Peter Nitsch: Shophouses 4×8 m Bangkok

Shophouses - 4 x 8 m Bangkok Peter Nitsch

Peter Nitsch is an international award winning photographer and designer who has split his life between Munich, Germany and Thailand over the past decade.

His latest exhibition is called Shophouses 4×8 m Bangkok, where he explores the relationship between business and home of Bangkok residents through photographs. This is definitely something as a photographer I am very interested in as the little shops scattered around Bangkok and all over Thailand are a treat to photograph.

Peter’s work speaks for itself as just last year this same exhibit won honorable mention at the Los Angles International Photography Awards. I had a chance to pick Peter’s brain a little about his work and the upcoming exhibition in Bangkok.

Talen: How long have you been a photographer?

Peter Nitsch: As a professional photographer since 1999/2000. But I have been taking photographs just for fun since I have been a Teenager, well, now almost 20 years ago. Gee, I can’t believe that time has rushed that quickly …

Talen: What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

Peter Nitsch: Some years ago I started focusing on strictly so called art photography in the urban environment.

Shophouses - 4 x 8 m Bangkok Peter Nitsch

Talen: As an amateur photographer I am always interested in what other photographers are using. What gear do you use and did you use anything special when working on the shophouse photos?

Peter Nitsch: I like to keep it simple: Analogue – One old Hasselblad V system with 100 and 50 mm objective, Gitzo Titanium tripod (superlight and super expensive, but worth when traveling a lot, because it’s so light), Digital – One Canon EOS 5D Mark II and EOS 1D Mark II, fixed lenses 100 and 50 mm. I really don’t use any other wide-angle or superzoom. Further a small point and shoot Canon G5 and since one year I like to take snippets with my iPhone just for fun. In a few months I will set up a section on my website showing every week a new iPhone photo …

Talen: Many of us have fallen in love with Thailand and visit often or live there, what drew you to Thailand?

Peter Nitsch: My wife, she’s from Bangkok and I met her back in 2000 in Munich/Germany, while working on a design project. She’s a industrial designer. Through her eyes I travelled to Thailand the first time and immediately fell in love with Thailand her family and now I’m positively glued to Thailand like Sticky Rice with Mango. Way back in the old school days I have been enthused to Chinese kung-fu films and Asia in general. I think I’m more Asian than European … :)

Shophouses - 4 x 8 m Bangkok Peter Nitsch

Talen: Living between Germany and Thailand must be a great joy. What are some of the upsides and downsides of this dual lifestyle?

Peter Nitsch: I love to live and work in both countries. For me there’s nothing real up and down, as far as I can say up to now.

Talen: You have won international awards as both a designer and a photographer, has either of these fields pushed you harder to excell more in the other or do they both exist in harmony for you?

Peter Nitsch: For my kind of work it’s a perfect symbiosis, like left and right hand. You both use them for different things, one more than the other, and sometimes you use them together as one to grab things more tightly.

Talen: You have a show coming up in Bangkok in early August called Shophouses, what was the inspiration behind this series of photographs?

Peter Nitsch: To show arrangements that have developed from the necessities of everyday life and work on just 4 x 8 metres, the dimension of an average Bangkok shophouse, which is mostly crammed full to the last centimeter. I like that! A quote of the German Author Regina Moths describes it more detailed than I can do: “In Peter Nitsch’s photos, the visual appearance creates an almost physical sensation of constriction, which is followed by an ever-present awareness of improvisation.

One bumps one’s western elbows against the seamless transitions between the breadwinning, commercial or service providing products and our own carefully preserved sphere of personal privacy … Thus, Peter Nitsch manages to keep a balance of intimacy and behind the curtain views, which tell a thousand enchanting tales, yet he simultaneously insists on maintaining a distance in order to preserve everyone’s dignity:  Both the observer and the observed.”

Shophouses - 4 x 8 m Bangkok Peter Nitsch

Talen: Can you tell us a little about the gallery where your exhibition will be taking place and what dates the show will be on?

Peter Nitsch:  It´s a perfect coincidence, the images will be shown in the Kathmandu Gallery (87 Pan Road, Silom, 10500 Bangkok, Thailand, which is itself wonderfully-restored old pre-war Shophouse and is located near the Indian (Sri Mariamma) Temple in Bangkok’s financial district.

One could say SHOPHOUSES in a Shophouse. The owner, a Thai photo-artist Manit Sriwanichpoom, is a wonderful photography artist himself! For the exhibition I want to thank Miss Elke Tiedt and Marco Merten from the German Embassy Bangkok, who have been willing to support the exhibition.

The Shophouse exhibition will be on the following dates:

Speech by German Ambassador Dr. Hanns Schumacher
07/08/2010 (from 6.30 – 9 pm)

07/08/2010 – 26/09/2010

Talen: Will you have photographs or prints available for purchase?

Peter Nitsch: Yes, there are 37 photographs available for purchase. In the exhibition I will show 13 images as prints, the biggest one will be 180 x 180 cm, twelve of them in 70 x 70 cm and the other ones will be smaller sizes.

Talen: What does the future hold for Peter Nitsch, will there be more Bangkok exhibitions?

Peter Nitsch: I’m not sure, but there will be some upcoming exhibitions in Europe next year, with a new topic. And I’m planing to expand my website and some special projects exclusively available for the iPhone and iPad.

Shophouses - 4 x 8 m Bangkok Peter Nitsch

I’d like to thank Peter for letting me pick his brain and if you would like more information on Peter’s work you can visit his web site at

For more information on the upcoming exhibition and the Kathmandu Gallery itself  you can visit

I’ll definitely be checking this exhibition out in September…


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20 Responses to Peter Nitsch: Shophouses 4×8 m Bangkok
  1. Mike
    July 29, 2010 | 7:43 am

    Talen very interesting given my love of photography and Thailand. Peter certainly is a superb artist.

    I first discovered true shop houses in Penang, Malaysia and have always been fascinated by them. I also found some excellent examples in Singapore too.

    Locally here although there is a strong Chinese influence I have yet to find any examples in PKK.

    Great photo’s from Peter and a very informative interview from you. Thanks for sharing this one.
    Mike recently posted..Thai Village Life-CultureMy Profile

    • Talen
      July 30, 2010 | 12:27 am

      Mike, I first discovered shophouses in Pattaya then BKK I think some of the best I have seen have been in Chinatown. Peter’s photos really are great and I can’t wait to see the exhibition.

  2. Catherine
    July 29, 2010 | 8:20 pm

    Talen, thank you for the wonderful interview with Peter Nitsch. Peter’s shop house portfolio is inspiring.
    Catherine recently posted..Complete Thai- David Smyth Updates Teach Yourself ThaiMy Profile

    • Talen
      July 30, 2010 | 12:28 am

      Cat, I am dragging you to this exhibition like it or not…maybe we can come up with a similar themed photo exhibit…we can call it “Ladyboys” :P

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  4. Steve
    July 29, 2010 | 10:40 pm

    While I’m not a photographer I found this interview to be very interesting and informative and it actually made me feel as if I wanted to explore photography more. Thanks for the great content Talen and maybe by the time you see me I’ll have an EOS slung over my shoulder and ready to shoot.
    Steve recently posted..Thailand Travel – The SongthaewMy Profile

    • Talen
      July 30, 2010 | 12:33 am

      Steve, you should definitely invest in a good camera as there are so many great opportunities in Thailand for pictures.

  5. Michael
    July 30, 2010 | 12:14 am

    What is amazing about Thailand is the way that part of the world works. The people are amazing. Working independently in these small shops where the individuals are providing to individuals. Your images represent what big box stores will never be able to provide and something vanishing in the west.

  6. SiamRick
    July 30, 2010 | 11:46 am

    Nice job on that feature, Talen. I had a cordial exchange with Peter on his exhibit but couldn’t promise to write about something I hadn’t experienced first-hand. However, your interview story was a great idea.

    Must say that critic’s description of the Shophouses pictures made for some very interesting reading.
    SiamRick recently posted..Why move to Thailand Why move at allMy Profile

    • Talen
      August 1, 2010 | 6:53 am

      Rick, it seems like a real interesting exhibit…I’m always taking photo’s of shophoses. I’ll be checking it out in September and will probably do an update on it.

  7. Martyn
    August 1, 2010 | 2:05 am

    Talen a great scoop and a brilliant interview. Your questions were perfect.

    Shophouse photography is a new one to me but I’ve got to give it a thumbs up. You wouldn’t believe people could cram so much into a small space.

    It reminds me of some of the shophouses you see in places like Udon Thani and the smaller towns. The aisles if they exist are so small you’re scared to turnaround in case you knock everything over. my favourite picture is the one second from the bottom. Ghost like figures in a shop selling Christ knows what.

    Good luck to Peter with his forthcoming exhibition.
    Martyn recently posted..Udon Thani’s Hidden Treasure – Ban DungMy Profile

  8. Talen
    August 1, 2010 | 6:55 am

    Martyn, Thanks…I think the picture you like is a laundry shop but then again I could be very wrong. I’ve seen many similar shops in NP …one of my favorites is the herb shop…place is crammed to the rafters with all manner of herbs and odd insect stuff.

  9. Catherine
    August 1, 2010 | 7:13 am

    China Town is my favourite place to go for shop houses in BKK. I don’t often go because it’s at the other side of town, but when I do it’s a photographer’s treat.
    Catherine recently posted..Complete Thai- David Smyth Updates Teach Yourself ThaiMy Profile

    • Talen
      August 1, 2010 | 9:29 am

      Chinatown is awesome for such photos…my favorite that I took was after a massive downpour and this woman is sitting in her shop at her desk working away in 3 feet of water.

      • Catherine
        August 1, 2010 | 9:33 am

        I have this amazing black cat drinking out of a flower pot. And others of course. But I haven’t spent near enough time taking photos of shop houses… that’ll be next.
        Catherine recently posted..Thailand’s Mysterious Red BoxesMy Profile

  10. Martyn
    August 2, 2010 | 3:09 am

    Talen I remember a glass ware (and odds and sods) shophouse in Tak where the aisles were so small you literally had to walk out backwards. If you were near any glass ware you kept walking past it and then slowly spun round the other way to make your exit out of the shop. Knocking the glass stuff over would have cost a fair baht or two.

    • Talen
      August 3, 2010 | 12:08 pm

      Martyn, I’ve been in a few shops like that scared to move while little old Thai ladies with armloads of goods walk easily by.