Wednesday, August 31, 2011

3 Hours Sleep But Feel Good

The plumbers came in to the house/darkroom today and did their thing. I ended up only getting 3 hours sleep before my night shift but I feel surprisingly good. The bill was also less than I was worried about $750, next time Gerry call the plumber and do not try to be a hero. The swelling in the knee is better so hopefully it will be ok by the time I fly next week.

Now the trick is to make good portraits, portraits with some meaning. I need to get to that next level in the portraiture, if I can get to that level I can make something compelling which is something I have always searched for and what I owe my subjects.

I want the truth of the people I photograph (or at least my perception of the truth) to ooze out of the image, the portraits must connect with the viewer so that it is impossible for them to pull away their gaze, they must just keep looking and looking and looking.

The names or nicknames of the people are important also, as Eleanor Lazare says it adds an extra level of humanity.

More Students Coming!

There will be two groups of students coming to view the "Fading Lives" show. On October 3rd Larry, Jonathan, myself along with Sima Khorrami a wonderful photographer and teacher with continuing education will be hosting a little get together at the gallery, to talk about the work and answer any questions.

Today I found out that Eleanor Lazare an Instructor of Art and Design in the Fine Arts department of the UofA will  bring in a group of her students later this month as well. Eleanor plans on giving the UofA students an assignment on the show that will be graded.

I would love to read the students take on the work.

This is all personally rewarding. I have to give Larry lots of credit, he decided he wanted to build a gallery to promote photography in Edmonton and that's exactly whats happened. Because of Larry's love of photography Edmonton has benefited. This is the just the start, but its a wonderful beginning to really pushing photography (especially humanitary photography) in the city.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Alberta Photo Open, Opening Night Link

A nice link to some photos of the Alberta Photographhy Open, opening night.

Quote: Jack Layton (Leader Of The New Democratic Party of Canada)

This quote is from the last paragraph of Jack Layton's farewell letter to the people of Canada (written days before he died of cancer).

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hope To Make Some Portraits Here

Founds this video online today, am doing some research on Muay Thai boxing. I hope to go to this place in Klong Toey and do some portraits of the trainers and fighters.

Muay Thai Gym Klong Toey Slum

Calgary Jubilee And 20 Meals.

Two bonuses from getting 3rd place prize I got with the monk "Peoples Project" headshot.

1- the photo will hang in the Calgary version of the Jubilee Auditorium (not sure for how long).
2- I got a $100 check, which should translate into about 20 -$5 (150 baht) Thai meals.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nice VAAA Link

Got a nice mention plus links to this blog (not working) and to the Larry Louie Photography Gallery show on the Visual Arts Alberta (VAAA) blog today.  Thank you very much Visual Arts Alberta.

Called In Help

Well, spent the last 5 days floundering around in my darkroom trying to fix the leak problem I had. I ended up buggering up my knee and burning myself numerous times. Today I gave it up and called in the plumbing people, will cost extra but at least I can stop this suffering, boy am I a shitty plumber! I admire trades people who have the skills to do this kind of work. Meeting people in strange countries and making photographs, or being in dangerous situations and making photographs seems so much easier than soldering a copper pipe with water in the line!!

I will be without my darkroom till at least Tuesday maybe longer. This has put a real dent in my ability to make some prints for the klong toey people. I have to work all next week 12 hour shifts, the darkroom is down for the next 4 days or so, when can I print? I also wanted to do more testing with zone metering portraiture. I will have to shoot the film the next 2 days then develop them when the darkroom is up and running, after my nightshifts.  Got to go put some ice on my knee. Next time! Call the plumber straight off!

I hope the knee is not an issue in Thai, I already have to carry lots of gear around in the blazing heat, leg problems are not needed. Hopefully I will get into a zone when there and can work through this. The photos are what matters, I have to work through any physical ailments.

Suffering to make photos is great, suffering to fix a water leak sucks!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Importance Of Names

Talked to the judge at last nights photo open competition (Eleanor Lazare), she spoke to me about the need to humanize my portraits with the inclusion of a name. I think she is right, I do need to do that. We talked a bit about the great photog Fazal Sheikh and his use of names along with his portraits.

I have to make an effort to get the the name (or nickname) of all the people I photograph for the "Peoples Project" I am not sure how to coordinate that exactly. How do I get the face and names right and not all mixed up with the hundreds of subjects I plan to work with?

Maybe I need to take a small digital camera, take the persons photo with that as well, then write there name on a piece of paper and photograph that afterwords. If I do that I can connect the face and name years later when I might be printing the negatives from the shoot.

Buggered My Knee!

Trying to save money I spent the last week or so on my knees working on a darkroom water pipe leak. I thought it would be an easy job but I am not much of a plumber. My left knee has swollen up and is all puffy, red and extremely hot (like its on fire!). Been icing the knee and things seem to be slowly improving. I got most of the leak problem under control but still have more to do after I write this blog.

Sometimes trying to save money by doing it yourself can lead to bigger problems. I wanted to save money for the coming Thai trip so did not call in a plumber. Hopefully the knee problem will be gone by the time I fly next month, and I will also have taken care of the dripping under my darkroom sink.

Really need to bare down and make some quality portraits this trip. I feel this project is so much bigger than me, feel I have an obligation to live up to.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Alberta Photo Open, Opening Night

Went to the opening tonight, it was nice with maybe 200 people in the gallery. A nice night, met lots of important people.

- One the people who works for the "Foundation For The Arts" who part of the jury that chose my monk photograph.
- The President of the board at the VAAA.
- The Executive Director  of the VAAA.
- Other VAAA people.
- Lots of cool photographers.

It was nice to meet everyone and talk art, photography with them. Mom and Dad also had a nice time (Dad drank 2 beers!), it was nice to get them out having a good time with us.

I also got a 3rd place with my monk headshot which got me a $100 prize. I can really use that money as my budget for the next 3 week Thai trip is only $1200, now I have $1300! I will have just over $400 a week to spend, so I need to be-careful and eat cheaply, not waste money, taking buses as much as possible instead of taxis etc.

This opening like the one at the Larry Louie gallery in July was quite strange, people you do not know come up to you,  introduce themselves, compliment your work and shake your hand, Its a nice feeling.
I have been in photographic obscurity for so long to have work on two gallery walls at the same time and have strangers complimenting you is a bit of a weird experience, a nice experience but definitely not something I am used to.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Quote: Mark Johnstone (Writer)

Quotes from an essay on the photographer Larry Burrows.

"It was his job as a photojournalist to find those physical details and actions that revealed the inner meaning of events."

"A photograph has value as a document if it tells something of the place or person or event that is pictured. Its importance and significance are further enhanced if it reveals something about what is pictures, and something more about the photographer......the best photographs always have values we can admire from which we can learn something indescribable that may shape our lives.

Art Of Photography Youtube Series

Found a wonderful series of youtube vids dealing with photography, many topics, and fun all around.

The art of photography, on youtube.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Family Slum Portraits?

Been reading a book of essays on Paul Strand. One of the most famous photographs ever taken is Strand's photograph of the Italian family (posed shot by Strand).  I would like to try some family portraits in Klong Toey in September, working with that many people would be a challenge but could lead to a strong image. If Strand can do it without speaking Italian I should be able to work with a Thai family on a portrait.
Here is Strand's wonderful photo:

The Family Luzzara Italy 1953, Paul Strand

Quote: Paul Strand

"The artist is one who makes a concentrated statement about the world in which he lives and that statement tends to become impersonal-it tends to become universal and enduring because it comes out of something very particular."

VAAA Group Show Postponed

Well, got some good news today (I guess its good news). The October VAAA group show has been postponed. I had a choice of putting it off till February or April. I might be in Thailand in February so I postponed that show opening until April 19, 2012.

With the September trip to Thailand quickly approaching this allows me more time, much more! I can make a print here and there over the next 8 months. I also can order more mat and foam core board and get my frames out of the "Fading Lives" show, to use in this April group show.

I think most importantly it gives me a chance to slow down and breath a bit, I feel like I have been burning myself out lately. I would not mind a week of just hanging around the house and making some 4x5 tests/portraits. I do not have to worry about deadlines for a while now. Thank goodness!

I wanted to start a portrait series on my father this week, called "Dad At 80", need to start working on that and also do testing on the zone metering for portraiture I plan to use in Klong Toey in September. I will also have more time to print up some photos I can give to the people I photographed last trip in the slum.

Feel like a bit of burden has been lifted off me, I can now slow down and concentrate on the pictures I will make in September and November in Thailand. If I can I also want to take a third trip to Thailand/Cambodia in February/March of next year. After these 3 trips it will be a long time coming back to make photos, it will be only working in Canada and paying off debts. I need to really do some strong photography while I have a chance, I need to really push the envelope and create dozens of "Peoples Project" portraits. If I can create a large number of portraits it will help me get through the year or so I will be trapped back in Canada working to pay off trips, film etc.

Cannot wait to be making photos, to be back in Thailand, finding and photographing people again, nothing better than that!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Alberta Photo Open Promotion Link And Info

Artrubicon Art Blog

Visual Arts Alberta & the JUBE present OPEN PHOTO, opens Aug 25 in Edmonton at Kaasa Gallery

Posted on August 16, 2011 in Central Alta Exhibitions, EVENTS, Opening Receptions, Openings
Northern Jubilee Auditorium: August 25 to October 2, 2011
Southern Jubilee Auditorium: October 11 – TBA
Opening Reception in Edmonton: Thursday, August 25 6 to 8 pm, Kaasa Gallery

Held off-site at the Kaasa Gallery in The Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton, Visual Arts Alberta is pleased to present the VAAA 4th annual photography competition & exhibition. OPEN PHOTO 2011 exhibits some of Alberta’s finest photographers. Visual Arts Alberta received an overwhelmingly positive response to this open call and all applications went through a selective jurying process. Our guest juror Eleanor Lazare will choose the best over-all photographer, as well as honorable mentions, prior to the opening reception. Awards will be announced at the opening reception, and the award winning work will go on to be exhibited in Calgary at The Southern Jubilee Auditorium October 2011.

OPEN PHOTO 2011 will open at the Kassa Gallery at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium on the evening of August 25th, 2011. 38 artists with 57 pieces will be featured in this competition and exhibition. Artists include: David Belcher, Patrick Clarke, Gordon Dinwoodie, Darryl Reid, James Gaa, Zbigniew Gortel , Ron Kenworthy, Robert Michiel, Anne Marie Resta, Ron Robinson, Joel Koop, Akemi Matsubuchi, Clive Figuelredo, Ian Jackson, Rene Rodrique, Robert Goerzen, Gerry Yaum, David Bowering, Tracy Somerville, Gerry Dotto, Dawn LeBlanc, Sky McLaughlin, Christopher L. Kingston, Alexis Marie Chute, Stephen Wreakes, Hugo Leung, Rae Emogene, Kathy Ingram, Adrian Thysse, Gabor Fur, Dave Jackson, Corey Hochachka, Jennie Delaney, Robert Royer, Mark Freeman, Dwayne Martineau, Mark Vitaris and Lee Kiwook.

Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
11455 – 87 Avenue, Edmonton
During performance times contact: 780-427-5057
M-F 9:00am – 4:30pm

Old Memory

I was sitting in the car today just before coming into work and I had a memory flashback. Last year in Klong Toey Slum I was walking around and photographing in a congested slum shack area. I saw a young boy practising his writing with a small white board and pen, he was sitting on the floor of his slum shack in the doorway. I sat down beside him and looked at his letters and started to talk to him. His mother was next to him, a young girl, quite pretty who seemed a bit stand offish, a bit unfriendly. I stayed a few minutes and talked to the boy, I even took the white board and showed him some English letters as well as writing a bit of Thai for him so he could understand the connection.

There was no outright anger by the boys mother but sort of a resentment, a feeling I did not get with others I met at Klong Toey. At the time I was wondering why? I had a theory back then and it flashed back today, Many of the beautiful women of Klong Toey work in a Western bar area of Bangkok called Soi Cowboy. The Soi Cowboy area is filled with Western sex tourists. My theory is this girl worked in that area and had built up a resentment towards farang men during that time. Cowboy is filled with ugliness, I have seen that same sort of  anti farang male resentment in other sex tourism areas of Thailand. All Western (farang) males can often be painted with the same brush by the workers.

Today I was thinking, would it not be a good idea to do a photo story on the life of someone who works Soi Cowboy and also lives in Klong Toey? The contrasts of that type of life, poverty and the love of family alongside the sleaziness of Cowboy. Most Western sex tourists have no idea of the true reality of the girls who work the bars of cowboy. To make photographs that show the contrasts of that life might make for some powerful work.

Quote: J.K. Rowling's

"While we may come from different places and speak in different tongues, our hearts beat as one."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Submitting Sex Worker Photographs to 4 Canadian Museums

Submitting work to Canadian museums for the first time. Making up 4 submissions of the white background Sex Worker photographs to:

- The Alberta Gallery of Art (AGA - Edmonton)
- Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH)
- Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG)
- Southern  Alberta Art Gallery (SAAG - Lethbridge)

Not sure anything will come of this but its a nice feeling knowing your work is out there being considered, hopefully one of these Canadian museums will want to show the photographs. At worst I will be rejected which will inspire me to work harder.

I should be able to get these done by the end of this week and send them out next week.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Possible Thai Subjects

Made up a list tonight at work of possible Thai "People Project" subjects. Hopefully can shoot some of these portraits in September with the 4x5.

- Tuk Tuk drivers (with their Tuk Tuks)
- Muay Thai boxers (with gloves and boxing shorts)
- Klong Toey slum children
- Street food vender's (with food, cooking implements)
- Security guards (uniforms)
- Thai families in front of their homes (Strand's Italian family)

Quote: Walker Evans

"It' as though there's a wonderful secret in a certain place and I can capture it. Only I, at this moment, can capture it, and only this moment and only me."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Zone Meter Test

Using a spot meter to do portraiture is different for me, I have been doing some tests to make sure I get adequate exposure for my upcoming Thai series.

I placed the hair on Zone 3, the face fell a bit high on Zone 7. I might try next time placing the black hair on Zone 2 1/2 or even 2.

Jobo tank 11 minute development of Tri-x (200 ASA) at 24 Celsius. Linhof 2000 4x5 with 150mm F 5.6 Nikon Lens.

Lisa August 2011

Simplifying My Shooting

This coming 3 week trip to Thailand I plan on simplifying my shooting. In the past I would take tons of equipment and try to do a variety of things (usually not very well). This trip I am going to limit myself to 2 cameras and 2 lens.

Lecia M6 with 28mm F2
Linhof 4x5 with a Nikon 150mm F5.6

Both Larry Louie and Jock Sturges use one camera and one lens, since it works so well for them I can certainly give it a try!

I will shoot Tri-x with both cameras. The hope is that by limiting my tools I can make better photographs. I want to let the tech side just flow naturally and to do that I need to limit the lens/camera/film combinations. If I can continue doing this for an extended period of time these 2 camera set up combinations should allow me to work without thinking tech stuff.

I hope this will lead to more interaction with my subject and a better understanding of who they are and will allow more concentration on what really maters, THE PICTURE!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Deaf Lady Portrait On Daily Visuals Blog

Guess it is my turn to today to have one of the open photos shown on the daily visuals blog. Not sure what a traditional photograph is, my mistake, I guess I should have just listed it as a silver gelatin print.

This photograph is one of the early "Peoples Project" images, I shot 2 photos of her (one with eyes down). The strange part of this photo session is I talked to this lady for like 15 minutes as I set up and shot 2 pics of her and 2 of her home. I was yapping a way in Thai but she was not talking back, eventually she held a finger up to her ear and shook her head (telling me she was deaf). Gerry gabbing for 15 minutes before he realizes his subject is deaf! Quick boy, thats me! She was a nice polite lady with sad eyes, I wonder if she could lip read my broken Thai? I wonder what the story of her life is? Born deaf? Did she marry? have children? I would like to go back to her home and give her this portrait if possible.

Here is the link:

Deaf Lady Peoples Portrait, Daily Visuals Blog Visual Alberta Arts

More Submissions Contemplated

I want to make submissions to 3 museums in Canada, Edmonton (AGA), Winnipeg and Hamilton. Getting my work into a cities museum is a long shot at best but I need to try, I have a new found confidence lately. I was thinking of doing 2 submissions per facility, one of white background sex workers, and one of ring flash Blad color heads of sex workers. Moving up from a gallery to a museum is a huge step,  the subject matter might be to controversial also, but its important to get the work seen, it is important to tell the story of my subjects, so I'm going to try.

After this years 2 trips to Thailand and a trip early next year, I should be able to start submitting my "Peoples Project" photographs.

Heres hoping, no loss in trying, if the reject me that will put a bigger burr under my saddle which will push me harder to create new work, if they accept me then the current work gets shown, sort of a win win.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lost Film

Found a lost 35mm Leica film from the Klong Toey series, developed the negs, here are some scans. I think I might print the vertical of the Buddhist Man if I my one man submission to the Kaasa Gallery is successful. I have fallen in love with the Leica M6, 28mm f2 and Tri-x. I hope to shoot another 50+ rolls in the coming 3 week trip. Sturges was right limiting yourself to one camera and one lens simplifies things, you can just concentrate on your subject instead of thinking of all the camera-lens combinations.

A lot of what makes a powerful photograph is knowing what you want and using simple tools to achieve that goal.

Buddhist Man, Klong Toey Slum Bangkok 2010 #1

Buddhist Man, Klong Toey Slum Bangkok 2010 #2

Buddhist Man, Klong Toey Slum Bangkok 2010 #4

Buddhist Man, Klong Toey Slum Bangkok 2010 #5

Buddhist Man, Klong Toey Slum Bangkok 2010 #6

Old Lady and Her Son, Klong Toey Slum Bangkok 2010

Visual Arts Alberta Daily Visual Blog

A new site from the Visual Arts Alberta Association (VAAA). They have several of the open photos online already.

Visual Arts Alberta Daily Visuals Blog

Latest Artist Statement

Got asked again for an Artist Statement. I guess they are going to do up a little booklet for people to read if they are interested in any of the photographs. The booklet will include the artist statement and website info of each photographer, a good idea. They are really going all out for this open, seems the pictures are also getting better each year (more portraits!).

Here is my latest artist statement effort, a combination of past stuff and a bit of editing to simplify. I hate writing these things, but by forcing myself to go through the process it might be helping me focus on exactly what I am trying to do. Maybe these statements have some value after all, if they help me make more focused complete photographs then they are well worth the effort.

Artist Statement.

Series: The Peoples Project, Thailand/Cambodia 2010

The “Peoples Project” is a new series of photographs I have recently started to work on. The hope is to do hundreds of portraits on both sides of the Thailand-Cambodia border. The Khmer (Cambodian) and Thai peoples have a long history of animosity and violence. I want to show the common traits the people of these two countries share, and by extension show how all human beings are connected.

I was lucky enough to have the first photograph from this series “Young Monk, Chiang Khong Thailand” purchased by the Alberta Government through their Arts by Acquisition program, it was added to their permanent collection. The boy novice monk in the photograph is following a tradition most Thai boys undergo. A Thai male usually becomes a Buddhist monk at least one time in his life. He might only be a monk for a short period of time or it might last several years, either way it is an important foundation for his future life and something his family will be very proud of.

In my portraiture I try to show the commonality in all of us, how we as human beings have a common connected humanity no matter our race, religion or culture.

My influences include the great documentary/concerned photographers W. Eugene Smith, Donald McCullin and Sebastiao Salgado. 

I work only with film cameras and process all the film and prints myself in a traditional wet darkroom.

Final Version Of Alberta Photography Open Poster

Got the final version of the Open Photo poster sent to me, some small changes. They added credits for the photos and gallery hours, a very nicely designed poster. Got the monk photo of mine in the enlarger right now and will go down an print it after entering this blog.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Quote: Lucian Freud (Realist Portrait Painter)

"The task of the artist is to make the human being uncomfortable."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Video: Fading Lives Opening

Here is a short 5 minute video I made up of the opening night. This is my first try at shooting and editing a video, it was fun but I have lots to learn.

Fading Lives Exhibition Opening Night

"Peoples Project" Continues

Well I will be back in Thailand in September working on my "Peoples Project". This trip is only going to last 3 weeks so I am not sure how much work I can accomplish, it is shorter by 2 weeks than any other trip I have taken to Asia.

I do want to try to photograph two subjects. I want to do a series of 4x5 head shot portraits of people in Klong Toey slum and also do a series of portraits on Muay Thai boxers. Not sure if I can find the boxers but another photographer I met online recently Lung Liu photographed in the Muay Thai gyms near Klong Toey, I hope to follow in his footsteps. I need to find the gyms, introduce myself, make some friends, learn about the life they lead, and then hopefully make some meaningfull portraits. Later on I will return with large prints to give as gifts to the people who pose.

Am very excited at the chance to finally get out and make photographs again. I think this will be the first trip to Thailand where I will do absolutely no new sex worker portraits, maybe I can continue that work at a later date. I have always been fascinated by Muay Thai and the discipline and hard work it requires. Ever since my last trip to Klong Toey I have wanted to return and do portraits of the people there with my 4x5, now that will happen!  Ain't Photography Grand!

From the Book : The Teaching of Buddha

                                                             THE MIDDLE WAY

To those who choose the path that leads to Enlightenment, there are two extremes that should be carefully avoided. First, there is the extreme of indulgence in the desires of the body. Second, there is the opposite extreme that comes naturally to one who wants to renounce this life and to go to an extreme of ascetic discipline and to torture one's body and mind unreasonably.

The Noble Path, that transcend these two extremes and leads to Enlightenment and wisdom and peace of mind, may be called the Middle Way. What is the Middle Way? It consists of the Eight fold Noble Path: right view, right thought, right speech, right behaviour, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Quote: Deion Sanders

"If your dream ain't bigger than you, there's a problem with your dream."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Editing A Short Video

Am working on a short video of the opening night. Its fun to play with the software, putting in titles, dissolves, a short soundtrack along with still and video footage. I am still learning the basic iMovie software. Later on I want to graduate to Final Cut Pro which is a professional level editing system that allows much more control.

I always wanted to do a documentary film, maybe this is the first step down a long road to creating such a film.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Louie Photography Gallery Website

Here is a link to the wonderful new website designed by Joanna for the Larry Louie photography gallery.