Look Happy or Else

Kirsten Luce's Image

A family of tourists posed with elephants on Lucky Beach – a popular destination in Thailand. In the age of social media, tourism involving wildlife ‘photo ops’ has been burgeoning. Although many performing Asian elephants are abused and forced to act unnaturally, their keepers often have little choice of employment.

Once widespread in forests, Asian elephants are now endangered in the wild: only around 3,500 remain in Thailand’s national parks and reserves. There are also more than 3,000 domesticated elephants in Thailand, continuing a long history of human use, formerly in transport, war and logging, but today mainly as entertainment.

Behind the lens

Kirsten Luce

Kirsten Luce


Kirsten is a photojournalist based in Brooklyn, USA, who started out at daily newspapers in the USA and Mexico. She received an award from Pictures of the Year International and a Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography. Her work has been exhibited at Visa pour l'Image, The United States Senate, the National Gallery of Canada, Harvard University and other galleries and museums.

Image details

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
  • 35mm f1.4 lens
  • 1/640 sec at f6.3  •   ISO 200
Copyright in WPY competition photographs remains the property of the respective photographers. You may not copy, share, reproduce or republish the photographs except as expressly permitted by copyright law. For media image usage enquiries, please contact us.

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