Scrolling through Sarawut Intarob’s social media feed, it is easy to feel moved by the spectacular natural landscapes and candid portraits that make up his body of work. From misty mornings in the mountains of Vietnam to the blue hour in Chiang Mai, Intarob’s images are both dynamic and peaceful. Far from a generic landscape photographer, his gift lies in capturing life’s small, magical moments set against the serenity of nature.
Photographing people in their natural environment has always been Intarob’s preferred style. Fascinated by the idea that a photograph could freeze a moment in time forever, he began taking photos, at age 13, of family members and people in his local neighbourhood. It wasn’t until he was in his mid-twenties that he started travelling and taking pictures of the places he visited.
Adopting a more casual attitude to his craft, Intarob’s style is free and self-directed. His approach to photography is simple: to capture culture and emotion wherever he travels and create a memory that can be shared with others. “I have always loved photography, but I never seriously occupied myself with it”, he explains. By staying grounded, Intarob’s photographs are able to convey a sense of honesty and energy.
Despite having a more liberal style, Intarob notes the importance of technique and preparation. Choosing the right location is paramount, so that the correct camera and lens can be utilised. “Make sure you’re ready for your next trip and find out what camera gear to bring. I always carry three Nikon lenses: wide, normal and tele-zoom”.
Creating a schedule is also useful, as a plan can be made according to the weather and the light from the sun or moon. When it comes to light, understanding exposure and manual shooting mode can ensure images are consistent. As Intarob explains, “when the camera settings are locked in they won’t change if you reframe the subject. This works well so long as the ambient light is steady”.
Some of Intarob’s most prized images are those taken of Aurora Borealis in Iceland, yet capturing this type of phenomena is no easy task. Factors like weather and moonlight must be considered, as well as a high-quality tripod. “A tripod is the single most important piece of equipment you will need”, Intarob claims. “And...being in the right place at the right time!”
Perhaps what makes his photographs of the Northern Lights so special is the context in which they were taken. During an expedition with best friends, Intarob describes how despite a punctured wheel and missing Aurora’s brightest moments, he was able to produce extraordinary images and share the event with others. “My most memorable experience is the Iceland trip”, he reflects. “It is a wonderful memory I have”.
The Aurora Borealis over Kirjufel Waterfall in winter, Iceland - Nikon D810, ISO 800, f/2.8, 20 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED at 14mm
The Aurora Borealis over the Jökulsárlón glacial lake in winter, Iceland - Nikon D810, ISO 1000, f/2.8, 8 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED at 14mm
Night shooting for Intarob also involves an element of astrophotography. The Milky Way Galaxy and all its planets and clouds cannot be seen easily with the human eye, but the right camera (a Nikon D810 in Intarob’s case) is able to capture a range of light in detail. As he explains, “a camera can take longer exposures than the human eye and collect light over a longer period of time. It is a stronger tool to work with when determining colour”.
Being able to explore, witness extraordinary weather conditions, and shoot during golden hour are all privileges that Intarob appreciates. However, he notes that it takes time to develop a photographic instinct and to identify special moments in seemingly mundane activities. Indeed, Intarob’s intention is always for audiences to feel something. “I hope they get emotional” he says, when asked what he hopes viewers will see in his photos. “I am always looking to discover new places and use my experience”.
Intarob advises aspiring photographers to follow the work of other creators but suggests that they occasionally disconnect from social networking platforms, especially when using them to measure artistic merit. “We all use [social networking] more than enough”, he states. “I try to find time to separate from it”. By focusing on his own craft, he is able to practice, refine and review while avoiding comparison with others.
Ultimately, it is an adherence to simplicity and enjoying the process that guides Intarob’s approach: preparing well, travelling often and seeking magic in the ordinary.
Sarawut Intarob is a Thai photographer known for his scenic landscapes and ability to capture raw emotion in his subjects. He describes himself as a travel photographer and prefers to work with subjects in their natural surroundings. Intarob continues to be inspired by the communities, cultures and traditions of the world, and plans to visit Africa in 2018.