With cameras becoming more affordable and photography know-how becoming more accessible online (think of the thousands of video tutorials on YouTube alone!), the number of talented young photographers has been rising. This month, we speak to 12-year-old Thawiphum Techaphan, the winner of HISTORY’S Photo Face-Off: Episode 3’s Chiang Mai challenge!
Currently in its second season, Photo Face-Off is Asia's leading photography competition show, which takes 16 amateur photographers on a whirlwind tour across some of Southeast Asia's most photogenic spots. Every episode pits three local contestants against each other and the resident Professional Photographer, where they undertake three difficult challenges (themed Speed, Theme, and Extreme) in order to win a coveted spot in the Grand Finale. With each challenge designed to push every contestant's skills, knowledge, and creativity to the limit, how did Thawiphum Techaphan - known to his fellow competitors as Theo - emerge as an episode victor?
Canon Snapshot (CS): Hello Theo! Can you tell us about yourself and how you picked up photography?
Theo (T): I'm 12 years old and from Hua Hin, Thailand! I started taking photos at 10 years old, when my dad gave me his old film camera. I was only allowed to use a 35mm lens and if I wanted to zoom in, I had to go closer to get the shot! My dad taught me how to use a camera and my mom taught me her tricks.
CS: That's really cool! So you belong to a family of photographers!
T: I grew up with photography around me. My mom, Phamai Techaphan, is a professional photographer and my dad, Thomas Groves, is a photography teacher. He introduced me to the ideas of photography and how to ‘see' images and moments.
CS: What camera are you using now?
T: Right now, I'm using the Canon EOS 7D. I love it! It's fast, good in all weather conditions and tough enough to keep up with me.
CS: So what did it feel like, being the episode winner for the Thailand episode?
T: It feels great! I am so happy to represent Thailand on Photo Face-Off and win. I also hope I can inspire other young photographers because I wanted to show that age doesn't matter when it comes to photography. What's important is telling the story.
CS: Did you encounter any difficulties during your episode?
T: I love action, culture and street photography so for me the theme challenge - food photography - was the most challenging because I've never taken pictures of my food for fun. We also had to use a light box and soft box, which I had never used before too!
CS: What was the most enjoyable part then?
T: Everything! It was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I got to meet other awesome photographers who I still talk to almost every day. I got to experience how a TV show is made, had my first press conference, and now have an interview with Canon Snapshot!
CS: What would you like to try next?
T: Sports photography, because I like the intensity in the players' bodies and faces.
I also have a few places I would love to take photos of, like the Sulphur mines in Indonesia, and the crucifixion of Christ in the Philippines, just to name a few.
CS: Lastly, do you have any advice for young photographers like yourself?
T: My advice is to never give up. If you don't get your shot, try different angles and spots. The more pictures you take and the more mistakes you make, the better your pictures will get.
The most important piece of advice: do not let people tell you that being young means you cannot take good pictures. If you like street or travel photography, don't be afraid - act natural and you will get better pictures. And do not forget to enjoy the moment! Sometimes the best thing to do is take a picture or two, then put the camera away and just enjoy what is going on around you.
12-year-old Theo likes photography because he can tell stories from his point of view and travel to interesting places. The youngest contestant on HISTORY'S Photo Face-Off TV series hopes to prove that age is just a number when it comes to great pictures.