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  • Writer's pictureJanejira Kalsmith

Janejira's Beginning...

Updated: May 15, 2022

#Photo #retoucher working long hours into the night. Life before #photoshop existed.

I was born in Bangkok, Thailand, to two phenomenal entrepreneurs who did not begin their careers as chefs but as studio photographers! We lived upstairs above the photography studio: the studio was our home. Working from home is the new way of life for many of us today, but that was the life for Asian families for many decades, if not always!

The studio was renowned for my father's perfectionistic style. During my formative years, moving through the studio and seeing Dad photographing clients—mainly women—I couldn't help to notice the time he spent on details, on the lighting adjustments, or the way their blouse collar sits. His ethereal brushes of the hairs if they didn't fall quite right on their faces.

Those were the days before Photoshop—the days before the birth of the Adobe suite. The more time you spend capturing the perfect image, the less time for editing. Hence, poor complexion was a dilemma. It was imperative to manipulate the film using a bladed tipped pen to scratch off dark spots or fill in voids with graphite.

The beginning of the academic year was the busiest time when photo IDs were in demand. Workers slumping behind the light box late into the wee hours was a usual scene. Krating Daeng–otherwise known as Red Bull–was used to keep them going. When the workers were too tired, Mom stepped in but never drank Red Bull and didn't allow me to try it due to the high caffeine content. (You're probably questioning my timeline. Red Bull before Adobe? That's right. Red Bull was invented in Thailand more than half a century ago.)

That was the beginning of my art & design career.

The space behind the studio was our kitchen. That's where I grew up, watching Mom work her magic. She loved to cook and had a natural talent for replicating dishes that she tasted. At the studio, with the radio in the background, listening to restaurant food reviews. On Sundays after church, we sometimes would drive for hours to try out these places. Food trips were not something I desired. Believe it or not, I was a very picky eater. In those days, I was still too stupid to realize that (Thai) food had nine distinct flavors that could please our palette–all at once! I only wanted to eat squid, and I only wanted it served on my favorite china. Yes, china, not a plastic plate! Not something unbreakable. China is as precious as the food in it, and vice versa. Stupid but sophisticated.

Bangkok is the most visited capital, and my home was located directly across from one of the largest markets in the city. (If you were a Bangkokian, you'd know.) The freshest foods were always available in abundance, 24-7.

That was the beginning of my culinary career.

They say that "the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree." I'm that fruit, and the tree was not up on a hill for me to roll away. That (home) was where my future got shaped.

Most of us never want to grow up to become our parents. I didn't always agree with their business model, but doing what I do today helps me understand them; why they did what they did.

I'm very proud to be my parents' daughter.

#photoretoucher #photoshop #artistsketch #redbull #childhood

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