Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wonderful Ansel Adams Documentary

Found this wonderful Ansel Adams documentary from the American experience series. The doc is illuminating and honest, loved it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Quotes: John Sexton

"Since 1988 I have processed my negatives in a Jobo rotary processor. Using Jobo Expert film drums, I have achieved optimal repeatability and evenness of development."

"Since their introduction. I have exclusively used Kodak T-Max films, primarily T-Max 100, and when additional speed is needed, T-Max 400.....Prior to the introduction of T-Max, I worked almost exclusively with Kodak Tri-X".

"For seven years, from 1973 and 1980, I only owned one lens. That was, as I like to say, the best decision I ever made."

Friday, April 27, 2012

VAAA: Daily Visuals #1

Photo of Aek from the "Human Voices " show in the VAAA daily visuals blog.

Life Is Beautiful

In the future I want to try and photograph, print and post more pics showing the beauty of nature. I have always photographed the natural landscape (rather poorly) but now I want to start to make more of an effort to improve in this style of photography. Sometimes I feel like I need to balance out some of the bleaker places I make pictures in with places of natural beauty, its good for the soul, it rejuvenates the spirit.

Some beauty shots from last trip:

Flowering Tree Golden Triangle, Thailand 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Quote: Clint Eastwood

"You take the work seriously but you don't take yourself seriously and if you keep that in mind you'll do well the rest of your life."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Northern Landscape?

Been looking at the vids of Clyde Butcher in the swamps of Florida and reading about Ansel Adams work in Alaska. It makes me think that I might be missing out on something. I am a Canadian and northern Canada is filled with amazing landscapes maybe I should be committing some of my time to recording my home country. The weather problems, distances and costs involved might be difficult to overcome but heck if it was easy would it be worth doing?

Gerry Yaum northern Canadian landscape photographer? Something to think about further.

Mount Thor Auyuittuq National Park Baffin Island Canada

Clyde Butcher Photographer

You got to admire a hardworking devoted photographer and modest guy to boot like Clyde Butcher, check out those print trays!

Monday, April 23, 2012

"Common Lives" Photos From November

Here are the first photos shot for "Common Lives" from November. Some photos were made with direct flash some with available light.

4x5 Ladyboy Heads

Started developing the film from last trip tonight. Now that the VAAA show work is done I can concentrate on film development. I did a series of white background 4x5 head shots with the ladyboy sex workers in February, here are some scans from some of the first developed sheets of that film.

Scanning 35mm Leica Again

Am scanning some of the film from earlier this year I never got around to working on before. These shots are from the November trip to Thailand and Cambodia, shot with Leica rangefinders, Tri-x/D-76.

The Never Ending Search

I started using only one film and one developer for my important photography a few years back that film is Kodak Tri-x, the developer is D-76. I feel that if you use one film and developer combination you learn that film, you learn to read it in all lighting conditions. The film becomes part of who you are, you understand how to use it in all types of situations, all types of light, you control it like its a piece of you, you truly understand how to communicate with the tools your using.

The opposite situation occurs when you use multiple film and developer combinations. Many photographers spend years spreading themselves to thin and trying continuous never ending variations of film and developers. They end up learning 1/8 or 1/4 of all the variations, because there is just to much to learn, maybe with years of effort they could learn 2 films in a lifetime but 5 or 6? No way! They end up testing and testing and testing (in the darkroom, in the field) and learning a bit of this and a bit of that.

I have heard this rational for doing the multiple film and developer thing, they say that each film and developer does different things better so if you switch all the time it makes for better photographs (in some way, different light, different tones etc). I think this might be partially true but photography is about the photographer, he or she can make GREAT photographs with pretty much any decent film, the trick is to "know your film"!  When you know your film/developer you can use it to make great photos in any conditions, you do not need the multiple film crutch. No film or developer combination is better than the one you truly understand!

Learn your camera, learn your film, learn your developer. 1 camera, 1 lens, 1 film, 1 developer. If more people did less of the the cameras, films, developers thing and instead just made photos and learned how to use a single set of tools 100% instead of 10 sets of tools 10% then they would all make better photographs. Less toys more photography!

I cannot eliminate all my cameras just yet but I am learning my film and developer, 1 of each for me! Will keep on shooting Tri-x and using D-76 as long as it is available.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Darkroom Photos

A few shots of my very crowded darkroom, I need to clean out some of the stuff I do not use often so I have more working room.

Jobo, spray gun, washers and Gauguin panting. 
Part of my tray sink, I can fit 4 20x24 in trays in this sink. 
Saunders LPL 4x5 enlarger, film drying cabinet.
Second used LPL 4x5 enlarger this one mounted to the wall for making larger prints.

8x10 enlarger, safelight style TV and fish tank.

Van Gogh's "Starry Night" 4x5 Condenser enlarger, tv and dvd player

Light table and fish tank.
8x10 Durst enlarger with color head, photo paper, chemistry and Mr. Van Gogh

Video: Nordegg Day Trip

Abandoned coal mining buildings Nordegg, Alberta.

Rob singing a tune as he makes a photo.

Nordegg Day Trip With Monoguild Photo Club Boys

A few digi shots from the day in Nordegg at their old coal mining facility. 

Rob With his new dark cloth hat.

Did not photograph this cemetery fence with the 4x5 but plan on returning and working with it next trip.

Photo Club Turnout To The Opening

I belong to two clubs of photographers and one meet up group. The club members number approximately 25-30 people, I have known these folks for upwards of 10 years, some as long as 20-25 years. The turn out to the opening night? Only 3 of 30. I had some photo club friends with very good reasons for not attending the opening, and that's very understandable but 3 out of 30? That plain old sucks in the support department. I also belong to a meet up group, these people I barely know and have never met in real life, as a group they arranged a photographic outing meet up and I believe over 20 of them showed up at the opening night. Maybe this a reflection on my personality, people I know do not show up, people I do not know do show up! I can be rather opinionated when it comes to photography, aggressive and demanding when it comes to working hard and devoting yourself to your craft, maybe that rubs people the wrong way sometime.

Strangers with an interest in photography show up but people you have known for 10-20+ years do not?  I have to make more of an effort to show my support for club members who have shows (a rarity) in the future. I guess people also like what they like photographically and don't want to be bothered with the other stuff. The work I see in Edmonton  is  quite often nice pretty well made imagery but often it's empty photographs lacking in originality and interchangeable with work done in hundreds of clubs worldwide . Documentary photographic portraiture is not their thingy, even when shown in a very nice gallery like the VAAA, to each his or her own, people like what they like(there goes that opinionated stuff again!).

Kind of worried about the turnout for my solo show in March of 2013, the Kaasa gallery is a very big space and with a turnout like on the 19th again, it might be a pretty empty room.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Few Digi Shots From The Opening

Here are a few more digi snaps from the show. I took these at the end of the evening when most people at left, honest it was more crowded earlier : ) I also did some videos and will make up a short youtube film later of what happened. Making the little short video is lots of work but also fun to do, love the creative part of choosing some music, editing the clips, making up titles etc. 

Fun Opening Night

I had a good time tonight at the opening, thou my throat is a bit sore from all the talking I did (babbling might be a more appropriate term). I usually try not to talk to much but when I get around my photographs and people start asking questions I just can't stop talking!! Guess I am a ham at heart or maybe its just that I feel this work (the people in the photos) is so important that I need to get that across to the person asking the question.

The photos looked wonderful, it was a bit strange seeing my fake name on the wall but I had fun. Am happy thou that I can just relax now over the next few days and take things slower. I have been going at a fever pace for so many months now, finally I can just sleep, read and relax!

Thou...hmm I should start printing for the show at the Kaasa gallery in March 2013, that show will have 40 photographs of work to do. First thou I need to read and relax and have a nice rest.

Thou...I should start developing my film from sleep and relax...wait! Dads "My Father at 80" photo series needs to be shot!

Guess I will start on all that tomorrow, now I need to read my book on Cambodia, sleep and relax, night everyone!

"Human Voices"

"Human Voices" Opened up today at the VAAA gallery here in Edmonton, Canada. I had 11 20x24 images from the sex worker white background series in the show. Here is the layout of the pics along with my "Artist Statement"

Human Voices 

When I go boomsing (sex) with farang (westerner), I smile outside cry inside”                                                   
                                                     Long 25, gogo bar worker, Pattaya Thailand 2007

I feel that photography can be a powerful voice for change; it can help the forgotten people in our society. My dual hope in creating these photographs was to document the workers as well as to raise awareness in the viewer. I wanted to personalize the nameless sex workers everyone hears about but does not know. My goal was to humanize the statistics, to give a voice to the worker.

The set of portraits in this exhibition were made in Pattaya Thailand in 2007 and 2009. Pattaya is a city 3 hours south of Bangkok and has a population of 100 000, it is world famous as a destination for foreign sex tourists and sex pats (long term foreign sex tourist residents).

The workers in the photographs work a variety of venues, gogo dance bars, outdoor beer bars, freelance street workers and short time room workers. The sex workers of Thailand can make 10 to 20 times in one week what the average blue collar Thai worker can make in 1 month, this makes the lure of Pattaya very strong for a young girl or man in rural Thailand. Often money made with the foreign customers is sent back up country to the workers home to help support children and sometimes entire families.

The sex tourists of Pattaya are predominantly male both straight and gay, from countries around the globe. Different areas of Pattaya city are devoted to a various types of foreign sex tourists, western customers, Arab customers, Asian customers, gay customers all have regions in the city that cater to their specific requirements. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

First Artist Fee

I got my first ever artist fee today from the VAAA, $600!! I will use the money to pay for part of a $2000 credit card film bill. I bought over $6000 worth of film before I left for Thailand, and am splitting up paying for it over 3 shipments. I already paid for shipment number 1 ($2000) this next bill is for the 2nd shipment. I would not normally have ordered so much film all at once but with Kodak's bankruptcy I thought it was prudent to order 4x5 and 35mm Tri-x while I still could!

Video: Pre-show Footage

Woke up at 4am today and worked on the 1 missing print until about 140pm when I rushed over to the VAAA to hand it off. I took this video of the show before it was set up, it looks like the VAAA people are doing and excellent professional job.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Did It

Well have been up for 27 hours 30 minutes, going to have a sandwich and then go to bed. I managed to do most everything thou I did almost fall asleep while waiting at a left turn light (with my foot on the break and signal light on) before going to my work meeting. I got the 10 prints to the VAAA and will try to make up a 11th and deliver it tomorrow before 2pm.

You always want shows, you dream of shows and then when you finally get the shows, boy is it a ton of frickin work!!!!!! Guess its the good kind of work thou, the kind that pushes you and makes you feel better in the end.

I got to go to bed, feel like crap! Night folks

Sprint To The Finish!!

Doing an all day and all night printing session trying to get all the VAAA prints done on time. I used up all my Bergger paper so have switched to Oriental Seagull Warm photo paper. I am tying to make up the final 3 prints with an extra 1 or 2 to choose from. I want to have a few extra photos just in case after dry down I am not happy with what I have. I do not have time or the extra 20x24 paper to do reprints now, I am all in and going for it tonight. Tomorrow at 12-130pm I take 10 framed prints to the gallery.

Will have to stay awake for over 24 hours, probably around 30 hours when all is said and done. I also have a work (security) meeting tomorrow I need to attend, first meeting in a year and a 1/2 and it has to fall on the day I am rushing to finish printing my show, bad luck.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I have been thinking a lot lately about something I call armor. Armor is what the people who work the bars in Thailand seem to wear, it's something they put on to protect themselves from the true reality of the sex workers life.

The long term workers tend to cover themselves with both physical and emotional armor. The physical stuff comes in the form of tattoos and gold. Many women and men who I know in the bar world and have known for many years get more and more tattoos as the years pass (unusual for Thai women), many of the women will also wear more and more gold, gold rings, earrings, necklaces, buddha amulets etc. Its like they cover up who they were before the bar life and protect themselves this way. The other armor is the emotional kind, this is also a form of protection. The worker tends to never trust a farang (western) male, never allow themselves to feel emotion, love etc. I remember a girl I knew well who worked a shortime bar, this was back in 2003. The girls name was Ai, she was a very sweet person with a great smile and laugh, she repeatedly said "Farang go-hok" (farang men lie), she would not allow herself to trust anything any farang male said to her. The emotional armor would also be put in place to find a customers, a false cheerfulness. One women I know, Long, a long time gogo bar worker, a girl I have photographed maybe a dozen times once told me "When I go with a farang for sex I smile on the outside but cry on the inside." The smile is Long's armor, the tears are the truth.

The armor is one of the things I was trying to get past with my portraiture of the workers. I wanted to show their true nature, their vulnerability, their inner feelings and emotions. I wanted to get past the false cheerfulness and tell the story of who that person was. The armour would come up to hide the person, I tried to get past the armor, to tell the true story of who the worker really was.

Friday, April 13, 2012

On Edge

With the opening at the VAAA coming closer I feel on edge. I love having the work seen, that's why it was created to be put up on a wall and be viewed by the public. The thing that puts me on edge is being the "Artist Dude" being the center of attention, I wish I could just go to my show and be invisible, let the work speak for itself, let the work tell its own stories. One of the reasons I invented Mr. Yaum was to be personally more invisible, the problem is even inventions have to show up for opening nights!

Maybe its just nervousness and butterflies, at my last exhibit "Fading Lives" I also felt this way but once the show got going things went well. It was also like this during the student talks for "Fading Lives" I felt bad until I started talking about the work, talking about the people in the pictures, then it was fun and enjoyable. Hopefully it will be the same this time round.

Pluggin Along

Working hard trying to get my VAAA show printed and framed. With the 3 big trips to Asia and printing work for  the Dauphine bakery etc. I had limited time to devote to printing the VAAA show, now I am frantically trying to catch up. I have 7 photographs printed and framed, I have the 3 frames ready with mats cut etc. but I still am 3 20x24 photographs short. I found all the needed negs and have made my selections but am running out of time. I have 1 free day Monday the 16ths before the work is do mid day on the 17th at the gallery, the opening is April 19th. I am trying to fit in a bit of printing here and there before and after my 12 hour security night shifts to speed things along a bit, but working 12 hour nights and then trying to do that is difficult. I need to work harder thou and get this done, I also to make sure the printing is of a high standard, I owe it to the people I photographed, the VAAA and all the people who come to view the work.

Am looking forward to April 20th when I can sleep in!! After the 19th I can start developing all the film from the last trip that should be fun!! Photographing dad with his 8x10 Deardorff will also be a blast!

"Ain't Photography Grand!"

A Bit Of Hope

Got this email from a gallery in Italy, sent out my email submission a LONG LONG time ago, sort of forgot about these people. It is nice to have a tiny ray of hope again, maybe the work has a slight chance of being shown after so many rejection letters. Now I just need to figure out what a PDF Portfolio is! Might try sending a few PDF Porfolio's to these folks, "Sex Worker", "Common Lives" and maybe when I get the latest ladyboy photographs developed will try an all "Ladyboy Sex Worker" portfolio.

Hi Gerry,
thank you so much for your submission.

We took a look at your material and at your website, it's very impressive.
But we prefer you to send us a more complete PDF portfolio; can you?

Best regards,

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Feeling Crappy

After the latest rejection I am feeling crappy. It is hard to come and work a 12 hour nightshift with the latest  rejection letter still ringing in your ears. I need to forget the letter and concentrate. I need to finish 3 more prints for the "Human Voices" VAAA show. I have a deadline of Tuesday at 10am, I need to bare down and finish the prints, after Tuesday when I drop off the photographs I can pout, but not now.

To get over this bad vibe I need to develop the film (still in boxes) from my last trip. Once I see those negatives I will feel better, it will re-inspire me. I also need to start making more photographs, I want to start the "My Father at 80" series of portraits, my next week off work. Making pictures always gets me into a positive groove.

Spotting And Mat Cutting

Because of the shows I have been involved with lately, "Fading Lives" and the coming VAAA show "Human Voices" I have become better at some of the technical presentation stuff I did not do much of before. I am now more proficient at mat cutting and a better spotter. You need these skills when your presenting your work to the public in galleries and for the longest time that was not happening for me. Now that I am getting the occasional show I am being forced to learn to cut mats and spot better. I still have lots of room for improvement in these areas but its starting to come around.

After the VAAA show I might have much chance to practise, my next scheduled show (solo show at the Kaassa gallery) is not until March 2013.

Quote: Roger Ebert

"I also love black and white, which some people assume they don't like. For me, it's more stylized and realistic than color, more dreamlike, more concerned with essences than details."

Another Rejection Letter

Sent out a couple of submissions just a little while ago to a gallery in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan got the rejection letter today. The work submitted was the Klong Toey portraits and some Leica shots I did in Poipet Cambododia. It is depressing to get rejected again but such is life, got to move on and keep trying. Might try submitting some of the ladyboy sex worker photos next time around with these people, when I have time to develop the recently shot film.

Am getting quite a pile of rejection letters, I need to make sure I recycle the paper, envelopes properly. I  am becoming a major cause of deforestation in Canada. Think green Gerry!

The people from this gallery were kind enough to send back my 2 submissions, I have already packaged them up and will mail them to 2 other Saskatchewan galleries. Got to keep slugging away maybe someone, somewhere will want to show the work.

This rejection letter is nicely worded:

April 5, 2012

Gerry Yaum

Dear Gerry:

Thank you for your exhibition proposal Although we greatly valued the opportunity to read through your material and see your images, we are unable to offer you an exhibition at this time.

Or least favourite task is writing to artists to tell them they do no have a a show. It is unfortunate that we have limited resources and cannot offer exhibitions to a wider variety of artists.

Your work looks very interesting and accomplished, and we wish you all the best in the future. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to see your work and we appreciate your interest in showing here. Thank you for sending this package to the  Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery.



Sunday, April 8, 2012

Quote: Paul Strand

"I think Thoreau's comment that 'you cannot say more than you see' is profoundly true. It's the final measure. When you come to the end of seeing---when seeing is only looking---then you've reached the end of the road."

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Printing Show

Am working hard printing my VAAA Sex Worker show. I have over half the prints done and will finish the final prints in the coming days. Hopefully last nights printing worked out, am worried I did not print dark enough. I am also went a bit far with the bleaching, might have to do some reprints.

I am also running out of Bergger 20x24 warm tone paper, only about 19 sheets left, damn. I might have to  print part of the show on either Oriental Seagull warm tone or Ilford fiber. Printing on 2 different kinds of paper might look bad but I will have no choice if I run out of the Bergger.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Invite Card To The Opening

Here is the invite card to the opening:

William G. Prettie

Here is the artist write up from the other fellow (who I have not met yet) showing with me at the VAAA on the 19th.

 Also showing new work by William G. Pret­tie: Gallery A: In many ways we create and maintain the world we live in through the language we speak, the text and the colloquialisms we use, and the explications that are part of our being through repetitive usage. Prettie’s work investigates text as image, and image as metaphor, to refashion the way that one looks at familiar things and to allow the mind to explore the new and multi-layered understandings that may result.

VAAA Show Opening

My group show opening at the VAAA will run from April 19th through May 26th, 2012 with the opening reception on Thursday, April 19th from 7-9:30 pm. 


Artist will also be showing at the Gallery in gallery room A William G. Prettie will be showing as well, I am in B.

Paul Strand Documentary

Today I am re watching a Paul Strand documentary called "Strand Underneath The Dark Cloth", this is the 4 or 5th time I have watched the film. It starts out with a wonderful quote from Strand, something I posted back in 2011.

Quote: Paul Strand 

"The important thing is you have to have something to say about the world."

"Find out what it is you have to say and make it work in a rectangular space."
This seems so on the mark to me, that is what photography is about, the need to have something to say about the world. I need to explore my feelings, and say what I want to say through my "Common Lives" series, it will be my view of the world, my say on things.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Video: Weird Chicken Legs

Found this in an area where I photographed a couple of folks in Klong Toey slum. There were these weird live chickens laying on the ground with their legs in odd positions. In the past I have seen dogs laying with their legs stretched behind them (supposedly to help deal with the heat) but this is the first time I have seen chickens do this.

Video: Buddha Sculpture Artists

I made several portraits of these Buddha sculpture builder/artists, I also photographed the Buddha faces. Very nice fellows they asked me to have a meal with them later on.

Here is a link to the an earlier blog story: