Photobook reviews

Thai/ Life/ Style by Christopher Wise

21 November 2022

Since 2001, Christopher Wise has lived in Thailand, a place he has photographed for various publications like Forbes, Monocle, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. He has been building a body of work over the last 20 years and, during the pandemic, he decided to Kickstart a publication of his work. He was successful. Near the end of 2021, Thai/ Life/ Style/ generated the $12,000 it needed for publication.

The book is a lush experiment in the details of Thai life, shot using film and digital cameras (see the colophon for a list of cameras used). Wise gives us landscapes, portraits, and details—tons of images in a book that he calls a “scrapbook,” one that details moments and memories from his last two decades in the country.

Spread from Christopher Wise’s “Thai/ Life/ Style/”Spread from Christopher Wise’s “Thai/ Life/ Style/”Spread from Christopher Wise’s “Thai/ Life/ Style/”

Thai/ Life/ Style/ is composed of full-color, full-bleed images—all in portrait format. He calls each spread a “diptych,” and some images are playfully juxtaposed (as you can see in some of the images). At the bottom left of each image is a caption explaining the image and locating it within Thailand.

Images like a man lighting incense at a shrine, a father shaving his son’s head for a monk initiation, and close-up portraits of locals suggest that Christopher Wise has been deeply embedded in Thai life. This is, of course, something that a white man with a camera might find hard to pull off for a variety of reasons. But we don’t get the sense that Wise is anything but simply curious about his adoptive home.

Spread from Christopher Wise’s “Thai/ Life/ Style/”Spread from Christopher Wise’s “Thai/ Life/ Style/”Spread from Christopher Wise’s “Thai/ Life/ Style/”

About Christopher Wise’s Thai/ Life/ Style/