Friday, May 31, 2013

2013 Alberta Photo Open Acceptance Letter

Well got a bit of good news in the mail today after 2 days of face slaps.  I got one print into the 2013 Alberta Photo Open at the Kaasa Gallery (where my solo show is now).What I am most surprised at is that they accepted a sex worker portrait, in the past any of the sex worker images was quickly rejected, maybe the judges are selecting a wider range of work, lets hope so.

Here is part of that email:

Congratulations! On behalf of Visual Arts Alberta- CARFAC. I am pleased to advise you have been selected by the jury for the Open Photo/Open Digital exhibition scheduled to run from August 30- Oct 12 2013 in the Kaasa Gallery of the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton and most likely moving to the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary in October........

Nearly 200 images were submitted by 49 artists with 31 selected by 27 artists to be shown in the exhibition. I am pleased to advise you that the jury slec ted the following image from your submission:

Nit, 51, Sex Worker

....A people's choice award will be given out at the opening reception in Edmonton. All artists will receive a small artist fee of $75 for participating in this exhibition. 

With the $75 I can buy a bit more film! The submission was fast and easy, just sent out an email and got in, thats always nice. Now if I can someday get the Alberta Foundation For The Arts grant folks to jump on the boat I'm smiling!

Here is the selected photo, I will print it 16x20:

More 35mm Dump Family Scans

Tax Money To Support The Arts?

Been having a debate with a photo/art friend who does not believe any tax money should ever be spent in support of the arts, I disagree with him. The point I made when he said that only essential things should be covered with tax dollars, nothing else, was this:

"art is essential...there should be more to life than living day to day, just is the expression of our deepest enlivens our hearts, expands our minds and enriches our souls"

Charity Calendar ??

I have been getting lots of advice from various friends on the calendar I am thinking of doing for charity. I am not sure if this is going to happen, my finances are iffy at best so I need to research this carefully before committing $2000 dollars to it. My thinking at present is if I do a calendar I would do it with 35mm shots of the children I shot this month and call it something like "Children Of The Mae Sot Garbage Dump", on the back I would indicate that 100% of the proceeds (plus my donation) will go to the Sky Blue School next to the dump. I think a selection of 12 photographs with children as the main subject would help with the fundraising effort, the fact the money is going to their school would also connect with that theme. I am not sure I want to put the Gerry Yaum name on it, if I do put my fake name on it I will just put it on the back somewhere in small letters. Who cares who took the pictures, its the people in the pictures that matter, selling the calendars and donating the money to the school is the important thing.

Think if it happens I might include these images, I still have lots of film to scan through and develop yet, but I like these as early selections. I might need to include some tighter shots as well as these are pretty wide compositions.

Over Shooting Improving Slowly

The more I shoot my Leica's the less overshooting I do. This last trip I was able to be a bit more selective than previous years, there are not as many wasted shots. Even thou things have improved I still shoot way to much film and need to cut down on my bad shots by at least 1/2 of what I do now. I need to concentrate better and properly anticipate the decisive moment. Like anything the more you do it the better you become, thats also the way it works in photography, in October I will continue down this long learning curve.


I had a 3 hour darkroom teaching session last night with a student that was extended to 4 hours. Teaching was quite fun, I went over the basics of RC printing and had the student (Ryan) doing as much hands on work as I could give him. The money I made from the session I will re-invest in 100 foot rolls of Ilford HP5 35mm, checking pricing on that now. Hopefully this teaching money  re-investment will lead to an important negative and print. Any and all money I make through my photography gets reinvested back into the photography.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Next Group Of 35mm Leica Mae Sot Dump Photographs

Art By Acquisition Rejection Letter

I got my Art By Acquisition rejection letter today, they rejected the 5-35mm images I submitted. There were 846 works from 203 artists submitted, my photographs did not make it to the second level as decided by the expert panel.

I guess the expert panel is made up members from the Alberta art community ( I wonder how you are judged an art expert?). That's 2 rejection letters in 2 days, will try again next year with some 4x5 work, maybe submit some folios (multiple images with a common theme).

Here are the 5 photographs that were rejected: 

Nikon 90mm And Tri-x

Put the Nikon 90 on the Linhof, boy is this baby fun to focus, tons of light. ou definately get what you pay for, the F4.5 is worth the extra money. I think/hope this 90mm will be my main portrait lens, I will use the 150 to do head shots or head and shoulder portraits and the 90mm will cover all my horizontal and vertical full body portraits.

I am feeling more and more comfortable with the 4x5 in the field, I want to experiment with the 5x7 now and the 8x10. I have lots more than 500 sheets of 5x7 and 600 sheets of 8x10 in Tri-x film, I want to put those sheets to important use, now with the cost skyrocketing I might not be buying any more. It is important to use my supply of Tri-x film wisely, making important portraits.

I think I might also buy some HP5 and mix it in with my Tri-x on my trips, this way I can use the HP5 when I am unsure of a subject and the Tri-x for the most important photographs. This will allow me to continue to improve as a shooter and will allow me to use the Tri-x I have frozen for a longer time (when I am a better shooter than today).

More 4x5 Dump Photos

1st Day Klong Toey Boxing Portraits Turned Out!

Gosh who knew, I thought I was having trouble with my shutter the first day I shot at the Klong Toey Muay Thai gym, turns out the exposures were OK. I am not sure I composed the portraits right, maybe the wider lens (90mm not my regular 150mm) should have made me move my camera a bit closer. I do like using the 90mm lens to make portraits thou, the slight distortion is visually appealing to me (as I hoped) and including more background in the photograph I also like.

With the Linhof 90mm lens shutter working in  these shots maybe I jumped the gun buying the 90mm Nikon last week, oh well whats done is done, the moneys spent. I am sure I will use the Nikon 90mm for years to come, in combination with the 150mm Nikon it should be my main portrait lens in the future.

Here are some of those shots from that 1st day at the gym, I am not sure the negs are sharp enough to print, they were made at 1/8 and F8 and a bit soft:

I am quite happy with these 90mm available light portraits, I will shoot more in October, and also shoot other vertical and horizontal portraits in the slum using this lens. I need to get myself a large reflector to use, one that will allow me to add light to the subject from a greater distance. I am starting to feel like my 4x5 large format portraiture is coming together. Glad I did not have a shutter malfunction! A few more years of this and I will move up to 8x10.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


After the third grant rejection letter from the Alberta Arts people I got down, felt down, alone and fell asleep for 7 hours even thou I was not really that tired. As I slept I had a weird dream of meeting a crying Japanese women who had a broken heart, I tried to console her and we became close, then later in the dream I found out she was lying to me and using me. I woke up and thought about things, not sure what the dream was about but still felt lousy especially after I remembered the rejection letter and the Tri-x film price increases (a film I love and can no longer afford).

It is now an hour or so since I woke and I think I am over the mood swing. What have I got to whine about? I live in a beautiful country, I have people who love me,  a passion for my photography and I never go hungry. The people at the dump, have no country, live in terrible conditions with extreme poverty and yet they are friendly, compassionate and caring. Time to stop the down time and get on with making the pictures I know are important.,I need to continue to tell my stories.

I will have a meal then develop a bunch of 35mm film tonight, enough of this down time shit, I got work to do.

Strike 3, Grant Rejected Again By the Alberta Foundation For The Arts

Just got my 3rd strike (rejection letter) on my latest grant request, this is the 2nd time my "Families Of The Mae Sot Garbage Dump" project was rejected by the Alberta Arts jury. I will have to fund the October trip and photographs completely on my own.

I will try to get some help from the Edmonton Arts Council, it feels like I am wasting my time with the Alberta people.

I also got my 90mm Nikon lens today from Japan, a beautiful lens, I hope I can create some strong work with it.

Cambodia Pictures? What Cambodia Pictures?

When I developed my first 8 rolls of Tri-x 35mm  I did 6 from the dump and 2 old films which had been laying around the darkroom. One of the extra films turned out to be shots from 2010 (I think) when I photographed in a slum in Poipet Cambodia.

Here are some shots from that roll:

I also had a previously developed Cambodia film (negative) just sort of laying on a table top in the darkroom, guess I forgot about it, I cut up the film and here are some scans.

VIdeo: FIrst Day At The Dump

Made this video my first day actually my first hour at the Mae Sot dump, it was 39C that day. I was freaking out a bit with all the flies crawling all over me. If you walked the flies stayed off a bit but when you stood still you would have 30 or 40 flies on you (especially the closer you were to fresh garbage).

Kodak Tri-x Prices Go Fricking Insane!!!!!!!

Just last year I bought a ton of 35mm bulk, 4x5 and 8x10 Tri-x, am glad I did their prices have gone INSANE!! Looks like I will be shooting HP5 sooner than he expected, thank goodness I broke the bank buying as much Tri-x as I could before the price change. I shood have at least a 5 year supply of the film (35mm, 4x5 and 8x10) maybe 10 years if I curb my crazy shooting. Now the question arises should I resell it and make a profit and switch to HP5 earlier? I love Tri-x so much I probably could not bare to resell it,  I will probably shoot it to the last sheet and roll myself.

I got this email today with the bad news from my regular source for film after I asked him to check the pricing on another 50 100foot boxes of Tri-x 35mm.

Hey Gerry,

Thank you for your email. 

I hope you're sitting down. 

Costs on Kodak products have gone up by insane amounts lately. I won't be able to get you the same pricing as last time. You were paying $44/roll before. My DEALER COST on the rolls is now well over $80/roll! 

The cheapest I can go on this stuff to make it worth my while is $90/roll. 

It may be time to switch to HP5+. 

Let me know what you would like to do. On behalf of an era that is rapidly fading, my sincere apologies!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

All In?

I am thinking of going all in when it comes to my 35mm work next trip. I have the opportunity to buy a slightly damaged and very used Leica 35mm F1.4 lens. Leica has an older and newer version of the lens, I cannot afford the newer version as it runs at $4000+ used (can't really afford the older version either!). The older lens which was made in Canada was made between 1960 and 1995, its a legendary piece of glass. Even thou its old and has some slight damage (not to the glass) it will still cost me $1980.00 (plus tax and shipping), that's a ton of money for one small lens but I'm temped. If I bought the lens I would probably go with 4 camera bodies and 4 lens next trip which might be a bit of overkill or might work out great. The Leica cameras are compact very well made and reliable so I could carry 3 M6 bodies, 1 MP4 body along with 21mm, 28mm, 35mm and 50mm lens. So far I like the several of the 35 negs shot this last trip, the 35mm lens might me allow better photos next time. Should I go all in and buy a lens I really can't afford? I still have several film payments, the last of the 8x10 and the coming 35mm 50 box bulk order and wanted to buy a Gitzo (expensive) tripod for the 4x5.

First 35mm "Families Of the Dump" Photos

Here are the first 35mm photos for the REJECTED : ) Alberta Foundation For The Arts Grant project pictures. This project (Families Of The Mae Sot Garbage Dump)was rejected by the grant jury but I said f-ck it and went 100% on my own dime to shoot it, they did not think it was important enough to fund but I did. I hope the next grant, also for to document the dump families is accepted or I will have to struggle through and fund it with Gerry's security guard grant money  once again. The first rejected grant was for $5000 the second attempt asks for $3500 (which will only pay part of my total costs), I should find out soon whether I got the 2nd grant or not.

All the photos were made on Tri-x with 2 Leica M6 bodies and 3 lens a 21mm, 28mm and 50mm. On my next trip in Oct I plan on shooting 3 camera bodies so I do not have to the lens change over, I will also have 3 cameras to change off to if I run out of film in 1 or 2. Last trip I had 2 cameras with film run outs and missed a possibly good photo op.

Tonight I am multi tasking, developing 4x5 in the Jobo, scanning 35mm, transferring all my digi files to DVD as a backup and uploading photos to this blog.

Some of the images were shot a bit farther away, I was decided to try some compositions like this after viewing the wonderful book Africa by Sebastiao Salgado. In the book Salgado photographed the African landscape or the peoples interaction with the landscape using a 35mm camera and black and white film.

I feel projects like "The Families Of The Mae Sot Garbage Dump" that deal with important social issues need to be supported and funded, these stories need to be told. Th foundation for the arts folks thought not, they said no. Getting the door slammed in my face, getting angry and pissed off can be a good thing, it drove me to work harder to try and make important photographs, and prove the no people wrong. On some days when I was melting in the sun, I pushed myself harder, pushed myself to go back another day because I thought what I was doing was important no matter the lack of grant support. Even one of my photo/art friends thought that tax money should not be used to fund stories like this, the money is being spent either way, why not try to use it to raise awareness about a forgotten people. The story of the child above who lives and plays in garbage, needs to be seen, talked about and hopefully changed. 

The Burmese families at the dump were kind, considerate and friendly to me, I owe them a deep debt of gratitude. I will return in October with free b/w and color photos, I will try to help in small ways that I can, am really looking forward to the trip back. I might try to print and sell a calendar to help raise some funds that I can donate at the dumpsite or the local school.

Ok enough ranting on my part, now just a bunch of new photographs.