Meet Poupay, the photographer who’s got sarcasm in her veins

The Bangkok-born and New York-based photographer tells us why she’s attracted to the type of art that can depict our society through the lens of dark humour.

Date
26 October 2021

Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet wants to make us see the world in a way we might only see it if we were in the grips of a fever dream, or experiencing the effects of an illegal substance. The photographer who goes by Poupay was born in Bangkok, Thailand in 1992 and realised she had a passion for photography in childhood. Before hitting the irreverent and chaotic streets of New York City, she was best known as an emerging Thai street photographer.

“At first it was for fun,” she tells It’s Nice That. “Then I became more serious with it, so I decided to quit my job and went to NYC to study photography at ICP (International Center of Photography School),” she elaborates. At ICP, Poupay started to understand that photography reflected her inner self. “I learnt that through the process of shooting and editing, I can understand what I see and what I am interested in. Photography helps me to define who I am and where I belong.”

Sounding somewhat biblical, Poupay claims that “in the beginning,” she was taught to make “one-liner punch photos.” But it dawned on her after experience and practice that there was no one way to take good photos, there is no rule book. “I started digging into my archive and figured out I love shooting ordinary details,” she adds. She uses heavy flash and vivid colour “to make fun of the commercial photography world. Also, sarcasm is in my veins. I am attracted to the type of art which talks about our society in a black comedy voice.” She notes her love for Martin Parr and Maurizio Cattelan (the founder of Toilet Paper Magazine) for the dark humour in their respective work.

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Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, Untitled (Copyright © Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, 2021)

Her images are effervescent and inimitable: a man holding a dressed-up inflatable comes off the subway; a priest is smothered in pies; a man in a suit’s huge rat-tail hangs from beneath his coat and spills onto the street. This is daily life in New York as Poupay sees it, and as others often miss. In her refreshing style, she can make the daily mess of life seem less serious and more exciting.

“As a street photographer, I always just go out and see what inspires me to shoot,” Poupay tells It’s Nice That. “Then I will look through my photos in the archive. From that, I can see what I’m drawn to.” One of her favourite projects was when she was studying at ICP. Awkward Pleasures is a collection of street images that present “the eccentricities of the seemingly mundane, which exist everywhere but require special attention to be seen.” Poupay is intrigued by “little surprises hiding everywhere without our notice”. Since she started seeing them, there’s been “no such thing as a boring day.”

These days, she’s working on a project about the ever disappointing American Dream. “Like many others, I came to America chasing it. In 2019, I felt hopeful in my goal as a photographer but I never realised Covid-19 would hit the United States three months later.” After months of lockdown, Poupay was feeling lost; she shot this photo series to reflect her perspective during this “historical period” in humanity. The project remains a work in progress.

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Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, Chinese Lunar New Year (Copyright © Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, 2020)

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Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, Umbrella (Copyright © Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, 2021)

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Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, American Dream (Copyright © Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, 2020)

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Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, Cake Man (Copyright © Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, 2020)

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Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, Awkward Pleasures (Copyright © Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, 2018)

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Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, Awkward Pleasures (Copyright © Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, 2017)

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Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, Fort Tyron Park (Copyright © Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, 2021)

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Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, Instagrammable Restroom (Copyright © Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, 2020)

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Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, Awkward Pleasures (Copyright © Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, 2018)

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Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, Valentines Day (Copyright © Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, 2021)

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About the Author

Dalia Al-Dujaili

Dalia joined It’s Nice That as a news writer in July 2021 after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh. She's written for various indie publications such as Azeema and Notion, and ran her own magazine and newsletter platforming marginalised creativity.

dad@itsnicethat.com

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