Friday, July 31, 2009

More 2009 White Background Sex Worker Photographs

Bla 21 Female Sex Worker, Thailand 2009

Long 27 Female Sex Worker, Thailand 2009

More Hong Kong Street Photos

Scanned a few new negs from hong kong photos from last year.

New Enlarger

Bought another Saunders LPL 4500ll enlarger. I already own and love one of these machines, this one I mounted on the wall which will allow me to make large photographs easily. I plan on using this LPL for doing all my large printing of color, b/w printing with 35mm to 4x5 neg sizes. All prints larger than 11x14 will be made on this machine. I will use my older LPL mounted on a baseboard to make smaller size photographs.

I bought the enlarger from a very nice pro photographer who was going digital. Thanks Rocco! Hopefully this machine will yield many beautiful photographs.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Quote: Stephen Wreakes Photographer

"I try to do my own work and yes, I've had influences, but this is my life and I see
what I see."

Ambition, Arrogance or Dream

These last few days have been filled with one thought, creating a body of work, an important body of work before it is to late. All my life I have dreamed of making photographs that matter, photographs that will be collected and seen and remembered. I guess it is immodest to want something like this but ever since I was a teenager it has been a secret dream of mine.

I want to make my kind of photos, photos I believe in that I feel are important, I want to make portraits of people who will be remembered in the work as well, people who otherwise might be forgotten.

I was thinking of the famous photograph by Seydou Keita of the black man holding the flower in the dapper suit. A man long since forgotten in the world he lived but because of the photograph someone who will be remembered forever.

It is important to do accomplish something with your life, for me that means creating a important body of work, but it is also important probably more so to create records of people who otherwise would live and die and be forgotten, a visual memory of their existence.

Bla Photographs

A few of the first images of Bla 21 Freelance Sex Worker.

120mm film

Shot a bit of b/w 120 film this trip, these photos are from the first 3 films developed. The photos are of Jiji 28 Ladyboy Sex Worker, Nid 50 Freelance Sex Worker and Sico 21 Freelance Sex Worker.


Lately I have been emailing and posting my images and requesting critiques of the work. Some of the comments made have been positive but much of the criticism has been negative (more negative than positive in the last while). How to deal with the negative comments?

I think it is very important to get feedback on our work and that you should listen to all the good things and bad things said. You need to take everything with a grain of salt thou and not let the positive talk get you to high and the negative stuff get you to low.

More importantly I cannot let the negatives sway me from work that I should be making in the style I should make it. It comes down to the artist and what he feels that counts the most after all, if I feel I am on the right track I need to follow my heart and go down that path regardless of what others say.

Keep an open mind and ear to the words of others but follow your own heart in the end.

I guess you have to be a bit arrogant and feel your right and their wrong : ) I need to just make my photos the way I want to make them and let the cards fall where they may, maybe the work will be collected someday maybe not, but at least I can always tell myself, I did it my way.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

2009 Sex Worker Photographs

Here are some of the first negs developed from this years Sex Worker on white background photographs.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Sigh Of Releif


Developed my first 5 sheets of 8x10 Tri-x today from the latest white background Sex Worker Series Photographs (2009). I had not used the equipment for 2 years (it was stored in Thailand), I had not shot any film at all with the 8x10 on white backgrounds. Luckily the negs look good, it seems I did all the technical things correctly. I hope to have also improved in regards to posing, composition, expression, development mistakes and stray light errors. Am also curious how the Ilford HP5 and J and C 400 film will fare (I shot all the 400 asa 8x10 film I had this trip, around 600 sheets), hopefully these new films will also lead to fine fiber photographs.

So far so good, will post some of the images when the negs dry.

Mongol Man Horse Rider : Inner Mongolia China

Toilet From Hell : China

Sunrise On The Grasslands : Inner Mongolia China

I am staying in a tourist area of Inner Mongolia about 100km by non air conditioned van North of the city of Hohhot. Last night I slept in my Mongol tent on a very hard board bed (ended up with bruises on both sides of my body after two nights sleeping).

Woke up at 5am and went for a walk on the grasslands, beautiful quiet and peaceful. Seems strange to me that in about 1 weeks time I will be on the other side of the world in Canada.

Walking these grassy fields alone at relaxed, I think back to the days of Genghis and his armies, how much different it must have been then.

Goodmorning Time To Spit : China

Not sure what the deal is but boy oh boy do Chinese people in Beijing and Hohhot love to spit! I do not know how many times (probably 50 plus) over the 11 days that I was in the country I heard the hacking, grinding, slurping sounds associated with the pre-spit moment, followed by the wonderful sound of release and impact. I would wake up in the early morning to the sound of these creative moments, often at 4am or 5am. Spitting seemed common amongst both men and women, indoors, outdoors it made no difference.

I was told the reason it was done was to clean out the mouth but damn!! what a disgusting habit.

You got to love going to a nice restaurant and seeing the NO SPITTING signs, nothing makes food more appetizing.

Goat Butcher : Inner Mongolia China

Chinese Tv Informercials

Opened up the TV in Beijing, got 40 plus channels of Chinese talk, with one channel in English, the subject? China 24/7.

No CNN, no BBC not even Fox!

There was some strange programing, the ones that stood out for me were the infomercials selling Mao products. There was one selling Mao gold coins and another selling a set of Mao stamps. On the coins and on the stamps you had all the heroic imagery you could imagine. Mao as a young buck, Mao as a middle aged guy, Mao as president, Mao as a great General, all noble looking reproductions. Guess the cult of Mao is still followed by some folks in China.

This guy was responsible for millions of Chinese deaths, has that been ignored? forgotten?

Man Begging For Food : Beijing China

Tiananmen Square: Beijing

Security, security, security. X-ray machines, police everywhere, police vans cars etc. If I had held up a sign at Tiananmen saying Free Tibet, I would have been arrested inside of 30 seconds. On the light posts in the square there were 3 cameras per post, all pointing in different directions.

Saw the lowering of the national flag, lots of soldiers looking official. Within minutes of the flag coming down, police directed people off the square with angry yells and gestures. I would not like to get these guys pissed off! Smiled at one of the police, he did not smile back!

Barber Shop Chess : Cambodia

Language School : Cambodia

Was walking down the street near the border when I passed a English language school. The owner of the school called me over, introduced himself and asked me to teach the class for 1 hour. I guess native language English speakers are rare and it is fun and important for the students to speak with people beside their teachers.

I accepted his invitation and spoke to the class for over one hour. The class was loads of fun and included much laughter and joking. I really enjoyed my time teaching and answering and encouraging questions.

At the end of the class Sam (the Korean owner/teacher) asked me to return in the future as a volunteer, he said he would give me free room and board. Got Sam's email for a possible return, another option for my future.

Temple Monks : Cambodia

Motorcyle Driver : Cambodia

Took a tour of the town of Poi pet with a local motorcycle driver named N. N followed me 3 separate times over 2 days from the border, he waited for me each time. N spoke Thai so that is the language we communicated in, a farang speaking poor Thai with a Cambodian who spoke better, worked fine thou!

N had 2 children and a wife, they lived in a $500 baht a month apartment (about $18 CAD). A nice gentle polite man who was just trying to make a living and support his family. We visited 2 temples and did a slow tour of the streets. I gave him more money that we agreed on and thanked him for his time. Got his phone number in the future if I return I want to contact him again, would love to meet his family and learn more about his life.

Casino Rich Versus Poor : Cambodia

Was on the Thai/Cambodian border at a small town called Poi Pet. Poi Pet is a casino town where rich Thais are able to step across the border and gamble at will. Gambling is illegal in Thailand so there are numerous casinos along the borders with Thailand in Cambodia and Burma, this allows corrupt officials to bend the law. I guess the casino I stayed at was owned by a particularly nasty corrupt Thai official.

The way they have it set up is you go out of Thai immigration/border but do not have to go into Cambodia past there immigration (which requires a visa0. All the casinos are located in the zone between the two countries border checkpoints.

If you go through to the Cambodian side you have dire poverty but on the other side of the Cambodian border building you have these big lavish casinos. Rich and Poor in stark contrast.

In the morning you have hundreds of Cambodians who pull and push big carts of merchandise over the border (to avoid the taxes and laws regarding vehicle transport over the border). In the evening these same people bring back their empty carts. Many of the people crossing the border hauling cars are victims of landmines (the use hand propulsion carts) or youngish children working alone or with their parents.

My life in Canada is so easy compared to the lives of these people, no more whining Gerry.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chicken Foot Email

When I could not access in China I sent out some emails to friends, will post some of these messages on the blog now that I am back in Canada and have access to the site again.


Chicken Foot

Usually on these trips there are few moments that stick with you, moments that you keep in your memory long after the trip is done. Recently I had a few of these special moments that I will remember for years to come.

I took the tour to the grassland area of inner Mongolia. The grasslands is a traditional area where the Mongol people live. In the old days they used to live on these prairie type lands (grasslands) in their traditional tents with their horses, I believe they also were herdsmen and kept sheep and cattle.

The place I went was a tourist area (disappointing) populated by mostly Chinese tourists with a few Western tourist thrown into the mix. My tent (luxury tent) included its only flush sitting toilet, shower and tv along with a HARD bed (basically you slept on plywood with a very thin cushion). The food was very basic, mostly vegetable dishes thou I did eat a bit of lamb/sheep. Overall the tour was a disappointment, our group also went to a desert area where I rode a camel. I stayed 2 nights in the grassland area and a few hours in the desert area, the mini van trip was exhausting, no air-conditioning very dusty, noisy with poor service from the Chinese tour company. The tourists whined and complained the whole time, many angry people on that van and was stuck in it for about 11 hours.

The highlight moment for me thou was separate from the tourist stuff. I knew that I had 2 nights in the grasslands to make photos. I decided that the best way to get anything near an authentic experience was to hang with the locals. Up the hill from our tented area (the tourists stayed in their tents and in the restaurant/store nearby) was a small tent the Mongol locals used during the day, they also kept all their horses up there (about 30 animals). Everyday the Mongol men who stayed up in the small tent would have shows (the tourists would walk up to see the show then walk down again immediately afterwards)they would have a horse racing show, a Mongol wrestling show, and a grab things off the ground while at full gallop show (they could pickup money bills or scarf's etc off the ground as they galloped by on their horses, at full gallop they would hang off the side of the horse and grab the items, dust flying). I wanted to meet the locals so after the shows I would just hang around and try to make friends. Eventually we sort of would sit around trying to talk (they spoke Manderin and Mongolian, I spoke English only). A few of the Mongol men riders could speak a bit of English, their was also a 22 year old Chinese woman named Youfen visiting her Mongolian boyfriend she could speak English quite well so she translated for me (she told me "YOUR VERY HANDSOME", I think she was looking for a Canadian husband, the boyfriend kept making faces in my direction when I talked to her).

The first day there I sort of just talked a bit and made a few photos, we sat around for a few hours and that was it. The second day when I returned one of the Mongol men riders said hello to me (Buhe 22 years old, he started riding a horse at 5 years old) and access to photos was much better. Most of the people there knew me, both the younger Mongolian horse riders and the older men who ran the show. I got lots of smile lots of nods of hello from everyone, it was a friendly atmosphere.

When I arrived the second day they were all in the tent (it was hot and the tent offered shade from the sun), but within a minute of so of my sitting outside (they had single bricks on the ground to sit on) I was surrounded by 4 of the younger Mongol male riders I had met the day before. In our little circle was BuHe 22, SuHe 25, Ji Choo 17 and Danghai zi 17 along with the woman YouFen. It was lots of fun sitting and talking, I offered Ji Choo some oreo cookies I had (he was a very strong looking Mongolian, always joking around and very interested in me, he kept touching my arm and looking at my skin, he would also like to joke with me and we would poke each other in the ribs). Even thou these people were extremely poor (they wore the same exact dirty clothes both days) they were also generous to me. I was offered beer and cigarettes (2 times), I was also offered some food. The first item offered me was a vacuum packed green package with a light skin meaty colored item inside, I was told it was spicy. I took the package and said thank you. Upon opening the package I found that I had been given a chicken foot to eat!! The foot looked boiled and was surrounded with mushy peppers and came complete with sharp claws/nails.

As a side note, I have a history with the whole chicken foot thingy, my mom and dad have been eating these things for my whole life, I have always said no to eating them, in my personal relationships over the last 20 years I have also been offered the chance of eating chicken feet countless times I have always said no no no.

So there I am sitting on the ground outside the Mongol tent, I have 4 men and lady munching down on their chicken feet, I think...hmm what to do? Being offered food and refusing it is rude, also these people are poor and still they offer this small gift of a local treat to the rich (at least compared to them) foreigner they have known for only 2 days. I thought what the heck and ate the foot! it was rather good actually, spicy but kind of tasty in an odd sort of way (you spit out the bones on the ground). That moment we were eating our feet is one moment I will remember in the future it seemed sort of surreal, here I was in inner Monglia eating a chicken foot with my new Mongolian horse rider friends and in 6 days I would be back in Canada working, surrounded by everything Canada.

The second came a few hours later. The men had done their second show of the evening, the tourists had left, I was hanging around while the Mongol men riders rode about on their horses gathering up the herd (of horses), they turned them towards me and road into the sunset, galloping horses(sort of a scene out of the old west) as they left they road near me and yelled out "BYE BYE" with smiles on their faces 3 different men (BuHe, SuHe and Danghai Zi) all made a special effort to say goodbye (I had told them earlier I was leaving the next day). To see those men on their horses was quite beautiful, the obvious joy they had in riding was invigorating, I wish I could ride with them and ride as well, it was like they were one with the animal, the horse and the man were one body, the horse their own legs.

I will remember the chicken foot moment and the riding into the sunset time bye bye moment for years to come. I hope in the future to return and spend a longer time with these men or with others in Mongolia. Their lives were simple and repetitive but there is also a certain joy and pleasure in living that they have that often is forgotten in the West. They would drink and smoke and wrestle with each other just for the fun of it, then they would jump on their horses and smiles would cross their faces. A beautiful people, I want to learn and experience more.


Chicken foot follow up:

I have now entered the world of the chicken foot! All the people that tried to get me to eat the darn things in the past have read this email and are now happily ordering chicken feet for me now at restaurants, am sure in the not to distant future I will be eating home cooked boiled feet with mom and dad also.

I have entered the world of the foot and cannot escape!

Back In Canada

Well back in Canada again after a 7 week trip to Asia. I spent about 5 weeks in Thailand, 2 days in Cambodia and 11 days in China. My blog entries fell behind because I did not have computer access in Cambodia and in China is banned along with many other sites (youtube, myspace, facebook, twitter). Over the coming weeks I will enter blogs from Cambodia and China that I could not upload before.

Nice to be home, feels quiet here after all the noise and chaos of Asia, feels like I have time to think now. I have 7 boxes of 8x10 film (600 + sheets of film) as well as 3 big bags of 120 film and some 35 film to develop. I want to try to develop and scan as much of the film as I can over the coming weeks so I can make submissions to various galleries.