Photo essay: Isolation diaries

Photo by Mahmood Hossain

Bangkok photography students stay creative during lockdown

R. Scott Davis is from New York and teaches photography in the Communication Arts program at Stamford International University in Bangkok. 

His Instagram work is here.

During the current Covid-19 shutdown period, R. Scott Davis assigned his students to reflect on their current state of isolation while photographing themselves, their friends and family with an emphasis on the daily rituals necessary to maintain a sense of mental balance. Some built home studios to shape the light streaming through the windows while others acted out small dramas capturing the meaning in the everyday and the mundane during quarantine. The resulting Isolation Diaries are both extremely personal but also relatable to all of us as we push through this difficult period. 

Main photo above by Mahmood Hossain [Moody]

Moody’s self portrait is the result of an elaborate home studio he built in his condo.  He then optimised the natural lighting of the different times of day while using a tripod to get the shot he was after. He captured himself here in a more reflective mood that we can all relate to. 

Warit Chotitarntimakorn [Steve]

Steve shot this lovely portrait of his father as the light streaming through the window perfectly accentuates the thoughtful expression on his face.  A quiet, introspective moment.

Ratchapol Lertsukpreecha [Ton]

Another image of the daily rituals during life in lockdown. Ton’s father puts on his mask and waters the plants in the garden of their family home. 

Thitiya Meepromsuksan [June]

June photographed herself while fully immersed in her daily activity of painting as a means to escape the boredom of lockdown. 

Pannaruj Anantawittayanon [Team]

For his project Team focussed his work on the daily rituals of lockdown at his family home. In this image we see his father cutting his brother’s hair and can feel the tenderness of the moment while his youngest brother looks on. 

Sangsan Saenjit [Poo]

Poo’s portrait of a close friend illustrates the restrictions we are feeling at times while experiencing lockdown. The stark black and white tones increases the sombre feeling of isolation within the image. 

Thornthan Sutdhayakom [Keith]

One of the recurring themes in these images is the juxtaposition of the interior life we are experiencing while inside our living spaces with the external world which is going on outside our homes which we are now feeling cut-off from. This deceptively simple shot by Keith captures the inside vs. outside feeling that has become familiar. The tipped over poolside chair adds to this sense that something is not quite right. 

Shuwen Xiao [Gill]

Gill decided to return home to China during the Bangkok lockdown. Upon her return she was forced from one quarantine zone to another for a month.  This image captures her first trip out of the quarantine zone, a glimpse of freedom. Her bold use of minimal leading lines gives this image a strong rhythm that is impossible to forget. 

Chonthida Mongkolwat [Snooker]

Snooker took this image shortly after receiving news of the Bangkok lockdown. She captures the feeling of isolation and loneliness social distancing causes in this striking image of equally distanced yet empty chairs. Snooker’s strong use of  line in the image’s composition further emphasises the emptiness in this once busy public space. 

Samantha Aloria

While studying Samantha is taking care of her younger cousin who is making the shadow puppet. The playful side of the interior life we are living while in lockdown in our apartments is reflected in this dramatic yet childlike image. There is also a prevailing feeling of melancholy sweeping through the composition that is very satisfying. The manner in which Sam is relating the negative space to the positive space is bold as well adding layers of meaning for further reflection.  


  • accentuate: to emphasise something, or to make it more noticeable -
  • composition: the way that something is formed from separate parts or people - การรวมตัวกัน การประกอบเข้าด้วยกัน
  • deceptive: lieing, not telling the truth - อย่างโกหก, อย่างหลอกลวง
  • emphasis: special importance or attention that is given to one thing in particular - การเน้นย้ำ
  • glimpse (noun): when you see something or someone for a very short time - การเหลือบดู, การชำเลือง, การชายตามอง
  • immersed: to become or make somebody completely involved in something - หมกมุ่น
  • introspective: thinking deeply about some subject -
  • isolation: the state of being separated form other people -
  • melancholy: a feeling of sadness - ความเศร้าโศก
  • mundane: very ordinary - ปกติ, ธรรมดา
  • optimise: to make something as good as it can be; to use something in the best possible way - ทำให้เหมาะที่สุด
  • reflect: to think about something carefully - ไตร่ตรอง, ครุ่นคิด
  • reflective: causing images in a mirror, on a shiny surface, on water, etc - ภาพสะท้อน
  • restriction: a rule, action or situation that limits or controls someone or something - การจำกัด, การควบคุม
  • ritual: a set of fixed actions and sometimes words performed regularly, especially as part of a ceremony - พิธีกรรม
  • sombre: serious, sad and without humour or amusement - เคร่งขึม
  • tenderly (adv): in a kind, gentle and loving way - ละมุนละม่อม

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