Watching the world burn

French photographer Alex de Blonay captures the hopelessness and impotence that Chiang Mai residents feel at the annual forest fires and pollution.

By | Mon 13 Apr 2020

French photographer Alex de Blonay is a Chiang Mai resident who is embarking on a portrait series to reflect on these extraordinary times.

“I wanted to do something around the fire and it was interesting to do it this way to represent the literal and figurative fire outside everyone’s window right now,” said de Blonay.

“While here in Chiang Mai our fire is literal, we are all touched by it in some way. The fire is relevant to us. The image here represents where we are in the world right now. We are powerless as we sit in our homes  and watch the world burning outside. In terms of the portrait series, I am interested in exploring the individuality and commonality of our species. Beyond our cultural, religious, social or age differences, we all feel the same emotions. Yet we all express them differently.”

“The smoky season taking over Chiang Mai each dry season is a complex issue with no clear cut solution. In this unbiased portrait series, I am interested in looking at the problem from a human (who benefits and who suffers) and factual point of view (health and environmental impact). Whether living in or passing through Chiang Mai,  I am keen to portray all sides of the argument.”

If you have any suggestions for de Blonay or are able to offer her some access to firefighters who may be interested in being subjects for her series, please contact

Full image below:

Watching Chiang Mai burn