White Karen Hill Tribe ~ Thailand


A Sgaw Hill tribe woman, also known as the White Karen, weaving a traditional piece of cloth in a village near Chiang Mai, North of Thailand

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The Karen Tribe is by far the largest of all Hill Tribes in Thailand, representing about 300,000 people.

Mainly concentrated in the North of Thailand, near the Burmese border, they are divided into many sub-groups like the Kayan Lahwi (also known as the long-necks), the Red Karen, the Black Karen and the White Karen like this woman.

They often live in bamboo houses on stilts in the Mae Hong Song area or near Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in the mountains. Many have turned to tourism to sustain while some remain skilled farmers.

This woman from the White Karen tribe was weaving a long piece of cloth used as a shawl for tourists. Each piece would take her a few days to a few weeks to finish depending on the pattern.

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Quick Tips:

When shooting people with a very wide angle camera, avoid placing people on the edges of the photo. They may get distorted. Instead place them in the middle or go straight up close to achieve a “fisheye” effect.

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Are you interested in improving your photography? Would you like to have an honest opinion about your work? I have launched a new feature on Canvas of Light: FREE PHOTO CRITIQUES! Just go to this Photo Critique Page, follow the procedure and I’ll gladly share my knowledge with you and help you improve as much as I can. Enjoy!

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  • Excellent shot of the hilltribe lady doing her weaving.

  • Michael Scanlan

    I am currently working on some articles about Thailand for a magazine and am looking for some images of Hill Tribe members in their native costume. Would you be interested in providing any of your images? There would be no renumeration, but you would recieve credit for any images provided.

    By the way, your work is quite beautiful.

    Kindest regards,

    Michael Scanlan

    • Hello Michael,
      Thanks for reaching out but sorry, I can’t provide any photo without remuneration. I’ve worked hard on creating these shots and exposure won’t be enough to cover the cost :)
      Thanks for reaching out!