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Mon Photographer Opens Eyes to Child Poverty ‎

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One of the photos on display at an exhibition by Mon photographer Hong Sar Subnaen at the Second Floor Gallery and Cafe in Chiang Mai, Thailand. (Photo: Hong Sar Subnaen)


CHIANGRAI TIMES –  The camera is just a tool for me. But when I to take photographs, I also use my heart and my memories to capture the images I want,” said Hong Sar, an ethnic Mon photographer.

Hong Sar Subnaen, 28, is perhaps the first Mon photographer ever to hold a private exhibition in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, which has no Mon community.

His exhibition, which opened at the Second Floor Gallery and Cafe in Chiang Mai on Jan. 7 and will continue until the end of this month, highlights the realities of life for Burmese children living at a garbage dump in the Thai border town of Mae Sot.

“I want to draw attention to these people and their plight with my photographs, so that people will help them,” said Hong Sar.

“Some of the children here have no parents, and have to struggle to survive. I feel people should not ignore these poor children, who could easily end up as victims of human traffickers,” he added.

In one of his favorite photos, a child in blue rubber boots squats down to eat a bowl of hot rice, oblivious to his surroundings as he blows on his food to cool it off.

“When I took this photo, I felt a strong positive emotion, and I knew that other people would like it,” said Hong Sar.

In the first three days of his exhibition, he sold 23 photos. The price of each 8 x 12 print was 600 baht (US $19), but in many cases, buyers offered more because they knew the money would be used to help the children.

The photo of the boy with the bowl of rice sold for 1,200 baht ($38) on the first day.

As the son of a well-known photographer, Hong Sar has long dreamed of success in the profession.

It was with the help of two photographer friends, one from Lithuania and the other from Indonesia, that he was finally able to hold his first exhibition.

“I never thought that I would have a chance to exhibit my photos like this,” he said.

About 50 people attended the opening day of his exhibition, which features photos taken during a three-month period, from September to November 2011.


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