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Fisherman of the Mekong

Policeman by day, photographer by sunset. Saravut Whanset drifts alongside the boat men of Thailand to preserve a picturesque moment.

Casting nets by the light of sunset, the orange and blue sky boldly projects its reflection on rippled waters. After a long day of merciless heat, the sun fades in a hurry at day’s end, giving photographer Saravut Whanset only moments to preserve a picturesque moment.

With the river sitting so close to Saravut’s village, it was inevitable that his keen eye would draw him to the shores and the boat men. His passion lies in people - Saravut has been shooting people, places and the lifestyle of his countrymen since the day he laid his hands on his first camera. “I love to meet people, talk and learn from them so I can open my own mind. I like to discuss different aspects of life with everyone I meet.

Striking up a conversation with the fishermen, he would rendezvous with them before sunset and follow them to their next catch. Balancing on long sampans, the figures don signature straw paddy hats whilst casting large nets into deep waters. His series not only follows the daily lives of those out at sea, but also young children who test their luck in shallow waters.

For Saravut, it is often a waiting game. “I have to be patient for the right moment to come. A time nearer to sunrise or sunset - this is when sun will shine the most. I also need to position myself in a way that the camera angle is parallel to the water, so that the fishermen do not cut the horizon.

Whilst he aims for his shots to be candid, to truly illustrate the fishermen in their day-to-day, Saravut must also work with them by giving them directions, so he can capture more personal shots to encapsulate the details of the scenery. “Exposure time is crucial, it helps light the ground water to create a beautiful shine. This is why my Nikon lens is so important to shooting."

His refreshing look at village life offers a piece of serenity and beauty to be admired. Embracing an age-old professional laced in tradition, the Mekong represents the livelihood of many.


About Saravut

Saravut Whanset started his work in photography with a small group in his village, inspired by both his brothers, whom are both avid photographers. Saravut began to travel around Thailand in order to capture the lifestyle of his people. Policeman by day and photographer when off duty, he is fascinated by moody atmospheres and the impact of lighting.