Get inspired by Karabo Mooki, a young South African photographer currently documenting urban life in Thailand.

Meet Karabo Mooki, a young South African photographer currently living and working in Thailand. Karabo is currently working on a few different projects and series, mostly focussing on documenting everyday life from a street photography perspective. We caught up with him to learn a bit more about his work and his experiences abroad.

Coincidentally, Greg M Powell, an American filmmaker also based in Thailand, published a great video interview with Karabo a few days ago:

Orms Connect: First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you love shooting?

My name is Karabo Mooki and I am 26 years of age. I am a full time photographer and artist from South Africa. I’ve been learning, experiencing, experimenting and appreciating the art of capturing and painting with light since 2007.

My greatest passion for photography developed through my eye for observation and capturing moments in time that depict a mood or an era in places that are unfamiliar to my everyday life. Being able to explore and have stories to tell from exploring different regions and cultures, allowing myself to and utilising the world as my paint pallet.

Who or what got you interested in photography as a career?

What got me interested in photography was the visual art of skateboarding, watching and partaking in skateboarding opened my eyes to a whole new world of creativity and individualism.

This platform taught me how to express myself in ways I could never have imagined, and through skateboarding I was introduced to photography, being able to capture this aggressive and simultaneously graceful sport on and off of the board immediately stole my heart. I was passionate about learning and failing and pushing myself through these creative platforms. I was then introduced to artists locally before I began viewing works outside of my own reach.


Siya Ntuli, Frontside Nosebluntslide, Pakchong, Thailand.

Three fundamental artists (and my parents) pushed me toward wanting more out of photography. Melissa Griesel, a friend who showed me a life without fear and care for those who only see things one dimensionally. A designer, friend and teacher, Nicci Martin, who edged me not to give up on myself when my creative spirits had reached an all time low, and local photographer Warren van Rensburg. Being in contact with these three people made me want to pursue this dream and desire to capture moments for the rest of my adult life.

What is your most memorable assignment or project, and why?

My most memorable moment behind the lens had to be the journey to Frafjord, Norway.

The journey and the beauty that was revealed through it. Frafjord is a small farming community in the municipality of Gjesdal, Rogaland, Norway. Travelling further away from Stavanger, a first world city, slowly disconnecting from the parallel paradises created in our bubbled distracted society. Losing connection with the internet and slowly watching my cellphone reception dissipate, realizing the impending fate of a dead cellphone battery and no power sources in the mountainous neck of the fjords.


Self-portrait, Norway.

Creating a fair amount of distance via different modes of transport. The train that stopped mid journey due to technical issues and weather. The bus from the one horse town, which transports its local residents (whom had never seen an African in their neck of the woods) to their respectable destinations. Embracing the strategic stares while sharing the ride with them. Journeying along under Stavangers’ infamous somber skies.

The last leg of the journey was the icing on top of it all. Waiting in at an abandoned bus station, while the weather continued to show no mercy, forcing campers to come together while we waited on a mysterious bus in below freezing rampant winds, and showering sleet sheltered by hope and what was left of the rooftop. Cold conditions I had never encountered having lived in South Africa for the majority of my childhood.

“A night slept in a perfectly insulated Norwegian cabin was interrupted abruptly by the howling winds channeling through the Fjords. Waking up and getting up with my Nikon memory maker and light capturer at 4:17am was a blessing I will hold onto forever.”

Witnessing the sun rising from the depths of the fjord and listening to the winds timidly quiet down as the sound of water slowly crashing on the pebbles that beach the shore meditated my mind body and soul. Being able to hear my own thoughts and for an instant, which created a sense of clarity for even just a moment in time. That divine moment for me was so pure.

The self portrait series that I managed to shoot amongst all this natural beauty, were selected by the Norwegian Epilepsy Foundation for a select exclusive public exhibition in Oslo and by the Fjord Norway & Visit Norway organisations and ranked in the top 10 photographs for the best of Fjord Norway 2014 selection. These achievements made me realise that I could break into the global art market and that I could turn my photographic dreams into reality.

If you didn’t pursue photography, what else would you have liked to do?

If I wasn’t pursuing photography I would most likely be involved with media arts.


“Anywhere and Everywhere”, 35mm, Thailand.

What’s your favourite website or blog?

Apart from my own Tumblr, my favourite art driven webpage is Mash Kulture. I frequent other Tumblr pages too, as well as anything portrait photography related. I find it hard to have a favourite when there is an infinite amount of inspirational sources in the world wide web.

How do you keep yourself busy or entertained when you’re not shooting or editing?

In my free time, I like to frequent galleries or studying documentaries or films with inspiring cinematography. I quite like like being outdoors too, skateboarding, keeps my desire for searching the unknown rich and it also teaches me to push my mind, body and spirit and more importantly to stay curious.


“Bangkok Bus Terminal Bandit”, Thailand.

If you could have a drink or a cup of coffee with any photographer, who would you pick, and why?

If I could have the opportunity to have a cuppa with any photographer it would have to be Vivian Maier, to discover a piece of the mystique behind the undiscovered nanny who made an incredible impact on the world of photography.

For more insight into my photography please visit my Tumblr and my Instagram.

Here’s some more of Karabo’s street photography from Thailand:


“Children of the Railway”, 35mm, Thailand.


“Coming Soon”, Bangkok, Thailand.


“No Luck on These Corners”, woman selling lottery tickets in Bangkok. 35mm, Thailand.


“Metropolis”, 35mm double exposure, Bangkok, Thailand.


“Siamese Monks”, 35mm, Thailand.


“Bangkok Daily”, 35mm, Thailand.


“Children of the Railway”, 35mm, Thailand.


“No Luck on These Corners”, woman selling lottery tickets in Bangkok. 35mm, Thailand.


“Lonely Hearts Club”, Hua Hin, Thailand.

Photographs shared with permission.