My ginger cat, Ninja, lies sprawled behind my open laptop on a sturdy, stone picnic table with a sea view. My feet rest on a carpet of fallen leaves, a balmy, briny breeze fans me, and a patchwork of bright blue sky peeks through a green, leafy canopy overhead.
I work peacefully accompanied by my daily soundtrack, a lullaby of insect hums, bird song, rustling foliage, puttering boat engines, and gently lapping waves on the beach below.
I’m sitting by the shore of a wide, horseshoe-shaped bay on Ko Yao Noi (Small Long Island). I see verdant, tree-covered hills; wooden, stilt houses hugging the shore; an unbroken tract of labyrinthine mangrove forest thriving in the brackish shallows; and wooden boats bobbing to the rhythm of high water or lying stranded on the mudflats at low tide.
My open-air, seashore office looks out over the narrow sea channel separating two tropical islands in picturesque Phang Nga Bay between Phuket and the mainland of southern Thailand.
My day usually starts with the dawn chorus of tropical birdsong and the call to prayer from the local mosque. Some mornings I head out by bicycle or motorbike with my camera slung across my shoulder, heading across the narrow southern tip of the island. On the seaward side lies the dramatic karst scenery of Phang Nga Bay. An archipelago of jungle-clad limestone cliffs and islets jut skyward from the sunlit-flecked, everchanging hued sea.
I leisurely ride along the beach road, stopping to photograph spectacular seascapes framed between palm fronds. I search for varying foregrounds and photogenic angles, and I wait for a passing fishing boat with waving red marker flags to enter the frame against a pastel sunrise backdrop.
Other mornings my favorite walking and running route takes me through shady rubber tree plantations and along a dirt trail past dense jungle thicket and towering stands of creaking bamboo to a secluded beach. I often take my camera and have frequent wildlife sightings along the way.
My footsteps startle giant, prehistoric-looking monitor lizards that scurry away, crashing noisily into the tangled undergrowth. Agile squirrels perform incredible aerial acrobatics in the treetops. Many times, I’ve come across tribes of monkeys eating on the ground or swinging in the muddle of jungle branches, loudly shrieking alarm calls. The island is also home to an array of exotic birdlife. Every day I see flocks of primeval-looking hornbills as well as sea eagles gliding gracefully on the coastal thermals.
Some days I tour on my motorbike exploring rural, winding lanes and dirt tracks around the island, stopping often to photograph picture-postcard scenes. Herds of water buffalo graze on rice fields or lazily wallow in muddy water holes. High water waves crash along paradisiacal, palm-fringed beaches. Low tide exposes expanses of sand, rocks, and marshland, attracting wading birds and beaching anchored fishing boats.
Sometimes I swim in the balmy sea and bask in the shallows, or I paddle a kayak in the calm water along the shore. Every so often I’ll take a boat trip around the majestic limestone karst landscape of Phang Nga Bay. And often I eat fiery shrimp Tom Yum soup, Som Tam (spicy green papaya salad), or other Thai favorites, with a friend, dining barefoot on the sand at a beachside restaurant.
Back at my seaside office, I upload my photos to my laptop and edit, caption, and keyword them in Adobe Lightroom. Some photos I shoot specifically to grow my portfolios at multiple stock agencies. Other more artistic images, usually when I experiment with slow shutter speeds to create motion blur effects, I upload to my fine art photography website and Saatchi Art.
At the end of my day in paradise, the golden hour glow, evolving sunset shades, and moody blue hour provide glorious lighting and backdrops for my unquenchable quest for photo opportunities. As the sun dips below the horizon, the shrill chorus of cicadas, the muezzin calling worshippers to prayer, and the insistent meow of Ninja demanding dinner signal evening has arrived. And so goes tropical island life.