Say “Chiang Mai” and what comes to mind? Trekking in hilltribe country, indulging in copious Thai massages, taking cooking classes, weaving, maybe even raw veganism. But perhaps less well-known is the fact that the Rose of the North is home to a community of highly talented photographers.
The Chiang Mai Photographic Group (CMPG) is made up of mostly expat photographers representing a dozen different countries, each with wide-ranging skills and interests—from wildlife and macro to street, travel, commercial, and war photography. The 30-40 active members meet every two weeks at River Market Restaurant on the banks of the Ping River, discussing photography and sharing their new projects with one another. This diverse group stages what has become known as the premier annual photographic exhibition in the north of Thailand. Until February 7, the group will see their eighth exhibition run at the Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre, close to the hip Nimmanhemin Road.
When CMPG leaders Wyndham Hollis and Mike See organized the group’s first exhibition in 2007, they secured a space in Central Airport Plaza, hoping to capture the attention of people who wouldn’t otherwise see it during their trips to Chiang Mai. The Central Group became a regular sponsor, generously providing high-profile space, and the original strategy paid off as casual visitors converted to dedicated regulars. Last year’s move to Maya allowed the group to create a larger display. Then Canon, another major sponsor, offered to print the participating photographers’ work with their inkjet machines, improving the quality of the presentation by leaps and bounds.
As time goes by, the make-up of the CMPG changes, but when it’s time to select work for the exhibition, there’s nearly always a pleasant surprise, Hollis admits. Someone with a fresh style will have joined while others will have moved on to new locations. But the standards always remain high.
The CMPG exhibition kicks off “f/28,” a month of photographic arts events in various venues around Chiang Mai. For further details, visit f-28.org.
The Chiang Mai Photographic Group aims to further all aspects of its members’ picture taking abilities through the sharing of skills and mutual support in an informal, inclusive, and enjoyable atmosphere. All are welcome, regardless of experience. See cmphotogroup.com for details and dates.