I have been lucky to visit the Maeklong Railway Market near Bangkok twice, the first time in 2016 and then in 2018. I was not too thrilled with my photos on the first trip. But the second time around I was better prepared. So, this post is about photography tips for Maeklong Railway Market near Bangkok.
If you know about the Railway Market, you can skip this paragraph and go straight to the photography tips below. Maeklong Railway Market is on the either side of the Railway Tracks and the umbrellas cover the tracks! They are taken down to allow the train to pass and put back immediately again. This is the most exciting time to be at the market, when the train passes through it. The train schedule for 2018 is, please double check for the timings and be prepared for delays from the schedule. Train Arrivals are : 8.30 a.m., 11.10 a.m., 2.30 p.m. and 5.40 p.m. Train Departures are: 6.20 a.m., 9.00 a.m., 11.30 a.m. and 3.30 p.m. It is about 80 km from Bangkok. You can also stay at Amphawa and enjoy the nearby areas. Now to the photography tips!
Be Prepared for the Crowds
Maeklong Railway Market is a crowded place. I visited it in the morning for the 8.30 train, on both the trips and it is teeming with people even in the morning. They are everywhere, they will be in your frame as you will be too. So, decide carefully where you wish to place yourself when the train passes.
Be Prepared for the Smell
When the market is on the railway tracks and the umbrellas are up, you might notice the smell of sea food and meat if you are in the middle of the market. I am a vegetarian and not particularly fond of that smell. The first time I was unprepared and it bothered me. The second time around I knew what to expect, so I moved quickly through the middle and the smell did not affect me so much!
Place Yourself at the Either End
I would recommend standing at the Maeklong Railway Station end or near the crossing so that you have some freedom to move. The 8.30 am train goes to the Railway Station and goes back at 9.00 am through the market again. If I have to do it again I will stand away from the station at 8.30 am and close to the station at 9.00 am.
If you are near the station before 9.00 am you get to climb up the engine too which in my opinion is a bonus.
When the train starts moving at 9.00 am you can stand on the track as soon as it has crossed your end. Be ready, everyone else has the same idea too. So, for a few seconds you get to to photograph the market standing right on the tracks with the train in full view. You cannot do this from the far end for the departing train as you can get on the track only after it has crossed the market!
For the 8.30 am train the reverse is true, you are better off away from the railway station as you can come on the tracks as soon as the train has crossed your end and moving toward the railway station.
Don’t Get Stuck in the Middle
Do whatever but don’t get stuck in the middle. If you get stuck in the middle, there will be a thousand cell phones in your frame, you can make a creative use of that too, but it was not my favorite spot for clicking the market while the train is passing through it.
Video or Photographs
While it is entirely up to you what you wish to create but I found it difficult to do both. On my first trip I was able to do only a video, on my second trip I ended up with photos only! The video above is from the 2016 trip.
Unless you mount your video camera some place chances are you can’t do both. On my first trip I did a video and took out the stills from the video. The second time around I used my DSLR and forgot to take a video.
Also I forgot to sit down and alter the perspective while the train was passing through the tracks! If I go there yet again I will sit down to take a few low angle shots!
That is all from me at the moment. If you have a tip to add please do so in the comment section!
PS. I was invited to visit Thailand by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi. This was my 10th trip to Thailand.