Photojournalism | Winner

Alain Schroeder

Brussels / BE

Muay Thai Kids


Poverty forces many residents from Isaan to seek work in Bangkok, but fearing the temptations of city life (drugs, gangs, sex trade…), children are often left behind under the care of grandparents. 
To keep them out of trouble, and with the prospect of earning money to support the family, kids are enrolled in Muay Thai training camps (the traditional martial art of Thai boxing that is the country’s national sport) as early as 5, and can be competing by 6-7 years old. Every story is similar, the kids dream of one day fighting on TV, building a house for their parents and defending the pride of their community, while gym owners, trainers and families rely heavily on their earnings. Betting is fierce and the pressure on the children is palpable. Few will become champions, but for poor kids with limited options, Muay Thai is a way to meet the cultural expectation of helping their families and a chance at a better life.


Belgian photographer Alain Schroeder (b. 1955) has been working in the industry for over four decades. During his tenure as a sports photographer in the 80s, his shots appeared on more than 500 magazine covers. Book assignments and editorial pieces with subjects as diverse as travel, art, culture and human interest followed and in 1989, he co-founded the Belgian photo agency, Reporters. As COO of the company, Schroeder led the business from the golden years of analog photography into the digital age.      

In 2013, he uprooted his life, trading-in his shares in Reporters, to pursue life on the road with a camera. Schroeder now travels the world shooting stories focusing on social issues, people and their environment. «I am not a single shot photographer. I think in series,» he says adding, «I strive to tell a story in 10-15 pictures, capturing the essence of an instant with a sense of light and framing.»

He has won many international awards including Nikon Japan, Nikon Belgium, TPOTY, Istanbul Photo, Days Japan, Trieste Photo, PX3, IPA, MIFA, BIFA, PDN, the Fence, Lens Culture, Felix Schoeller, Siena, POYI and World Press Photo.