Chitt Chongmankhong (1922–2009) By Veal, Clare
Chitt Chongmankhong was one of Thailand’s foremost artistic photographers, and is today referred to as “the father of Thai photography” (Chongmankhong 1998: 23). He is recognized for his innovative use of darkroom techniques, and would often say that thirty percent of photographic accomplishment is in taking the photograph, and seventy percent is a result of having expertise in the darkroom. In addition to owning his own commercial photographic store, from 1958 Chitt was also a member of the Royal Thai Photographic Society (RTPS) and served as the organization’s president from 1987–1988. He frequently traveled outside Bangkok to take photographs of the Thai landscape and portraits of ordinary people, sometimes with other members of the RTPS. His photographic compositions were generally carefully planned, sometimes adopting a pictorialist style in their atmospheric rendering of light and shadow and in their representation of different weather conditions and landscapes. However, Chitt’s constant fascination with darkroom techniques meant that his work also sometimes took the form of surrealistic collages or interrogations into the photographic medium itself. While in his early career his style was unpopular within Thailand’s photographic community, his receipt of many international awards eventually legitimized his work locally. Chitt became a National Artist of Thailand in 1995.