30 November 2015

Catching the Thai Smile

Every Tuesday Chiang Dao in Northern Thailand has a bustling and colourful authentic Thai market where people from the surrounding area come to sell and buy local produce and cheap clothing. Its filled with good vibe and energy from the enthusiastic sellers and buyers, mostly smiling local ladies. The market is a perfect place for catching the famous Thai smile and to find out what's behind it...

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; make-up; hat; Panama hat
Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; outdoor
Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; hat; outdoor
Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; outdoor; make-up; sexy
Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; hat; outdoor

























According to Henry Holmes' and Suchada Tangtongtavy's precise observations (Working with the Thais), there are at least one dozen of different Thai smiles. They can be found at Chiang Dao's vibrant Tuesday market where both sellers and buyers perform each of the Thai smiles smiles with flawless accuracy:

  • the hearty “I’m so happy that I’m crying” smile (yim thang nam taa),
  • the polite smile from someone you barely know (yim thak thaai),
  • the very controlled yet beautiful “I admire you” smile (yim cheun chom),
  • the stiff smile, also known as the “I should laugh at the joke though it’s not funny” smile (fuen yim),
  • the devious smile which masks something wicked in your partner/opponent's mind (yim mee lessanai),
  • the teasing or the “I told you so” smile of your partner/opponent (yim yaw),
  • the “I know things look pretty bad but there’s no point in crying over spilled milk” smile (yim yae-yae),
  • the "I am not happy" smile of real sadness (yim sao),
  • the dry smile, also known as the “I know I owe you the favour but I don’t want to do it” smile (yim haeng),
  • the “I disagree with you” smile, also known as the “You can take the photo but this is not a good idea” smile (yim thak thaan),
  • the “I am the winner” smile, the smile given to a loser (yim cheua-cheua),
  • the encouraging “you can take the photo” smile (yim soo-soo),
  • the concealing and polite “I’m trying to smile but can’t” smile (yim mai awk).

 Well, save face now and find out which photo below represents which smile…

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; wink; bowler hat; drop earrings; depth of field; outdoor
Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; motorcycle helmet; outdoor
Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; outdoor
Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; red lips
Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market
The expression "to save face" describes the lengths that a person may go to in order to preserve her or his established position in the society, taking action to ensure that one is not thought badly of by their peers. The famous Thai smile in all its versions and nuances belongs to this interesting psychological category.

Matt Hahnewald; Facing the World; Asia; Northern Thailand; Chiang Dao; Tuesday market; people; closeup; portrait; street portrait; headshot; smiling; Thai woman; Thai smile; market woman; friendliness; Land of Smiles; world cultures; travel; tourism; eye contact; Nikon DSLR D3100; 50 mm prime lens; colour; face; market; wrinkles; outdoor; old woman

























Portrait photographs depicting different versions of the famous Thai smile in Matt Hahnewald's

3 comments:

Eric Drumm said...

Matt, you most certainly have a wonderful rapport with those people whose images you are capturing. Wonderful collection of happy people!!

Matt Hahnewald said...

Thanks, Eric, for stopping by and commenting. Most appreciated. Accidentally, only a couple of days ago, there was a funny "smilological" article in The Atlantic: Why Some Cultures Frown on Smiling. The researcher found that in some countries, smiling might not be a sign of warmth or even respect...

Eric Drumm said...

Very interesting set of observations in the article, Matt. Glad though that Thailand is not one to discourage smiling!!