Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Need to Get Deeper

Been thinking about my work, I need to get deeper. All the great photographers I have studied got to a deeper level with their images, they got to another level of understanding which I have rarely reached, if at all. I need to get deeper.

Quote: Ansel Adams“

“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what
one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Quote: Susan Meiselas

"For me, the idea was that through photography one could interact with the world, be a witness to society's problems and act on them......It wasn't that photography ended wars exactly, but it engaged in debate. It was part of a social dialogue."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Playing with the F5 and 4x5 Neg Problems

Over the last few days I have been developing the 4x5 ladyboy film and playing with my Nikon F5 (20-35mm zoom). I am getting some technical errors with the 4x5 film, fogged or just plain exposed film along with underexposed images. Two of the ladyboys I photographed seemed to be underexposed when I shot them with the Bananarama, not sure what I did wrong, damn. Other ladyboys seem OK, not happy with some of the compositions but that was to be expected going in because of the problems I had with the lens and rangefinder composition lines (not exactly the same).

The Nikon F5 is so nice to hold and shoot with, you have lots of options and it is damn fast which is great when your photograhing people on the run so to speak.

Great Photography Users Group

Found and love this site, it is highly recommended. Many knowledgeable people and lots of nice work shown.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hong Kong Photos

I have been studying the work of Sebastiao Salgado and the Magnum photographers over the last few days. There is a real beauty and honesty to Salgado's work, a truth that is difficult to achieve on the run when your working with larger formats.

I am taking a trip to Hong Kong and maybe mainland China in November and have decided to shoot 35mm b/w film with 2 Nikon F5 cameras. I want to try to go back to my roots a bit and shoot like I used to.

I believe what I will do is take 2 Nikon F5s, one camera with a 20-35mm F 2.8 lens and the second camera with a 35-70mm F 2.8 lens. I will shoot Tri-x film developed in D-76 (old school).

Cambodian Baby Tool Kok Slum Phnom Penh, Cambodia 1999 and Cambodian Boys Tool Kok Slum Phnom Penh, Cambodia 1999 were shot with a Nikon F5 and 20-35mm F2.8 lens.

Mai Vietnamse Sex Worker in Poi Pet Brothel, Cambodia 2003 was shot with a Contax G2 and 28mm lens with flash.

I am pretty sure I can get some good images in Hong Kong(China) but I am unsure of what I will be photographing. I guess I will just have to wander and search for images but I prefer to photograph people that I feel a connection to, will see how it goes, I will do my best. Maybe these photographs will lead to more personal work in other parts of Asia or Africa with the F5s.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Quote: Diane Arbus

" Photographs should not evade facts, they should not be evading what something really looks like. "

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Quote: Vincent Van Gogh

" If you hear a voice within you say ' you cannot paint ' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. "

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nut 20 Ladyboy Sex Worker, Thailand 2008

This was the second photo session for Nut, I photographed her last year also.

Nicky 26 Ladyboy Sex Worker, Thailand 2008

Auria Ladyboy Sex Worker, Thailand 2008

Mamiya twin reflex with flash shot. Auria was the first Ladyboy I shot this trip, boy was I nervous. Photos were shot in a dark sex shortime room complete with pink floresent light, I could hardly see what I was doing, ended up accidently exposing 5 sheets of 4x5 and making other technical errors. When I finished the shooting two weeks later most of the nerves were gone as was most of the technical mistakes. I have to continue to make photographs often to keep the mojo going!

Pui 21 Ladyboy Sex Worker, Thailand 2008

Emmy 25 Ladyboy Sex Worker, Thailand 2008

Cake 22 Ladyboy Sex Worker, Thailand 2008

I will post a few of my work print scans from the last trip, first photo up is of Cake a ladyboy Sex Worker. The photo was shot with the Bananarama and flash in a shortime sex room.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Thailand Eyes Ban on Teen Castration

Not really photo related but found this article of interest especially in regards to my just finished portraits of Thai ladyboy sex workers.
Shanthy Nambiar and Suttinee Yuvejwattana, Bloomberg News

Paiboon Marvin started wearing dresses and makeup before he became a teenager. Now 16, he wants to be castrated as the next step toward becoming a woman.

Until recently, that wouldn't have been a problem: Boys of any age in Thailand could have their testicles removed for as little as 5,000 Baht ($150) with no questions asked. Now Paiboon may have to wait two years because the procedure will be outlawed for those under 18, after pressure from gay rights activists who say youngsters may follow a trend and regret it later.

"I don't think I'm too young to do it," says Paiboon, wearing a green-ribboned top, shorts, mascara and pink lipstick. "I know I won't change my mind. I've known since I was a kid that I'm not male."

The business school student has support from doctors who perform more than 1,000 castrations and sex-change operations annually in the Buddhist kingdom, which has one of the world's largest transsexual communities. They argue many minors seeking castration have gender identity disorder and surgery is an essential treatment.

"We should respect their decisions and age shouldn't be a fixed requirement," says Aurchat Kanjanapitak, president of the Medical Association of Thailand, which represents 4,500 doctors.

"If someone happens to have a woman's heart in a man's body and doesn't want to keep his testicles, the change should be allowed."

The Ministry of Public Health in April suspended all castrations, except to treat life-threatening conditions, while the Medical Council of Thailand draws up the first regulations governing the nation's sex-change industry.

The rules, due by year-end, will forbid the castration of boys under 18, while those under 21 will need parental approval and psychoanalysis before undergoing the procedure, says the council's secretary-general, Amnaj Kussalanan.

"Sometimes kids may make decisions carelessly because it is fashionable, or because they have insufficient information or a herd mentality," Amnaj says.

There are about 180,000 transgender people in the country of 66 million, according to Sam Winter, a psychologist at the University of Hong Kong who studies transgender issues in Asia. Castration is often a precursor to full sex-reassignment surgery.

Buddhist teachings hold that people can be reincarnated as males or females, which makes Thais tolerant of gender swapping, says Robert Thurman, a professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies at Columbia University, New York.

"The hysteria about sex is something special to the West," he says.

Kathoeys, a Thai term meaning "ladyboys" that applies to men who live as women, are a common sight in Thailand. Often dressed in high heels, with fake eyelashes and polished nails, they work as makeup sales staff, waitresses and hotel receptionists. Some end up in the sex trade.

Transsexual beauty pageants are popular, including the largest, "Miss Tiffany's Universe," which is broadcast live on television. The Kampang School in northeastern Thailand built separate unisex toilets after a survey showed 200 of its 2,600 secondary-level students were transsexual.

"Sexual preferences can change as you grow older," says Natee Teerarojjanapongs, the Bangkok-based co-ordinator of the Sexual Diversity Group, who led the campaign to regulate the sex-change industry after he met boys as young as 15 who wanted to go under the knife. "You can't change it back."

Noon, a receptionist at a Bangkok hotel who asked to be identified by her nickname, became depressed after her sex change at 19.

"Right after the operation, I started feeling that maybe it was wrong," says Noon, 28. "I wasn't ready for the surgery."

Noon cut her hair short at 21 and tried dressing as a man again. "I wasn't successful," she says. "There should be some control on sex-change and castration operations."

Thailand's regulation vacuum means some clinics fall short of international recommendations on standards of care from the Minneapolis-based World Professional Association for Transgender Health Inc., which advises against surgery on those under 18.

"It is extremely unusual for anyone aged under 18 to be offered surgery anywhere in the world," according to guidelines published by the U.K.'s Department of Health, titled Medical Care for Gender Variant Children and Young People.

Even so, some doctors in Thailand are unhappy with the proposed age rule.

Boys should be allowed to "express their feeling," says Thep Vechavisit, 55, who has castrated patients as young as 17 with parental consent and is preparing a lawsuit to challenge the new guidelines.

"They're in a very stressful situation, psychologically and socially," says Thep, who charges 5,000 baht for a castration at his Pratunam Polyclinic in central Bangkok.

Paiboon, who first had to overcome opposition from his mother, can't wait. He's turned to the Internet to find a surgeon prepared to operate in secret.

"It's my own money, my own body," he says. "It's nobody else's business."

First Contacts

Did a bunch of contacts from the 4x5 film developed so far. Some of them look quite good, think there are some strong photographs in the first batch of 4x5 negs. I will be printing some fiber 11x14 images up for a club meeting and also do some RC 8x10 prints for scanning so I can post them on the web page and this blog, should have some photos online next week.

Quote: Photographer Henry Holmes Smith

" At a certain point, humans creating art no longer need to be told what they're supposed to do. "

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Developing Film

This morning I started to develop the 4x5 sheet film from the Ladyboy series. So far the images look OK, sharpness, exposure seem fine. Sometimes the composition is not quite what I wanted but that is a result of the guess work I have to do at times with the Polaroid rangefinder in the Bananarama. I might have to do some cropping on the negs when I print, something I am not a big fan of.

Censorship and Control of Photographers in Iraq

The US gov't has learned from the Vietnam war, now they control and ban photographers that depict the Iraq war in ways unacceptable to Washington.

VAAA Submission Deadline

I found out today that the deadline for submissions to the VAAA gallery for the 2009 season is Sept 15. I have already been rejected 3 times for a 1 man show at this gallery so I thought why not make it 4!! The deadline will push me to work hard in the darkroom over the next 40 or so days, deadlines have a tendency to make me work my ass off. Even when I am no doubt rejected again at least I will have much of the work from the last shoot developed and can use it to make submissions to galleries across Canada and the States.

I think I will concentrate on developing the 4x5 Tri-x shot with the Bananarama and make a Ladyboy submission from the best of the work I am able to process before the deadline.

Who knows the VAAA might actually like to try to show something a bit different and accept the work!! hope hope!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Razzle Hall of Fame

Was visiting Dean Jones Razzle camera site today and found the Bananarama in his hall of fame section along with many other dazzling razzling cameras. The Bananarama performed wonderfully in Asia and I plan on getting 1 and possibly 2 more Razzle cameras when I can save up a bit of money.

Check out Deans hall of fame Razzles here:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Donated Work

I donated some work to help a local youth organization raise funds. Check it out here:

You can also donate funds to the center here:

Cold and Quiet

First thoughts after arrival is boy Canada is cold and quiet. The temperatures seem downright cool here after being in Thailand even thou it is the height of summer in Edmonton. The other thing that immediately struck me is that it is so quiet, no motorbikes, no jack hammers, no barking dogs or loud music, and no one yelling at me at "Come here sexy man!" The ladies in the bars yell things out when single men walk by, if your walking with a woman they say nothing but if your walking alone you always hear the calling of the girls working the bars.

I miss Thai food already, miss having a kiwi shake and fresh coconut juice/meat for 60cents, miss eating all those wonderful foods.

I could not sleep much today, was only able to manage about 4 hours in the morning then I got up and went for a bike ride. It was so quiet and relaxing to cycle through the countryside, I really, really enjoyed it. I think that we sometimes take the little pleasures like this for granted until we do not have something for awhile then you learn again to appreciate the small things like cycling while listening to birds sing.

Back In Canada

Well I am back in Canada again, after a long exhausting day of travel which included a 2 hour car ride plus around 24 hours on 3 different airplanes I am now back home typing this message on my own computer.

I managed to not get the roll film x-ray zapped for the whole trip and only allowed the 4x5 Tri-x to be zapped 3 times, which is the same as the 8x10 last year. I had no problems with last years film so am anticipating none this year.

I must now develop and print the film as time allows. I want to make up 3 submissions for gallery's

1. Bargirls
2. Sex Worker
3. Ladyboy

Exhausted, I will take a bath and sleep.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Last Meal

Had a very nice Thai meal at a local beach area here. I ate barbecued crab along with spicy papaya salad, raw oysters, spare ribs and a fried fish in a special sweet and sour sauce.

Will go for 1 more massage tonight and see a show. I also want to drop off some photographs in a gay bar area for some men I photographed last year.

Keep seeing Nit from last night in my head, she is aging fast, she looked so tired here face changes each time I photograph her. I want to come back her next year and photograph her against a white background with my 8x10 camera.

Friday, August 1, 2008

No More Film

I shot the last of my film today, all the color and b/w roll film, 425 sheets of 4x5 b/w and about 20 sheets of color 4x5 are gone!

The final totals are as follows.

I photographed 20 different ladyboys.
I also photographed 4 ladies.
I ended up reshooting 6 people from previous trips.

Overall I am happy, at this point I think I went into new areas with my work. I hope the work is good, I think it should have some impact. I hope that I can get 10 good portraits for my portfolio box set of ladyboys.

Tonight I used up the last 36 sheets of 4x5 shooting a girl named Nit. I have photographed her on 2 previous occasions in 2003 and in 2007. Nit is a sweet lady but she is getting old fast, she is only 23 now but seems much older. She has a son and has been working a shortime bar for at least 4 years. I worry for her, I hope she does not suffer the same fate as the other lady Nit I photographed in Bangkok who is now 49 and still working the sex scene.

Walking down the regular photo Soi (road) tonight after not making photographs there for 3 or 4 days was kind of fun. Many people in the shortime bars called out to me and I heard my name on 2 occasions, people were so friendly asking me to come over and talk and joke around with them. If I had more time to spend here I could establish better long term relationships. I now think that I will return next year and do more photographs with the 8x10 camera and white background studio set up. I expect to have 7 weeks to shoot in 2009 and will probably return in May to do that work. I have emails and phone numbers for most of the people I photographed and I hope to hand out some free prints and reshoot people when I return. I think Jock Sturges and Jim were right I will try to come back year after year and continue to make portraits of the same people, it is important I establish strong relationships with the people I photograph.

Time to pack and prepare for my return to Canada, am eager to develop the film and make the prints.