I went down to the bridge over the River Kwai today (as I write – in reality it was ages ago, back in August) and took some photos.
We had visited Kanchanaburi over ten years ago and had got the photographs I wanted then but armed with a new camera – the third of the trip after breaking two others – I was in the mood to get snapping and some use out of the thing before I drop it.
The bridge was far more crowded than it was back in the day. I thought it unlikely I’d get any better shots. The truth is, architecturally, the Kwai Bridge is no more spectacular than any other bridge. It’s the backstory of human misery and achievement novelised by Pierre Boulle and filmed by David Lean (combined with a clever bit of Thai trickery) that’s draws the audience here.
While I’m sure most people like to have tourism sites to themselves and take photographs without hordes of other tourists blocking the lens, I have never had a problem with other people in my photos. Though I do sometimes like the postcard version, where no one can be seen for miles, I find other people can be useful to lend a sense of scale or to draw the eye.
On the Kwai bridge there is no other alternative. You either take photos with lots of other people in the shot, or you do not take any pictures at all. Unable to get any photographs without someone’s head in the way, I thought: if you can’t beat them, join them and came up with a new subject to shoot – other people taking pictures of their friends.
I daresay there are a few people around the world with photos of me taking photos of people taking photos of other people too.
We stayed in Bamboo House, in sight of the Bridge over the River Kwai, during our visit to Kanchanaburi.