"Before this I was just working every day with no goals and it was depressing, but now I’ve found myself."
Phichai “Eak” Kaewvichit, 43, is a full-time motorbike taxi driver stationed at BTS Ratchathewi. He is currently holding his first ever photography exhibition at Craftsman Roastery (Silpa Bhirasri's House, 153 Ratchawithi Rd. Open daily 7am-7pm) through Mar 31. Under the theme “Accidentally Professional,” the exhibition displays images from his Instagram @phichaikaewvichit (where he's already pushing 50k followers) that were taken on his phone, revealing a hidden and surprising talent. We met up with him at the gallery, where we spoke about how his hobby developed, what inspired him and his tips for finding your passion.
How did you get into photography?
I work as a motorbike taxi driver. At one point, I realized that my career and who I really am were two different things. I’m a big fan of art and wanted to spend more time with myself. So on my break I go and take photos, capturing whatever I think is beautiful, like shapes, shadows, lights. My photos would probably get thrown away in a contest because they don’t follow any rules, but I don’t care because I just want to present what I see. I’m just being myself and there are flaws. If we kept worrying about techniques, it would overshadow our real character. I also hardly look at any photography exhibitions, but I look at other art exhibitions like sculptures, paintings, drawings.
Tell us about this exhibition?
If I’m being honest, I have very little knowledge about arts or how to take photos—all my photos are just a reflection of how I see things.
Where did you learn to take photos?
I took the film camera class at Siphraya Polytechnic College over a decade ago but I never did anything with it. I only just started putting photos on Instagram in April last year. At first I had like 1,700 followers and most of them were foreign photographers, I looked at their work, they looked at mine. The Thais who followed me were the ones who knew who I was in real life.
How do you find your shots?
I normally park my motorbike and walk for hours, because you can’t see any details when you ride the bike. I usually go around Sam Yan, Siam, Silom, Sathorn.
What made you decide to post your photos on Instagram?
I got on Instagram because I felt I needed to do something for myself, too. Career and family are important, but I also needed somewhere to express my true self. Am I just going to work for money until I die? I needed to be myself, too, to be happy. Before this I was just working every day with no goals and it was depressing, but now I’ve found myself.
What are your tips on finding yourself?
Don’t think, just feel. Feel what you like or don’t like, then just do it. Thoughts always stop you from doing something. You also need to have some freedom first, then your identity can emerge. Everyone is different and difference is the real you. Schools and books always block creativity and try to change you to fit into the social standard. There is no standard in life, there is just freedom. Freedom to be yourself.
What’s the feedback from your family?
They are happy for me. At first they didn’t understand why I was doing it and thought I should have just spent more time making money, but I was stubborn and just kept doing it, sneakily.
What’s next from now?
My next exhibition should be at Barbali Bistro on Phra Athit Road.
Have you ever thought of quitting your job as a driver to be a photographer full-time?
No. Now that I’ve taken photos of Thailand, I want to take photos of other places like India and show it in my own way.