Suthep Kritsanavarin: Photographer

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As a photojournalist, Suthep Kritsanavarin has chronicled environmental, social, and
humanitarian issues in Southeast Asia for nearly two decades. His award-winning photo
essays have been published in: The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, the Far
Eastern Economic Review, Time, Geographical, Aera, Days Japan, and Geo. He has also
exhibited his documentary photography in Germany, France, China, Japan, Thailand, and
Cambodia.

Suthep’s work is based on his firm belief that a photojournalist must act as a
conscientious observer of society and culture, while also contributing to social change on a
local and global level. He achieves these goals by working on a project over long durations,
in order to build a deep understanding of the topic and to establish trust among the
communities where he works. As a result, Suthep captures powerful images of personal
stories that propel an in-depth documentary. By using his craft of storytelling, Suthep has
successfully brought international attention to issues highlighted in his work.

For the Khone Falls: Soul of the Mekong exhibition, Suthep has focused on
endangered species like the Giant Mekong Catfish thrashing their way upstream and
downstream of the Mekong River, while telling stories of the people who risk their lives in a
daily struggle to net their catch. For this project, he traveled throughout Southern China,
Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, the countries that the Mekong River flows through,
for over three years. By using his direct experience from the journey and research papers
published on the subject, Suthep has documented the threats hydropower and mega-structure
projects pose to traditional fishing communities and the ecosystem.

For this work Suthep has been awarded the Days Japan International
Photojournalism Award
in 2008 and the Best of Photojournalism Award from the US-
based National Press Photographers Association. This work was also awarded a grant by
the Blue Earth Alliance. The images are also being used by Rivers Coalition in Cambodia,
World Wildlife Fund, International Rivers, and TERRA in their campaigns about the impacts
the construction of hydropower dams on the Mekong River can have in Laos and Cambodia.

Most recently, Suthep has traveled to Burma within the week of when Cyclone Nargis
devastated the country. During the first three weeks after the cyclone, the Burmese
government barred international relief operations from the affected areas and deported media
reporters and photographers. Under these adverse conditions, Suthep was able to visit remote
areas devastated by the cyclone and has chronicled the suffering of the people. His images
bore witness to the destruction, torment, and despair caused by the cyclone. The resulting
work, Cyclone Nargis…life aftermath, has been chosen as one of the four finalists of the
Grand Prix CARE du Reportage Humanitaire 2008. This work was recently shown at the
Festival "Visa pour l'Image" from 30 August to 14 September in France.

As Suthep is committed to use photojournalism for social and humanitarian causes,
he believes that it is the responsibility of current photojournalists to nurture the next
generation. To this end, he has been actively involved as an Asian Tutor for young Asian
photographers at workshops offered during the annual Angkor Photography Festival. Suthep
is also convinced that storytelling is a powerful means to heal wounds created by natural or
man-made disasters. Thus, Suthep has co-founded and worked as the Photo Director of the
acclaimed InSIGHT Out! Photography Project, established after the 2004 Asian Tsunami.
The project teaches children to document their lives through photography in tsunami-affected
areas in Banda Aceh, Indonesia and Phang Nga, Thailand and has expanded its work in
Thailand’s conflict-affected southern border provinces.

Indeed, the excellence in Suthep’s work – as shown by its accolades – arises from his
compassion as much as from his artistic brilliance. Suthep is one of the most outstanding
photojournalists to emerge from Thailand in the recent years.