PetaPixel

Photographer Snaps Surprised Reactions After Shouting Words on Subway Trains

Thai photographer Benz Thanachart caused quite a stir in his country this past summer with an unusual photo project titled Smartphone. For each photo, he boarded a subway train, screamed a completely random word, and snapped a photograph to document the passengers’ startled reactions. The photograph above was captured after Thanachart shouted “Fried egg!”

Here’s Thanachart’s description of the project:

After staying in New York City for one year, I went back to Thailand on summer 2012. The biggest thing I first noticed was that several people now own smartphone. On the public transportation, they were always obsessed with the little personal space on their hand. Everybody was facing down and being cut off from the outside world. At that time although I was being in my hometown, the feeling of unfamiliarity gradually emerged. So I decided to do something to express that disoriented emotion. I got into the subway, shouted out a random word that is completely unrelated to the situation and then captured that moment. It was the moment when everyone was getting out of their small worlds and noticing the presence of public space.

Thanachart tells us that he wanted to capture photos that you don’t come across every day. Since he and the friend that accompanied him didn’t want to get into trouble with authorities, they chose random words and phrases rather than impolite or unsafe ones (e.g. “bomb”, “fire”, “gun”).

Passengers were often so occupied with their phones that the Thanachart had trouble getting everyone in the frame to look over at the same time (despite shouting at the top of his voice).

After each scream he thanked the passengers for their participation. Surprisingly, none of his “subjects” ever got mad at his sudden outbursts, and some even started laughing and asked him to do it again.

The project took a total of two days. He would shout once on each train and then step off at the next stop. After hundreds of photographs, Thanachart ended up with a handful that he liked. Once the photographs made their way online, it wasn’t long until they started going viral among the Thai people. The images attracted tens of thousands of likes on Facebook and were featured in a magazine.

Here are the photographs in the project, along with the words and phrases he shouted to elicit each reaction:

“Corn!”

“Alligator!”

“Kale!”

“Mushroom!”

“Tokyo Tower!”

“Broccoli!”

“Hokkaido!”

“Cappuccino!”

“The Final Picture!”

“Omelette!”

You can find more of Thanachart’s work on his website and through his Facebook page.


Thanks for sending in the tip, Pocky!


Image credits: Photographs by Benz Thanachart and used with permission


 
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1079180093 Tommy Sar

    Women on left in first picture had me rolling on the floor. This better than kitten memes.

  • michaelp42

    Meh.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathanblaney Nathan Blaney

    Those of us in NYC generally would pay absolutely no attention to someone shouting random stuff on the subway. In fact, I’d be more surprised by people who weren’t doing that. or fighting. or urinating. or pretty much anything, depending upon which subway line your on. Thailand must have pretty safe, boring subways.

  • Dr.Pogi

    I’d like to see what you can come up with.

  • Dr.Pogi.Sucks

    Anything is better than this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephen-Lee/1052696133 Stephen Lee

    I think you’ll get the same ‘deer blinded by car headlights’ reactions in Singapore.

  • http://twitter.com/the_fotografo Lucas Gilbert

    Too many equal photos. The idea is good, but the pictures are not interesting.

  • branden rio

    Haha, it’s refreshing to see something bizarrely original like this

  • http://wemetlastnight.tumblr.com/ Albi Kl

    “Surprisingly, none of his “subjects” ever got mad at his sudden outbursts, and some even started laughing and asked him to do it again.”

    This again. A belief so pervasive yet so disconnected with reality.

    Love this project though. Entertaining, unique and thought provoking.

  • http://twitter.com/xysg XinYun

    Interesting and hilarious expressions.
    Though I doubt he would get anything similar in SG, maybe more eyes glued to smart phones :)

  • Vincent

    ‘you’re’.

  • http://trick-photograhy.org/ Jim May

    Their expressions looks about the same despite different words being uttered.

  • ThePope2012

    idiots like these give photographer a bad name….. :-(

  • ThePope2012

    wieder so ein hohlbirne der gerade mal seine eigene muttersprache halbwegs beherrscht und sich als oberlehrer aufspielt..

  • rtfe

    العصير شيء

  • palmbook

    Hmmm…I would like to add something. “Fried egg” in Thai is also a slang for a woman with little breasts, similar to “washboard” used in other cultures. It’s no wonder many women turned their heads toward him.

  • http://twitter.com/lingjaidee lingjaidee

    haha good idea! ;D

  • ProtoWhalePig

    What he or you or I could come up with doesn’t stop these pics from being boring.

  • Tim

    I think i’d prefer these if i didn’t know how they were shot to be honest, would have had a little bit of mystery about them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JNCalvara John Nathaniel Calvara

    “KODAK YOU” Must be a real shocker..

  • Mike

    No, you may not blow up the Pope.

  • impure

    The subconscious is looking for the dreamer

  • Slightly_Dum

    Just because a picture is in black and white doesn’t mean its good. Mundane

  • Ninja Please

    Being an asshole is not original.

  • berryz

    I agree. Too many shades of gray for me.

  • eraserhead12

    ooooobnoxious. how may times did he repeat this, only to yield the same mediocre results? it’s just photos of people thinking, “who the eff is this guy..”

    No joke, I was on the subway a couple days ago and some guy and his friend pulled out his camera and started taking unflattering, rude candids of people from all angles (if you catch my drift)–half of those photos had my face in them, since I was standing right there. ungodly obnoxious.

  • http://twitter.com/Phanyxx ♔ Nick Routley

    People in Vancouver wouldn’t look up from their smartphones.

  • http://twitter.com/kashapero AkivaPhoto.net

    This guy has Chutzpah!

  • asdfghj

    safe does not necessarily mean boring. why would you want a subway where people urinate anyway

  • Siliconelake.com

    Well i must say they are good, but still needed some extra edge. 6/10

  • http://obbop.wordpress.com/ obbop

    When transiting your local shopping mall in the USA you who are not immersed in your hand-held electronic device or cell phone ensure that YOU make way for thos oblivious to their surroundings.

    YOU are required to make way for those self-involved heathens.

    If only there were predators to attack and devour those so oblivious to their surroundings.

    The human herd does need to be culled.

  • salila

    Harmless humors – the girl on the left of the first pix makes my day. hahaha. I hope a lot of ppl do not start doing this. It will be annoying for us to ride the trains.

  • Jane

    safe, clean and no crazy people!

  • fileeep!

    I thought it very funny and a great idea, especially for
    such a conservative place as the Bangkok subway, some of the expressions are
    priceless. Well done.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarun2 Toon Sarun

    these are not good picture.

    and too rude.

    What he suspect people to do in public transport ?

    eating ?

    pissing?

    make love?

    too stupid , and lack of respect to people in the picture.

  • Verifunni

    Throw his phone out the window, then upload a pic of the look on his face! Haha!