Sak Yant by Michael Pigneguy in Koh Maak, Thailand

This is a local fisherman. His wife is giggling as I take my shot. His flesh is decorated with Yantra and Sak Yant ( สักยันต ) tattoos, which are believed to have strong magical properties. There aren’t too many fisherman left on the island, most have turned to tourism, which offers a greater revenue for less labor. Most of the 500 or so inhabitants of the island, Koh Maak, are involved in tourism.

Forest and rubber plantations are being replaced by resorts. Whole swathes of beach are being sold to the highest bidder including the one that this fisherman’s hut sits beside. The peace, tranquility and nature which initially attracted the backpackers and low budget travelers is slowly being turned over to resorts designed to attract a higher class of traveller. Sometimes they come and sometimes they don’t. The backpackers move on to the next piece of untrammelled nature. And perhaps the fisherman returns to his fishing boat.

Small scale fishing consumes between 1 and 2.5 tons of fuel annually, whereas large scale fleets guzzle up between 14 and 19 million tons of oil. Smale scale industry catch is around 24 million tons compared to large scale nets of 29 million.

Each year when the monsoon rain and high seas have diminished I return to the island. And I hand out prints to those who have graciously allowed me to shoot them. That’s possibly my favorite time of the year.

Name:Michael Pigneguy

Place you live: Koh Maak, Thailand / Los Angeles, U.S.A.

Place your photo was taken: Koh Maak

Occupation: Breathing

Preoccupation: Permaculture

A perfect day? The perfect day for me is an island without tourists.

If someone was visiting what must they do? Relax and forget where they came from.

A perfect meal in Koh Maak?  The perfect meal includes something caught fresh from the sea that very day, washed down with a cold Leo Beer and a fat Thai stick.