A Song for Yaowarat
by Tom Hoops
The title of the project A Song for Yaowarat tells you more about the location than you may realise. It’s a very old hotel, tucked away above some steps that lead up from the street in the middle of Chinatown Bangkok. The hotel is full of charm with plenty of colour and character. The story really developed from the location itself, so once we had permission to shoot, we then looked for talent and styling.
This was originally an editorial for Beautiful Blood magazine. We wanted to work with talent that would feel like part of the space, but also feel a little off, so in some ways fitting the environment, but in other ways feeling like a person who doesn’t belong. We did the same with styling, a sort of old world charm. We knew it was going to have a feel of Wong Kar Wai’s film, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE so we wanted to avoid the traditional qipao (Chinese traditional dress), which is so synonymous with the film.
I shot this on 3 different cameras, two film camera and one digital. Leica and Nikon. We didn’t have much time to shoot the story so it was important to be able to change film but shoot at the same time. I am sure you can see which is image is shot on film and what was digital but I think it still works together. I love working with film, it slows me down, give me time to think. Nearly all my lenses are manual focus, even on digital, there is something magical about older MF glass.
We lit part of the story but where possible we used available light and where we did light things we tried to keep it as natural as possible.