You don't even need to be a party animal to recognise Anon Singhtongla, aka Superverysnapshot. As a regular photographer for street-style magazines Cheeze and Looker Anon is everywhere from the corners of retail shops and fashion weeks to Bangkok's gloriously infamous parties, trying his best to capture those precious moments.
When it was first made public that Anon would be holding his first solo exhibition, many assumed that it would be photos of the usual club kids going at it full steam, or of indie celebrities strutting their carefully chosen wardrobe. But he left us flabbergasted when sample photos of "Parallel Light", which runs until Oct 30 at Bad Motel, came to light. Anon's exhibition deals only with backstage moments at fashion shows, and it has proven to be a delightful surprise as very few people knew that he has been building his catalogue of such moments over the years.
"I guess not many people know about this, but I am at my happiest when I get to take pictures backstage. To me, it's just interesting how all these pretty models look so stern and serious on the runway, trying their best to sell clothes, but they're another way when they're backstage, out of the public eye, when they're no longer just clothes hangers. They're kooky, and that is such a high contrast to the high fashion clothes that they're in. I think these works represent fun, unrehearsed moments told from my perspective," he said.
"Parallel Light" catches the usually glammed-up models at their silliest as well as most private minutes before, during and after the normally tense runway moments. Anon's works assign more lighthearted meanings to being a working model, possibly giving a more humane face to their profession. The earnest photos engage us mere mortals with the "typical" world of modelling when they're at ease, and less intimidating. Still, it's difficult not to ponder that with Anon's camera present how do we know that his subjects are not putting on another show for us?
"With all my backstage assignments, I always have three roles to fulfill. First, I do what my clients or editors want me to do, and then I ask models to do certain things out of personal preference, and then there's this middle path which I just snap, snap and snap. The photos in the exhibition come from that middle path."
Growing up as artistic child, Anon, 33, still remembers that he was drawn to art from a young age. The young Anon liked to draw, and became really interested in out-of-the-box, unusual art in middle school, but it wasn't until he became a university student that photography piqued his interest.
"I joined my university's photo club while I was studying political science. I started taking pictures of people in my own way, and I got criticised by seniors a lot because I never stuck with textbook or photographic rules. I didn't care anyway, I kept on doing what I wanted to do," he said.
His rebel spirit certainly paid off when he started to land jobs from portraits to commissioned works for a free magazine. Anon's big break came when his talent finally caught the eye of Cheeze magazine eight years ago.
"They first asked me to do street fashion photos, and I began using my style which infused different perspectives into street snaps. I used different compositions, and they really liked it, so they trusted me to do more works like fashion sets, cover shoots and paid editorial commercials," he said.
It was also with the well-known magazine that he first tasted the exciting Bangkok party scene. Anon quickly found himself enjoying the night life, and soon began taking photos of party people.
"I just went out so much, and during that period I fell in love with snap shot style. Then I started a fan page, and used the name Superverysnapshot because people began asking for their photos, and I don't mind giving the photos to them. I think my party photos are very simple. I used to experiment with different styles, but soon realised that I preferred this very simple snap shot approach. The techniques are very basic, and I just concentrate on moods," he said, adding that he doesn't mind when people use his photos without his permission as long as they give credit and don't use them for financial gain or commercial purposes.
When asked what kind of photography is his favourite as he switches back and forth between street fashion, party and off-guard backstage photography, Anon took a minute to ponder.
"I really can't say, but my favourite subjects are people in whatever situations they are in, and they're being natural among their surroundings. I think my style is fun like my personality. I like a good time and I want to convey that feeling through people in various states."
"Parallel Light" runs until Oct 30 at Bad Motel, open daily from 5pm-1am. Call 02-712-7288 for more information.