Ice Harvest is a photographic series that observes the people, processes, and machinery that make up a small Thai ice making business. Special emphasis is given to portraits of the laborers in the factory, most of whom are migrants to Thailand.
I was born and raised in Pathumtani, Thailand (about 20 minutes outside of Bangkok) where my family operates an ice factory called T. Thanawan Ice Group, Thanawan being the name of my mother. Because of this I grew up surrounded by migrant workers from nearby countries, the majority of them from Myanmar.
Since moving to the United States in December 2010, I have had an opportunity to observe Thailand as an outsider with an insider’s perspective. Looking back to when my parents started the ice business, I noticed that Thailand has had many difficulties regulating the massive numbers of migrant workers coming from the surrounding countries in search of better wages or fleeing political turmoil. Many of these migrants are undocumented and lack work permits. The local Thai police exploit the situation by extorting money from many of the workers and their employers through threats of arrest or deportation.
My parents employ a number of migrant workers all of whom are legal immigrants and have work permits, yet their business and workers have been continually targeted by corrupt police. So far they have been unwilling to pay bribes and have been successful in keeping police away from the workers at the ice factory.