He may be young but the 23-year-old Thai fashion photographer is certainly not blind to issues that are happening around him, especially those that concern the human body.
Fuelled by an insatiable thirst for knowledge, Chetsada Worrayano’s newest series of documentary photographs entitled ‘Sensuality’ is a special project that focuses on prostitution, one of the world’s oldest and most controversial trade.
The photographer who has trained in the Faculty of Art and Design in Bangkok’s Rangsit University is passionate about bringing a completely different and noteworthy perspective to the table, showing his audience an unseen reality of what prostitutes really face, contrary to the ‘dark, dangerous world’ that people think they live in.
We caught up with the talented man whose works have earned him a top 12 finalist title in L’officiel Thailand New Talents 2013 awards in this exclusive interview:
JY: What made you decide to move away from conventional fashion photography and embark on this series of photos?
CW: I didn’t exactly move away from my usual photography style. What I did was I have incorporated the process works that I normally apply to my fashion photography and merged them with the content and inspiration that came from the documentary style of this series. I’m personally still very much into fashion photography.
JY: I see! So tell me about your newfound interest in the trade of prostitution.
CW: It was more of my doubts and curiosities about prostitution as a whole that spurred my interest in this research topic. I have always wanted to find out more about these women and how they live their lives such as the circumstances that they were facing which eventually lead to them working in this profession. This body of information was helpful by inspiring and motivating me in the production of the series, alongside some organic ideas that stemmed from within.
JY: Can you share with us some of your most unforgettable findings on this topic?
CW: During my one of my field research on this topic, I remembered witnessing a heart wrenching scene in the area of Bangkok. There were several old women, pregnant women and young women who had to bring their children with them. They were standing side by side each other along the road side while trying to get ‘business’ in the rain (they were completely soaked by the rainwater!). I would say that these first-hand experiences allowed me to reflect on life and to rethink why such things are happening within our society. Is this the result of poverty or an unhappy family life? Just recently as well, I’ve met up with a few boys between the age of 15 to 17 years old. They were using a range of social media platforms to sell their sexual services online. They labelled it as a ‘service’. Be it in the real world or virtual world, I guess I would have to say that each person has their own different reasons why they would want to sell sexual services in the first place.
JY: What is the prostitution scene like in Bangkok?
CW: Prostitution takes place in a variety of places and areas within Bangkok. In most cases, these prostitutes would not only stand and sit along the road at nighttime, but during mid-day as well.
JY: Prostitution has always been known as a commercial sex that is exploitative – a field that is riffled with issues such as gender inequality and absence of free will; whereby the prostitute are subjects to sexual violence and human trafficking. What are some of your views on this statement?
CW: According to my analysis, there are two types of prostitutes. The first being women who provide sexual services on their own accord due to the lure that comes from the convenient way of making fast money. For this group, I would say that worldly circumstances do still play a role in their choice of occupation, but to very little extent because they do have other job alternatives available to choose from, and in most cases, their stints in prostitution are shor t-term solutions to satisfy personal fulfilment. The second, on the other hand, would be those who are unwilling yet are forced or deceived into doing it. In this case, prostitution becomes a form of violence because these women are made to have sex with (or endure rape by) many men for a pittance. I don’t condone prostitution as I believe that there are plenty of legitimate ways for them to make money, but not in this manner as it harms the human body by exposing it to the many sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS and HIV.
JY: And you do know that people often associate the issue of prostitution as a woman’s issue and seldom a man’s issue, even though male prostitution do exist. How far do you agree with this?
CW: Personally I believe it is a more of a man’s issue. If there is no demand for sexual services from men in the first place, then there wouldn’t even be a market for these women to sell themselves. I guess it takes two hands to clap. So if men weren’t so crazed up for sex, then prostitutes wouldn’t even exist. To be honest, I really don’t like the how society always like to exploit on the fact that a woman is weaker in general, and thus can’t control herself, making it is a woman’s issue. To be fair, I would say that its more of a human issue.
JY: What do you desire most from this series of work?
CW: I hope that this photo series would be able to set the standard of what we will talk about within our society. Photos are not mediums that we see for fun. They also reflect on what we do, what we care about and what we will do if we know the conditions of our society.
JY: What are some of the challenges that you have faced when putting together this body of work?
CW: The hardest part would have to be the directing of models since they are the ‘actresses’ within this series. Since none of them has seen actual prostitutes in the bedroom to understand how they feel, I had to tell the models the narrative of my shoot and make sure that they express those feelings as close as possible. I’m really happy that the final photos managed to depict the perpetual state of sadness and melancholy of a prostitute, thus ‘telling’ a true story of prostitutes to the audience.
This article is also available in PEEK Magazine Vol. 1 by Jessica Ye
Photos by Chetsada Worrayano
Check out Chetsada Worrayano’s photography site for more of his works: chetsada-photography.foliodrop.com/