Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Khon Thai: Klong Toey

Am thinking of going to photograph in Bangkok's largest slum Klong Toey as part of the coming trip and the Khon Thai project.

From the web:

Klong Toey
Posted by allisonspice 2 December 2005
Klong Toey is an area of Bangkok that most tourists will never visit. It is the slums where the poorest people live. Here you will meet real Thai people, people who are dealing with the harshest aspects of life in Bangkok. They are friendly with nothing to offer but a sincere smile. They are happy to see visitors, it shows people care. A visit to Klong Toey will leave you questioning what you thought you knew about Thailand, and perhaps even about yourself and what you thought you valued.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What Is Khon Thai

Been trying to organize my thoughts on exactly what is my project "Khon Thai".

Thailand, the Thai people, being Thai, Thais role in their society, what it means to be Thai, classes, structure, richness, poverty, greed, sadness, hope, suffereing, joy, waste, anger, fun.

The humanity of the Thai people, what does it means to be Thai, the structure and the contradictions of the Thai world.

Edward Burtynsky Lecture

Went to the Edward Burtynsky lecture this afternoon at the AGA. The part that stood out most for me during the talk was how he knew exactly what he wanted to say with his photographs, he understood absolutely and completely the messages he wanted to convey. The photographs can be viewed on multiple layers, they can be interpreted on many different levels. The photographer thou had a clear understanding of what he was doing and saying and brought his craft and skills foward to communicate that message.

I need to concentrate on what I want to say with my photographs, to get a clear understanding of exactly where I am going with the work and then translate that understanding to film. I think one of the reasons I have trouble writing artist statements is because I am not 100% sure yet in my mind what my message is, Burtynsky has all of that figured out and then he goes out and fufills his vision.

Also went to take a quick peek at the show before the lecture and it was impressive, large and very large color prints that were highly detailed if a bit non photograph looking at times (not sure that matters). I will go see the show this coming week when I have more time, will probably do 5 or 6 visits before it leaves town.

Its great that the AGA is showing photographers, I hope this trend continues!! Hopefully someday Mr. Yaum will get his shot at the space.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Quote: Quinton Gordon (Photographer, Gallery Owner)

"The best photographs actually stimulate questions more than they answer them."

Some Photo Links

My favorite Canadian photogrpahy blog where most of the following links came from.

A blog that has interviews with visual artists.

Great interview with photographer who talks of the creative process.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Beginning of Khon Thai

Spent the night here at work in Canada looking at the photographs of August Sander. The image below speaks to the strength of his work as a portraitist, he would photograph people and be honest but also treated them with a dignity and respect. That's the trick isn't it, to be honest in your photographs but also treat your subject with dignity and respect.

The beginning of the khon Thai project is 2 months away. It is in one sense scary because I will be working completely by myself outside of my normal Thai comfort zone. I will be speaking a foreign language, working in a foreign country in places I have never been before, without assistants, all on my own. In another sense it is very exciting, the thought of creating new and meaning full work has been a dream of mine for years. I want these photographs to be an honest depiction of the Thai people, I want to show the good and the bad, I want to show their strengths and weaknesses their joys and sorrows and to do this with fairness and dignity.

I wish I had more time to photograph (have a bit less than 5 weeks) but in the coming years I expect I will have more time, this is just a start, a taste of what's to come. If I can keep healthy and if the photographs continue to inspire me, I could be working on the project for 20 or 30 years.

Hopefully the work can one day be put together in a book for wider distribution and also collected by museums. I want the photographs to last past my lifetime and to be a tribute to the people photographed.

Photograph by August Sander

Friday, September 10, 2010

Daily Portraits Continue

Am continuing my daily portraits to familiarize myself with the 4x5 shooting. Today my subject? Me! The hardest part was trying to focus on myself when I was not there! I am developing the film as I write this blog (got to love Jobo processors) so far the shots look OK, if a bit pretentious.

Hopefully over the coming weeks I will perfect the shooting technique and start making some meaningful photographs. I already feel quite a bit better after only about 5 days of portraits. My biggest problem seems to be finding people to make pictures of.

All In One Bag

Well I got all of my 4x5 portrait kit in 1 shoulder bag. The bag is heavy but getting everything into 1 bag allows me to be more mobile, I can travel via tuk tuk, motorcycle, bus or walk for short distances. If I can get this bag to work I can travel all over Thailand, heres hoping it all works out, might have to upgrade to some kind of trekker backpack at some point if the bag becomes to heavy.

-Wista 4x5 camera.
-Monocular hood (allows me to shoot fast with out a dark-cloth and focusing loop.
-Carbon fiber tripod with ball head.
-15 film holders, which allows for 30 exposures.
-Bellows lens-hood.
-150mm Nikon Lens.
-Sekonic manual light meter.
-Various accessories, cable releases, tape measure, flashlight, small screwdrivers.

I might be able to fit in 1 extra lens or a changing bag and box of film so I can do a film change out on the road.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Khon Thai Workout

Over the last several weeks I have been fine tuning the camera and technique I will use for the Khon Thai project. I have chosen to use a Wista 4x5 camera and Tri-x film with a 150mm lens. The photographs will be shot with a combination of flash and available light.

Am trying to do daily portrait sessions with friends and family in Canada. I need to get a rythym with this camera, I need things to flow so I can concentrate on the subject and forget about all the techno stuff, it should flow naturally and easily. The hope is that if I continue to make daily portraits I can develop the effortless shooting style I need before I return to Thailand.

I have been thinking over and over what is I want to say with these images, thats what it comes down to in the end all the camera stuff/darkroom stuff is unimportant its the final photograph that matters. The question is "Gerry what do you want these photos to say?" figure that out and you will make photographs that are worth making.

Words that come to mind when I think about what I want to say :


Quote: August Sander

Speaking of the three guiding concepts of his portraiture.

"See, observe and think correctly."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Quote: Henri Cartier-Bresson

Speaking about Edward Weston's and Ansel Adams photography during the WWII.

"The whole world is falling apart and they're photographing rocks!"

Friday, September 3, 2010

Quote: Edward Weston

Responding to objections by the directors of the Museum of Modern Art to prints showing pubic hair.

"By all means tell your board that P.H. has been definitely a part of my development as an artist, tell them it has been the most important part, that I like it brown, black, red or golden, curly or straight, all sizes and shapes."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Quote: Franz Kafka

"A book must be an ice axe, to break the sea frozen within us. If the book in our hands does not wake us, as with a fist that hammers on the skull, then it just isn't worth reading."