or at sunset, perhaps with the silhouette of a palm tree for that extra bit of cliché, are surefire winners when wanting to make friends jealous.

Unfortunately, much of Phuket isn’t really like that.

If you go to Patong, Phuket’s busiest beach town, it definitely won’t be.

The images below are from Kata beach which, while not Patong, was still busy.

Busy enough to mean shooting something other than deserted landscapes with my vintage lens.

umbrellas on kata beach phuket thailand

I mention this because I overheard someone who had just got back to the hostel after going down to Kata Beach for some photographs.

The conversation went like this:

“How was the beach?”

“It’s nice, but I couldn’t get any good pictures because there were too many people.”

While the number of people meant they couldn’t get any good pictures of a deserted beach, which I presumed was their aim, I don’t agree it meant they couldn’t get any good pictures at all.

There’s nothing wrong with getting the idyllic empty beach shot, but don’t let that be your only goal.

Don’t restrict yourself and your photography.

Realise that other tourists being there doesn’t stop you from taking great shots.

If you want more interesting results, it actually helps you. Just by being there, the people help you.

Use them in your pictures.

If the beach is busy, convey that. It’s real, it’s different, and when done well is far more compelling to look at.

Look for the small things too. The things that most people miss.

Because we’ve all seen enough photographs of deserted beaches to last a lifetime.

kata phuket

thai flag

thai buddhist figurine with melted candle

small thai buddhist figurine shrine

Phuket town through a vintage lens

As the biggest of the Thai islands, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Phuket isn’t all beaches and bars.

There is, after all, a lot of inland space to fill.

The biggest population centre on the island, Phuket Town is a good place to visit to mix up your photography a little.

A remnant of the area’s tin mining history, the town features a combination of both Portuguese and Chinese architecture, along with the local style.

Shooting these with the F.Zuiko 38mm f1.8 on Sony NEX provided a nice change of flavour to my Phuket through a vintage lens set.

yellow colonial building phuket town thailand

phuket town

phuket street photography

black and white buildings in phuket town

statue at chinese temple thailand

chinese temple phuket townthai chinese english sign at temple

Phuket development through a vintage lens

Completing the set of Phuket through a vintage lens are a couple of shots of unfinished holiday complexes and other structures.

I’ve seen similar scenes all over Thailand.

Work starts and, for reasons beyond me, never gets completed.

I really, really wanted to get inside the complex below and do some exploring.

Unfortunately, the long grass and plentiful shade made it look like the perfect place for snakes to be living.

The last thing I needed was to be going and disturbing them.

Although, as you can see in the final image, I did come across a couple of wild crocs. 🙂

unfinished resort phuket

abandoned phuket

Phuket hadn’t been the horror show I’d been fearing.

If you want quieter beaches, you can find them.

The Rawai area at the southern end of the island is nice, although if you head there and anyone complains it’s now also getting too crowded, don’t tell them it was me that tipped you off.



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