THAI SPIRIT HOUSES forced themselves upon my attention. The sacred presence of these tiny dwellings animates the urban landscape of Bangkok, and wherever I travel in Thailand; once you start noticing spirit houses, you will never not see them. They are everywhere, and each one is different. I had been seeking a creative discipline to structure my free time after expatriation. So I decided to learn to photograph them. Spirit houses would be the subject of my first project. This book is the result.
The Introduction explains the daily routine that I evolved. The 99 photographs follow, divided into eleven topical chapters, nine photographs in each: Night, Dignity, Sky, Shrines, Offerings, Figures, People, Wind, Progress, Speed, and Thailand Today. (99 because nine is a lucky number for Thais.) Captions and a list of Locations follow. Appendix One gives background and a bibliography for Thai spirit houses. Appendix Two explains the philosophy (“slow photography”) I reverse engineered out of my practice. The Colophon gives details of my kit and workflow.
If you are Thai, or you love Thailand, or this book impels you to visit Thailand, or these photographs help you illuminate your spiritual practice, or if, after seeing these photographs, you think I never saw that, but now that I see it, I realize that I’ve always seen it, then these photographs — or, perhaps, the spirits acting through them — will have achieved their object.
Special thanks to the kindly, anonymous Thais who came to see what I was doing, gave me a thumbs up — or a reaction shot, as of seeing a ghost, when I showed them the image I had just made of a spirit house on my iPad, or who laughed when they spotted a visual joke — or who brought me a chair to sit in, or a cool drink, or who offered to give a lift to the crazy farang lugging his equipment along by the side of the road in the heat of the sun.