I never planned to be a cinematographer. I had always loved photography, but growing up in a middle-class family, the arts were not considered a practical or even a viable path for me. My father was a detail-driven, inquisitive man, and he encouraged in me the need to understand the What and the How. My mother valued the opposite in life. She grew up in a small village in Thailand, and to her life was smaller, ﬁnite and fleeting. She embraced the moment, said what she thought and did what she wanted, damn the world. While my father had the measured patience and lucidity of a sniper, my mother was as volatile and unpredictable as her homeland. These elements roll and break within me everyday, and they inform my view of the world and how I break down a script into the vision of its cinematography.
The uncertainty, the turbulence of the ﬁlmmaking lifestyle is something that always appealed to me. I found the prospect of being locked up in a sedentary and repetitive life very unappealing, and as I searched for what I wanted to dedicate my life to, it was almost by accident that I stumbled upon cinematography. In a very short time, what was a curious diversion turned into the focus of my life. I loved the fact that not only was it a skill and that in many ways you needed to apprentice yourself to a master to gain the insight into the craft, but it certainly, in its most basic terms, was an art form. It was a way to bridge the gap between the aesthetics of my father and mother. The lessons of my father helped me tremendously in being able to master new equipment, formats and tools, and apply them in any manner of scene or situation. My mother taught me to trust my instincts and to respect the power of my emotions. In assessing and translating the drama and conﬂict of screenplays into their visual essentials, it’s obvious how these two sides of my evolution have proved invaluable to my development as a cinematographer.
I also feel so very lucky because I get to do something that I absolutely love. Two years before my father passed away in 2009 he told me something I found stunning. He told me he had always wanted to get into radio. He was in early 60s, and I asked him why he never gave it a shot. He looked and gave me a shrug and a little smile. I realized that I had been given a wonderful gift to be able to do something that challenges me. No story told or the experience of telling it is the same.