Monday, September 30, 2013

Quotes: Sebastiao Salgado

"I believe that you must be very close, very inside, to receive this pictures, because again the majority of the pictures you receive from the person."

"What really interests me most in the photographic phnenomenan isn't choosing the powerful pictures on a contact sheet but rather the phnemomenan itself, the integration with the people in photographs, its their acceptance to be photographed, to give an image of themselves, its almost a gift you receive."

11x14 Contact Sheets?

I need to become more organized in the darkroom, I spend far to much time looking for lost negs, and have difficulty choosing which negs to print. After watching a documentary on Sebastiao Salgado I have come to realize the value of 11x14 contact sheets for my 35mm rolls of Tri-x. I have an 8x10 enlarger and have done enlarged contacts before so doing them again is not a problem, my only worry would be the costs of the paper. Finding negs, and looking through the contacts will be much more efficient on larger pieces of paper. I will try making these enlarged contacts with the next group of film I shoot at the dump, lets see how that goes.

Another thing that Salgado does is make 5x7 RC work prints of his favourite images from the contact sheets. His editing process is as follows, an enlarged contact sheet selection, then 5x7 work prints, the last step is the archival fibre print. I might try to copy his procedures, one of the most difficult things to do is figure out which negs to print, tiny contact sheets and few work prints do not make the process easier.

Burmese Person Project

Well another day of photo dreaming and came up with yet another photography project possibility. The series would be on the Burmese in Thailand, families at the dump, children in the sky blue school, people working in the sweat shops along the border, trafficked Burmese people deep inside Thailand, brothel worker portraits, hill tribe people along the border, illegals being repatriated back to Burma by the Thai police and all the people living in the 9 Burmese refugee camps in Thailand.

 I will place this project in the back of my mind with all the others (to many to count) and let it germinate for a while and see how it develops, maybe something will come of it, maybe not. I am excited by the thought of this project, it could create important work that might raise funds to help the Burmese in Thailand. If I could get the work shown in some top notch venues it could educate and raiseawareness about the lives of these people. This strikes me as a very worthwhile subject, a project that if done right might even rise to be called noble. To give nobility to these forgotten people, that would really be something, something to be proud of and worth creating. Photographing people, showing their courage, dignity and beauty, telling the stories of their lives, now that's what photography is about!
More thought needed as always

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Well with the trip coming up soon I have doubled my efforts to learn some Burmese. Whenever you make photos and in life in general its very important to be polite to people so I have been concentrating on Burmese words that will help me communicate in a polite way. I can say "Can I take your photo?, What is your name?,  Thank you etc. But to be more polite it's important to address each person individually with respect. In Asian languages like Thai, Chinese and Burmese when you address people you do not know you often use the terms, brother, sister, uncle and aunt even if they are strangers.  I have been working on learning these words.
My method for approaching people will be as follows, I will wai them first (placing your hands together and raising them to your face with a slight bow) say hello (mingala- bah) then address them as either uncle or aunt, sister or brother. 
These new words:

Ooh-Lay = Uncle
Toh-Doh = Aunt (-oh, like in otter)
Auh-Go = Brother
Auh-Mau = Sister
(T)Da = Son
(T)Da-Mee = Daughter
To help me remember the new vocabulary I have associated the words with the faces of people I know from the dump, for example the young girl Doo-Aye I associate with (T)Da-Mee.
Another term that I am working on today is Kun-Nuh Lay Ngoh = "Can you just hold on a moment" I will use this term when I am making photos (especially with the large format gear) and need people to stay still. 

I will be limited in my Burmese speaking, its not like in Thai where I can have conversations and talk in some detail. The way I look at it thou is that any Burmese is better than no Burmese. Languages are great fun and a wonderful way to make friends and gain access.

Wonderful Sebastiao Salgado Videos

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

16 More

Made up another 16 submissions last night, I still have to burn 5 DVDs and put all the DVDs into the envelopes but 95 percent of the work is done.

This group of submissions is mostly advertising stuff that I am mailing to the premier museums across Canada. I am sending stuff to the major museums in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Edmonton, Calgary and the National Gallery of Canada. There are also a few non spam submissions that might lead to shows at smaller places in Edmonton, Regina and Kamloops. I am sending one submission package to an international gallery, Pier 24 in San Francisco. I also did two email submissions to the Mississauga Art Gallery (they prefer emails).

Next year when I have new work I will send out packages to these same world class museums a second time, eventually this might lead to something and if not then at least I went down swinging.

Monday, September 23, 2013

More Paper

I just did another 50 sheet 16x20 Ilford photo paper order with B&H at a cost of $251 CAD. I am not sure I will need the paper as I still have around 40 sheets left but I thought it was prudent to have some extra paper in the darkroom.

I placed an other with my plastic company folks to get the stainless steel Dibond as well. The only problems left is this company is repairing their guillotine cutting device so I need to wait on that. I still do not know how I will hang the Dibond panels. I have gotten help from several friends with hanging suggestions but it still is a bit of an unknown.

Things are coming together but I am running short of time now and I need to get on my horse to get this all done. I spent the last few days flattening fibre prints and doing a bit of printing. I will try to re-print one negative and start work on a new one before going taking a nap, I have to work tonight.

Update* I got an invoice for the Dibond today, $418.11 including the cutting price. The cost of photo paper and the mounting Dibond for the show is around $1200 so far. Add in the shipping box and shipping costs and we are somewhere North of $1700. Doing shows like this are to expensive, in the future I will concentrate on artist fee payment galleries.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

2 Options For Mounting

I want Dibond shopping today and came away with two options.

1) At the framing shop Larry got his prints done at I can get 20 pieces cut and the prints mounted for $808.00. This is the easiest option it would be professionally done and they do all of the work.

2) I can get 2-4x8 sheets cut for either around $405 or $310. The $310 version is not Dibond but something very similar it has a grey core, the $405 option is a nice darker finish aluminum with black core.  I would be able to get 30 boards cut out of the 2 sheets of material, which is more than enough. This option is available at a high end plastics company not far from where I work.

With both places I will have to attach the hanging hardware on the back myself. I am leaning towards option 2 because of the price difference. I got a test piece of material from them to try out, I am not sure I can dry-mount to it. The framing shop does not use a dry-mount process but some kind of laminating method to attach the print to the metal. If I can drymount to the samples I picked I will go with option 2.

Another possible problem is the guillotine cutter they plastic shop uses is currently being repaired but should be up and running in 2-3 weeks when I make the order.

I feel more at ease now, I have things sort of arranged in my mind, I know I can get this done. That $400 difference in price is very tempting, $400 will pay a hotel bill for about 20 nights. It would be good if I can do this myself because later on I may be using the same system if the Bangkok show happens, heck some left over sheets from this show could be used in that show.

Update* I was able to drymount fibre photo paper onto the surfaces of both metals in #2. The cheaper do it yourself option ($405 or $310) is the way I will go, I can save money and use it for 20 hotel nights in Thai. The only thing I have left to figure out is how to hang the mounted prints. An acquaintance in my new photo group has hanged large sheets of Dibond before, I can ask him tomorrow when the group meets for dinner.


My blog advertising is up to $65 so the check which is paid out at $100 is still many months away but its free money so thats always a nice thing. I used the last check to buy film but am not sure how I will use this one. I do not have much b/w 120mm film in stock so thats an option. I have plenty of 35mm, 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 Tri- x so no use ordering that. I also have lots of extra chemistry and photo papers so probably do not need that. One paper I could use more of is 16x20 Ilford Warmtone, I might order another 2 boxes of that which will cost about $550 minus $100 from this advertising check. If I end up showing the Burmese refugee work it will be printed on that paper, so that's probably the smartest use for the money.

Thanks to everyone who is visiting the advertising, every little bit helps and its greatly appreciated. One click goes a long way, please check out the Ads if you can.

Thanks Gerry

Large Secondary Processing Session

Gosh maybe I bit off more than I could chew tonight. I wanted to do the secondary processing on all the remaining "Body Sellers" show prints, I did 18 last night and thought I might try the rest today. I think I have over 50 prints to bleach, re-fix, hypo clear, tone, wash and dry. I have not been doing as much as I should over the last 2 nights so thought I would push myself today, maybe it's to big of a push. I wanted to go looking for the Dibond Aluminum (for mounting prints) order tomorrow but I might have to put that off till Friday.

Luckily I have large sinks and lots of trays, I wish I did have the 3rd sink set up already as things would be much easier if I did. I currently have a large 20x24 washing tray (bought at cost from a friend, Rob) on the floor. This tray is completely filled with water and packed with prints, I am glad I chose the deep tray option with this purchase otherwise I would not have the room to store all these prints.

I am also trying something new, I am giving a weak bleach bath to entire prints, especially to some that are a bit to dark, in an attempt to save them. These bleach baths run from 30 seconds to 4 minutes. When you put the bleached print into the fixer it pops nicely, into a slightly raised contrast somewhat lighter version. I will have to see how these prints looked after toning/washing and drying but this might become a regular part of my printing routine.

Its important I get these wet prints into the washer and then dry them quickly otherwise I will get emulsion damage, that usually happens within 2 days or less with wet prints. Am going to have a quick meal and then back into the dark for another 5 or 6 hours, already did about 5. I need to finish this off and get those prints dry!

Update* Well I finished the bleaching/fixing/hypo clearing and toning at 8am so it only took me 4 hours. To do the toning I had 3 16x20 trays filled with selenium 1/20, I did 2 prints per tray back to back for 2 minutes. Doing 6 large prints at the same time required quick hands but I think it worked out well. I am now in the washing and drying stages, the drying will take a long time I broke out my back up drying stand I got free from a Monochrome Guild friend (thanks Court) and also my back up back up screens that I bought from a former darkroom worker who quit. I now have 2 washers washing prints one a 20x24 (got that one free also, thanks Rob) and a 16x20 washer (bought it from a non shooter photographer). I am basically using every piece of second hand equipment I ever bought or was given through the years!

Within 2 days I will know exactly where I stand with this show printing work, I will know which prints I need to reprint and how many more prints I need to make. My deadline is roughly 37-38 days to have the work printed, spotted, mounted and shipped to New Orleans. It will be a big relief to get this all done, then I can concentrate on making new pictures in Thailand for 5 weeks.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Vimeo Video

I uploaded a new video to my Vimeo account, its a higher resolution version of the "Families of the Dump" (thinking of a possible alternate title now) music slide show that I posted earlier on this blog.

Here is the link:

Inspiring And Helpful Email

I just got a surprise, a rather amazing email from a person I don't now, an email that sort of took my breath away and encourages me to to double my efforts and work harder. Sometimes you feel like your just spinning your wheels going no where but when people take time out of their lives to follow your work and write to you it's a big positive rush, you feel your doing the right thing and on the right track.  I will take this positive vibe with me when I return to Thailand soon to continue the work. The stories I want to tell are starting to be be told : ) , "Ain't Photoraphy Grand!"

I will follow many of J...'s suggestions, including spending more time with the people, a stronger edit and a project name change. Here is the email:


I have followed your work for quite sometime now since viewing it on APUG. I am writing as it relates to your "Families of The Dump" series. I admire what your are doing, but fear you a rushing to bring what you have experienced emotionally to the public. This project has HUGE potential, but I feel it needs to be more developed into a long-term project. It is still in its infancy and I fear that by producing a book, and displaying what images you currently have to Galleries and Museums will cause you to not successfully relay your message due to the short amount of time you have spent at the dump thus far.

Over time, I feel your pictures and vision will become stronger as you adjust to using your 35mm camera's, especially the R6/60mm lens combo. You will become an invisible part of the community and your photographs will become more intimate and stronger.  You will be able to produce those close ups that you mentioned as well as wide, long, and medium shots. Also, things that you mentioned such as: composition, quick accurate focusing, interpreting a scene correctly to tell the story properly, selecting the decisive moment better, the right camera angle, your use of light shadow, and the use of foreground to be better able to tell a 3D story will become intuitive.

Sebastiao Salgado, whom we both admire normally takes 8 years to complete his projects.  I am not suggesting you wait that long, but I do not want you to rush this project because I know you are onto something GREAT! W. Eugene Smith, of whom we greatly admire also took years to complete his series, and sometimes did not complete them at all due to not being able to control his passion and excitement for his work. It completely overwhelmed him to the point that he lost the importance of what he wanted to convey. It is my hope that you find a medium between the two above mentioned photographers to ensure your work is seen in the best manner possible as it relates to this project.

Also, in my opinion, the title of the series "Families of The Dump" has a negative connotation to it. The word dump is likened to filth, trash, germs, bad smells etc...  It makes me feel as though the families have been thrown away and are less important than the trash they collect which is counterproductive to what you are attempting to portray with this story.  

You wrote: 

 "It was sad to say goodbye today, these people cannot go forward to other countries or back to their own homes in Burma, they are caught in a no mans land. They work in the dump site because its the only way they can make a living, the only way they can feed their families". Seeing children running barefoot through the garbage or covered in flies is heartbreaking. You feel so helpless being in a situation like that, you want to help but how?

"Families of The Dump", does not describe what you wrote to me. What is see in what your wrote above are a group of people whose lives are "RECYCLED" endlessly/repeatedly due to circumstances out of their control. Thus I feel a more fitting title for the project is "THE RECYCABLES"  because their lives pass through the same cycle on a daily basis similarly to the trash that they collect and recycle which can be likened to extractions of useful materials crucial to their survival. Let it be known that I did not think of the word "RECYCABLES" but thought it best fit your project after you used in your post about how Burmese people like to sing when they work.


I hope my words did not offend you. If they did I humbly apologize because it was not my intent. I make no claims of being a photography expert, but I see so much potential with this project. I needs to be completed fully, and I do not want to see you rush it. I think if you wait a couple of years with a strong edit the Galleries/Museums will take notice as they pay more attention to Long-Term projects than those that are recent and fresh. Do not let the rejection disuade your pursuits of completing this WONDERFUL well-needed story. You are the right person for this project. I am certain of it!

Also, I believe your decision to only use 35mm for this project is well founded. Keep up the GREAT WORK!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

PhotoNOLA Questions For Aritcle

I got an email an email today from Thom my friend and contact from the New Orleans PhotoNOLA show. He gave me a series of questions to answer for a promotional article he is writing on the show.

One of the great things about having shows is it forces you down roads you might not have other wise traveled. Things you understand in your heart but have not put down before in words are drawn out of you. It forces you to explain exactly why and what your doing and try to express it in a fluent way, thoughts you feel inside are pulled outside. This questionnaire and the coming artist talks have really made me focus, I have to  explain my motivations, hopes and the aims of my photography. All this introspection can only help future work.

I will post all the questions and answers later when I completed them.

Well off to the darkroom, I need to do some bleaching and toning.

Quote: Canadian Photography Online

"I speak a lot about a photographer’s voice and vision. It is, to me, one of the hallmarks of an artist who has explored their medium to an extent that have created a dialogue. Great photographers have a voice that is clear and spoken in each image.

While this voice is the pursuit of every artist, there is one aspect to photography that separates it from other mediums and presents an alternate voice that can be equally as strong as the artist’s. That voice is the subject’s."

The Rooms, Provincial Museum Newfoundland

I remembered another place I wanted to try to submit to, "The Rooms"  the provincial museum in Newfoundland. It looks like a wonderful facility, doubt I have much of a chance but maybe someday with repeated efforts and improving work the photos might make it in.

Heck they are even asking for submissions! So anything is possible.

The Rooms, Saint John Newfoundland

Monday, September 16, 2013

8 Turns Into 9

Well I finished this latest round of submissions, the grand total ended up being 9. I included a high end documentary photography venue in England called the Side Gallery. I have a bit of work to do on the spam/advertising submissions next work week then I will send out those as well (another 6 or so). I the next round the work includes these same "Families of the Dump" images along with a selection of 15 "Body Sellers" photos (sex workers on white background shots made in 2007, 2009 and 2012)

If you do not submit your work you will never get it shown, or noticed. I understand the major museums in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and the National Gallery in Ottawa are not going to get to excited about the stuff I am sending them, heck they just might toss the package in the garbage without opening it. The idea behind this is to be persistent, to keep working (pushing myself to get better) and keep submitting to these same venues over and over again, maybe someday interest will be raised and the work might be shown. To have the stories I want to tell seen in a world class Canadian venue would be something else. I feel I owe it to my subjects, I owe them a great debt, I need to tell their stories where the most people can hear their voices.

First things first thou, I need to make these submissions, continue to be dedicated to my art and work hard for those great pictures. Day by day, brick by brick builds the grand cathedral, I just hope I don't run out of bricks before I'm able to finish this thing. : )

Update* I mailed out the 9 submissions,  stamps cost $1.34 for Canada and $4.38 for Italy, UK. The stamp cost within Canada is reasonable so will be doing a lot more of those in the coming years. I also went down to Staples tonight and got 32 duo tangs booklets for future submissions. I have a box full of envelopes that I got when a local photo finishing business closed so the cost of sending these things out within Canada is pretty cheap, probably only $2.50 - $3.00 or so each. I can find the info on the gallery/ museums and work on the packages during my nightshifts, so making multiple submissions is not to big a deal. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

3 Turns Into 5 Turns Into 8

Well I made up my 3 submissions and upped it by 2, I added a package to the Mandel in Saskatoon and to the Red Deer Museum. Tonight I will do another 3, Galleries/Museums in Calgary, Halifax and Italy! These last 3 are basically spam sends to major venues, I just hope the curators will take a time to learn a little bit about my work. The place in Italy asked me to send a PDF portfolio of my sex worker white background images a year or so ago (still trying to figure out what that is), I have yet to do that but thought since they do lots of documentary photography they might like to see "The Families of the Dump" work.

I expect to send out all 8 on Monday or Tuesday, most of the submissions are long shots but some are possible like the VAAA where I have shown before. Does not hurt to try and advertise your photographs, maybe the work will be seen by a larger audience, that can only be a positive.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Stuff That's Happening

Well last night I managed to project my slide movies and PowerPoint slide show, all looks ok. The movies play better in quicktime than they did in another player, not sure why that is.

Last night I was also working on getting all the paper work and photo files ready for 3 submissions. I am going to submit "Families of the Dump" to the VAAA (Edmonton), Art Gallery @ 501 (Sherwood Park) and the AGGP (Art Gallery of Grand Prairie).

All 3 of these galleries fit into my new submitting criteria, not far away (no shipping costs) and they pay artist fees (help offset production costs). I doubt I will submit any new work to far off non paying places any more as the costs of such shows are just to high for Mr. Security Guard to afford. For now it looks like I will be limited to Western Canada locations.

I have 3 strikes with this current work, lets see how it goes. I will be making more pics in the dump in coming months if one of these submissions is accepted I will have more pics to choose from, if all 3 fail I can re-submit new work along with the old in 2014.

I am really looking forward to meeting the people I met last trip, I need to spend more time with them and build closer relationships. This should be an eye opening life changing experience again, amazing people, living in a very trying and difficult place.

Friday, September 13, 2013

"Families Of The Dump" Music Slideshow Final Version

Finished the PowerPoint slide show for the "Families Of The Dump" project. I might use this in my future Artist talks (if there are any!!). This is the low resolution Internet version video, I will use a much higher quality file for the talk because the slide show will be projected large onto a screen.

This is the work the Alberta Foundation For The Arts jurors twice rejected as unworthy of grant funding, I had to do it 100% with my own security money and some borrowed money.

If you want to help the people in the pictures you can do so here at the "Eyes on Burma" site run by Fred Stockwell. Please help out, Fred is a reliable devoted guy who is doing his best for these families.

The wonderful moving music is "Mad World" by Gary Jules:

From Inside

When I photograph I need to reach deep inside and express my inner thoughts and feelings thru my pictures. An artists work should be an insight into his inner most self, as Salgado says , photograph with all of you.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Quote: Errol Morris From His Book "Believing Is Seeing"

Photographs attract false beliefs the way flypaper attracts flies. Why my scepticism? Because vision is privileged in our society and our sensorium. We trust it; we placer or confidence in it. Photography allows us to uncritically think. We imagine that photographs provide a magic path to the truth.
What's more, photographs allow us to think we know more than we really do. We can imagine a context that isn't really there. In the pre-photographic era, images came directly from our eyes to our brains and were part of our experience of reality. With the advent of photography, images were torn free from the world, snatched from the fabric of reality, and enshrined as separate entities. They became more like dreams, It is no wonder that we really don't know how to deal with them.

Quote: Sebastiao Salgado

"You make the photograph with all of you."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Blurb Book - Scanning - Artist Lecture Power Point - New Group

Things are coming along now on the book, the scans and the lecture Power Point. I am finishing the last of the 35mm "Families of the Dump" scans now (the scanner is humming away downstairs). I have part of the Blurb book completed and part of the Power Point lecture finished.

I got permission to project the Power Point presentation at work this weekend so I can test to see if the pics are pixalated/blurry etc. If I need bigger sized jpegs I need to know now not on lecture day. I will try sending out the first attempt of the latest blurb book probably next week (Families of the Dump). I will need to do a test soft cover version before I try and print the higher costing hardcover.

I will also go Dibond shopping next week. I have had 3 quote replies so far I need to check out, one from a framing company, one from a plastics company and one from the company that did the great job on Larrys prints (cost with this place is $800 but they do everything for me, including the dry mounting).

Lots of things are happening, but everything seems to be pretty much on schedule and falling into place. I might also take my mother and father out on a trip next week, to visit my moms childhood home (last time we did dads).

On the 20th I have to attend a meeting of a new photo club group I belong to, this group is tentatively called the Alberta Photographic Society ( I think thats the name we talked about), this group is filled with very dedicated photographers. So far the society is different than any other photo group I have belonged to, I have always been the pushy guy in other groups, always sending out emails, always trying to get others to produce work etc. In this group I am passive and slow compared to others  who are very passionate about photography and growing as artists. It is quite exciting to not be the one pushing all the time but instead being pushed, challenged and encouraged myself.

Thai Trip Costs

Well today I got my $75 for the print in the Alberta Photo Open. I deposited it into my Thai trip savings account which now gives me a huge grand total of $110.37 saved! For my 5 weeks in Thailand I will need to have $2335 or at the least $1500 (plus some security pay money that will deposited after I leave Canada).

Total Trip Costs

Air ticket = $1440, (am paying for that now).
Hotels about $20 a night (33 nights) = $660+
Food about $25 a day (33 days) = $825+
Transportation (buses to/from Mae Sot/elsewhere, motorcycles to dump, taxis/motorcycles/buses in Bangkok) = $350+
Donations (Burmese families at the dump, Burmese children's school). = $200-$300
Miscellaneous Expenses = $200+

Grand Total= $2235 or $2335 (not counting air ticket)

The food costs might be cheaper, if I eat only Thai foods and cut down on how much I am eating. The hotel and transportation costs are pretty much set, I can try to negotiate prices down a bit but that will not change much. I want to give a minimum of $200 to the families at the dump but I hope to give $300. I have asked for extra shifts at work, not sure I will get them thou. I also have a chance to earn a bit from a all day 2 person darkroom/view camera workshop, not sure this is going to happen, hope it does. Hopefully this will all come together and it will be a successful trip.

None of the photography costs are included in this budget.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Old Photo Scan Of Nong

I remember taking this photo back in 2003, it is of Nong who I knew in 1999, she had fallen on hard times and lost a lot of weight. I found her again in 2003 and photographed her with her family and  children. This pic was taken in almost complete darkness with flash near her Bangkok slum home when I was leaving.

2 Reprints Done

Did 2 ladyboy reprints tonight, I think I will probably use both in the show. Also spent the night scanning, I am trying to get all the Mae Sot dump 35mm scans done so I can make up my power point, and blurb books this week at work. I need to take my big iMac with me this week to work on those projects. The blurb book will be of the Mae Sot dump pics, but maybe I should concentrate on a 8x10 white background sex worker book after all that is the subject of the show. I am running out of time to complete all these things. I also wanted to send out a bunch of my work intros to the big galleries before I leave. I need to scrounge some money together for Thai also.

Todays reprints ladyboy workers Ray (25) and Betty:

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Reprints Needed

I will have to reprint the photos I made at the beginning of these darkroom sessions. I was trying to save money and used the older photo paper that I had sitting around for several years and some stuff I had thrown in with one of my Kijiji darkroom buys, that paper it turns out looks yellower (fogged?) as compared to the new Ilford paper of the same make-surfface. I am down to about 55 sheets of the new Ilford 16x20 I bought from B&H a while back, I hope I do not have to buy more, I do not need the added expense just now. Will have to see how it goes but if I do have to order it will only take 1 week for it to arrive after payment is made, B&H service is fast and reliable.

I still do not have any money saved for Thailand, I hope I can get some extra shifts at work.

A Lucky Guy

Some people spend their entire lives looking for that magic thing they love, they search and search and never seem to come to terms with that thing is. I feel very lucky because I have almost always known what I wanted to do. When I was about 16 I had an epiphany I realized what I loved to do, what I wanted to do the rest of my life which was make pictures. Today in the darkroom I was into my 7th or 8th hour of printing, I was so content, so happy, loving every second of it. I am 49 now and my love for photography has grown stronger and stronger with the passing years, gosh I wish I could live forever and never stop creating new pictures. It does not get better than this!

And Another 3

Been on a roll in the darkroom, tonight is the 3rd night in a row I cranked out 3 prints. If I can do another 2 or 3 on my last night off work tomorrow, I will have had a great printing week. One more weeks printing on my next seven days off work and I should be done.  It should take me 5 or 6 to dry mount everything then I can send off the shipping case.

I need to find the Dibond and get those aluminum boards ordered to size as soon as possible, hopefully that will happen next week or at most by Tuesday on the following week.

Here are todays 3, Ladyboys Um and Jiji and female worker Long:

I am thinking of including both a 2007 and 2009 picture of Long, she is the female worker I was closest to. One time I went to her pink apartment room and read and translated love letters she got from some british guy. Stuff like, "All those other woman I was with during my 2 week trip did not matter, you were the only one I cared about. I miss boom boom with you". He made all kinds of promises to her, then stopped phoning and emailing. Long was desperate to contact this guy again and asked for my help. The last I heard she had left the bar sex worker world and got a job in a far off Thai town, I hope she is safe and happy.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Another 3 Prints

Printed another 3 prints tonight, thou I will probably have to reprint some of these if I decide to use them. The negs were more difficult tonight than yesterday and things did not flow as well, but I got the work done. I will take a bath (smell like a darkroom) and then off to bed after a bit of reading. Started a 4th book "A Different Light, The Photography OF Sebastiao Salgado". I want to try to print and other 2 photos tonight after I get up.

Tonights 3 shots of Aek, Sau and Nu.

Finally a few dried photos I printed before, ladyboys Betty and Apple. Boy is fun to print photographs with the 8x10 Durst enlarger, what a great machine. I am looking forward to printing the 8x10 available light portraits I will eventually shoot, those 600 sheets of Tri-x should yield some nice photos. If I rearrange my darkroom in a few years and add the 3rd sink I want to see if I can set up the 8x10 so that I can tilt the head and do enlargements on the wall. I would like to print bigger than 20x24, maybe I can do life size or near life size pics!

Ain't Photography Grand!

Kai Doo-uh

The reason I chose the title "Body Sellers" for my upcoming show is because it's a term I heard quite often when I was in the bar world of Thailand. Kai Doo-uh means to sell your body in Thai, many of the sex workers I photographed would use that term in a matter of fact way. The worker would often just say "I sell my body" they would usually say it with a sense of resignation and sadness. The term "Body Sellers" came from the worker, so I thought it was appropriate to use.

When choosing the negs I was unsure if I should only include nude and partially nude images or if I should include the clothed shots I made as well. Sometimes I shot the worker wearing go go uniforms and wearing numbers like they do in the bars. So I have decided that I needed to simplify my message and concentrate on 2 things, the proper expression and the body that was being sold. I wanted all nudity to be as functional and un-sexual as I could make it, the commodity of a sex worker is their bodies so thats what I showed in the pictures. Nudity also can add a bit of vulnerability to the image or callousness of the subject who is so used to be nude with customers they do not even care anymore. I wanted the expressions in the photographs to show the workers true feelings, their inner thoughts. I still might reconsider and print a few clothed or partially clothed shots, the clothes tell a tale as well. I will decide the final cut for the pics included in the next month.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Dibond Suppliers, Preparation For PhotoNOLA And More Show Thoughts

Well I know I can get this Dibond stuff now, its expensive but I can get it cut and shipped to me from the States (Washington State) for around $600 CAD. I would get 24 panels to dry mount to cut down from 2 large sheets of this material. I have another dealer in Calgary I am checking into and am also trying with a plastics and metal companies here in Edmonton. I am happy I can get the stuff, now it's a matter of the getting the exact type finish I want cut to the proper size at the cheapest cost. The dry mount Dibond panels will be 15 5/8 x 19, 3mm thick each (to hold a trimmed dry mounted 16x20 print). I can fit more than 50 mounted prints in my shipping case, if I ship only 24 down to New Orleans I will have to add foam padding of some kind to prevent damage.

I feel better now that I can get this Dibond stuff, will order it by next week. Things are coming together, I got the shipping case, I got the prints 70% done, I got several hooks out there for the aluminum Dibond panels. The only thing I have to figure out is how to hang the stuff, I will go to home depot in the coming days to look for some kind of hanging system I can put on the back of the mounted aluminum prints. All of this needs to be completed and sent out before the end of October.

I will be happy when all this is over with and I can ship this case down to PhotoNOLA then I can concentrate on my Thai trip and making photos. This show stuff is great but it's expensive and to much work, I will limit myself to galleries I can drive to for the next while. I am also going to concentrate on submissions that pay an artist fee of some kind, that way the production costs of the show are partially paid for in advance.

I am not sure if the Bangkok show is a go or not but that might be the last long distance event for a while. Got to make pictures, that's where my money must go.

Back to the darkroom now, I need to print another 2 photos tonight. I think I will try a lady worker and man worker.

Update: No luck with the metal companies moved onto 3 sign companies in search of Dibond now.

Good Night In The Dark

Its 530am now and I had a nice productive night in the darkroom printing for the "Body Sellers" PhotoNOLA photo festival show. I ended up working on and getting decent prints of 3 negs tonight, 1 man (Da), 1 woman (Bla) and 1 ladyboy(Nat) image. Some days things flow well in the darkroom some days not, today I felt rest, focused and disciplined, a good combination for a positive darkroom session.

I will have a sandwich do a bit of reading and then off to bed, I need to get up early to go mat board shopping. I was originally going to mount directly on aluminum but that proved difficult for a variety of reasons. I think I can mount onto a material that is mat board aluminum like called Dibond, this stuff was used for a great look by my friend Larry in a recent show he had and it was also used by one photographer at the Alberta Open Photo show I saw earlier this week. The material has a black core and a thin aluminum surface on the front and back, it is very light weight. I am not sure how the material is cut but hopefully I can do it with my mat cutter. I will go to the art supply store tomorrow when I get up to look for this item. Here is a link and product description:

Dibond® is the industry's leading aluminum composite material (ACM) for more than 15 years.  It is comprised of two pre-painted sheets of .012" aluminum with a solid polyethylene core. Made In USA.

Well now that I have done this blog, I can go make my sandwich and pick up my book. I am reading 3 books right now, one on a persecuted Karen family in Burma/Thailand, One on a English girl who spent time in a notorious Thai prison for drug smuggling and the third is the book mentioned earlier on the Rwandan genocide.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Old Photo Scans

Spent some time tonight looking through some old binders of negs, I am looking for images that I might include in my artist talk PowerPoint. Doubt any of these shots will make it in but I liked them for a variety of reasons, its good to look through some of this old stuff scan it and think back to those times. Memories are a mixed, confused, both good and bad flow like an never ending current.

Tool Sleng prison #1, Phnom Penh 1999
Tool Sleng prison #2, Phnom Penh 1999
Nit Thai sex worker, Bangkok 2003

Jo sex worker waiting for a customer, Thailand 2003

Grave, Hong Kong 2003
Ann freelance sex worker, Bangkok 1999
Nui, Bangkok 1996

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

20 Minute Talk

Well the UofA talk is scheduled for Oct, 16th at 3pm, but has been shortened to 20-30 minutes. I will just show a few short vids and talk a bit and it will be done, I probably could hold my breath through the whole thing. Oh well would prefer it to be an hour but it should be fun and also a good learning experience for me. I will be using their projector and laptop for this show, I just need to finish my "Families Of The Dump" slideshow and put a few images into a PowerPoint to talk about, I might also show them my "The Train Is Coming" opening night video.

I will get to do an artist talk and will get the work seen by others, raising awareness of the people I photograph. Its all good!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

3 Shows

I went to 3 different galleries to see photos today.

Kaasa Gallery "Alberta Photo Open"

I quite enjoyed the work on display, the Open still suffers from lack of people photography, lack of documentary photography, lack of nudes etc but what they had was OK. There were a couple of works I liked, including the only other real portrait a colour shot of a Burmese child. The other shot I liked was a b/w panoramic pollution photo and a abstract graffiti shot done by Jim Gaa.

On the down side I found many of the images gimmicky, 4 were printed on canvas, one on plastic etc. I have often found that people with mediocre photos quite often try to spice them up by printing them on some weird material/surface. A boring picture is a boring picture even its printed on 24 karat gold. There were 2 portraits in the show of 37 photographs, gosh are there no people photographers in Alberta? I think many times photogs are afraid to deal with people so they do the grain elevator or the coloured foamy water shots, no dangers of pissing people off by making those type pics. Why not try to create something unique? Why shoot the same shit everyone else is shooting? Some of the work on display was original and fun including a wonderful photo of a goat watching a TV called "On The Other  Side".

I think my photo of Nit was the only silver gelatin print in the show, everything else with possibly one exception was some sort of digi process. Are there no more darkroom workers in Alberta? Where are all the analog photogs? There were no pieces in the show from the only analog group in Alberta I know of, the Monochrome Guild (a group I used to belong to). Hopefully next year there will be more traditional prints both from the Guild and others. I will continue to submit to this yearly show, its fun and easy (email submissions), plus you make a little doe ($75 per print). I have had 5 prints in 3 different editions of the Open, hopefully more in the future.

AGA "British Photography Exhibit From The National Gallery Of Canada"

This is my third time through this show and I enjoyed it but not as much as the times before. I still found the Platinum prints appealing, the ones they have in the show have pinkish tones in the prints I love. The other thing that stands out for me is wonderful large Daguerreotype photo, its a large portrait maybe 8x10 inches, quite stunning to look at. I got to learn the Platinum printing process!

McMullen Gallery "Procession West" Show

I had a mixed reaction to this show, the subject matter in my opinion was commonplace and superficial, something I have seen done by dozens of photographers before. On the other hand I found several prints in the show very strong, one photograph "Pristine Light" (a picture of a tree/trees in glowing snow/light) I found to be Ansel Adams like in quality and emotional content, I am still thinking of this picture, cut 1mm off the left side of the print and it would be perfect. There were 2 or 3 other works I liked very much as well including the print "Roundhouse", a great composition and feel to it.

Overall I think I liked this show the best of the day but it was a hit and miss , several prints I felt were printed to dark or to light (hard to judge that in the darkroom, it often depends on lighting in the gallery). I also noticed burning and dodging areas that bothered me or to much contrast added to some prints (coal and soot looking prints with no middle tones), some of the other prints had the opposite effect, they seemed to grey and lacked deep whites and blacks.

On a more positive note a couple of the compositions I found surprisingly strong, photos "Collapsed Barn" and "Altas Coal Mine". Another print that was well worth the trip to the gallery was "Galatea Creek", a very beautiful work that I would love to own.

I am glad I took the time out of my busy life to visit this show, I found many things to recommend,  even thou it was a hit and miss affair the hits made it well worth seeing, check it out of you can.

I am still thinking of the wonderful snowed tree shot "Pristine Light", it was the most memorable photo of the day for me, pictures like that is what makes photography a great art form.

Leica Repair Bill

I just put the latest Leica repair bill on my credit card, $819 CAD plus shipping costs, YIKES! I repaired the older 50mm F1.4, the 21mm F2.8 and one M6 body with a meter problem (plus they did other fine tuning stuff on the equipment).  I still have a newer 50mm lens I dropped in Paris several years back that I need to repair, that will be a bigger repair of possibly $700 or more, I will hold off on fixing that until I can afford it maybe sometime in 2014 or 2015.

Leica's are great lens and cameras but repair costs are  painful. The good news is I will have the 21mm ready for use in Asia, I might also take the repaired M6 body as one of my 3 cameras. I like the wide look of the 21mm thou the 24mm F1.4 would be a much better and faster lens ($7000 new $6000 used!). I will use the 21mm as a compromise, the photo below was made with it on my last Thai trip in May.

Young baby girl in her garbage dump shack with younger brother, Mae Sot Thailand 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Families Of The Dump Music Slideshow, Early Version

Here is an low resolution early version of the music slideshow I was working on all week, it's made up of 18 pics that might be changed out yet, I am still scanning negs. I would like to include a total of 20 photos so might have to cut down on the screen time per image, its currently set at 6 seconds with a 2 second transition. I will post the final "Families of the Dump" version slideshow later, I am also working on one for the "Klong Toey Slum" photos and will probably do a "Sex Worker" version as well.

If you want to help the people in the pictures you can do so here at the "Eyes on Burma" site run by Fred Stockwell. Please help out, Fred is a reliable devoted guy who is doing his best for these families.

The wonderful moving music is "Mad World" by Gary Jules:

Update* Just watched it again, might take out the Gerry Yaum credit at the end, who cares about that? I might also lighten the pics up 10% or so, not sure how this will look on different projection systems for a artist talk.

Am now heading to the darkroom to print the 8x10 negs for PhotoNOLA, that will be such a joy after all the pain and suffering doing scans and PowerPoint, iMovie. Let me back into the dark!

The PhotoNOLA Show Advertisement Is Up

The Show advertisement is up on the PhotoNOLA site, they spelt my fake name wrong? It's Yaum, not Yuam! I chose to use a pseudonym with my photo work, my joy in photography is about creating the pics and meeting my subjects (learning about who they are) not about getting my real name on a wall. I am insignificant, the work (telling the stories of my subjects) is what matters who cares about the applause and name recognition crap, that means nothing. I am happy using the fake name but gosh you got to spell it right!, there is fake and then there is rongly spieltt phake!, everything else looks OK. I sent them the photo links for my website and blog, hopefully they can add that and correct the name errors soon. The show is still 3 months off so plenty of time to make the corrections. 

I would like to thank my New Orleans contact Thom for all the work he is doing, I will be doing a Q&A with him soon for the press release. There should be a short artist talk for the event probably on the Saturday the 14th of Decmember (details still to be finalized). I guess there is a bus taking viewers from show to show to hear the photogs talk about their work, I hope to jump on that bus and listen to a few myself.

Anyway here is the online advert:


Gerry Yuam - Bee 28 Ladyboy Sex Worker, Thailand 2012
Gerry Yuam – Bee 28 Ladyboy Sex Worker, Thailand 2012
Body Sellers: The Sex Workers Of Thailand
Photographs by Gerry Yuam
December 1 – 31, 3013
1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
New Orleans, LA 70113
Hours vary
Zeitgeist presents the work of Canadian photographer Gerry Yuam for PhotoNOLA 2013. The subjects from Body Sellers: The Sex Workers Of Thailand were documented with an 8×10 view camera in multiple locations throughout Pattaya, Thailand over a five year period.
“When I go boomsing (sex) with farang (Westerner) I smile outside and 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 sex workers of Thailand as well as to raise awareness in the viewer. I wanted to personalize the nameless sex workers everyone hears about but no one knows. 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, 2009 and 2012. Pattaya is a city three 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 sex tourists of Pattaya are predominantly male, both straight and gay, from countries around the globe. Different areas of Pattaya are devoted to various types of foreign tourists; Western customers, Middle Eastern customers, Asian customers, gay customers: all have regions in the city that cater to their specific desires.
The people in these photographs work in a variety of venues such as gogo dance bars, outdoor beer bars, as street freelancers, and as short-time bar workers. The sex workers of Thailand can make ten to twenty times in one week what an average Thai worker can make in one month. This makes the lure of Pattaya very strong for a young woman or man in rural Thailand. Often the money earned from the foreign customers is sent back up-country to the worker’s homes to help support their children, parents and sometimes entire families. – Gerry Yuam

Link to the advertisment:

Link to other PhotoNOLA photo festival shows:

Update* The spelling mistake and my website were added quickly, thanks folks for your fast work.

PowerPoint Presentation Work For Artist Talks

I spent my security work week (nightshift between security work) scanning my families of the dump negs. Scanning is hard and rather boring work, I did 6400dpi scans on most of the negs I thought might have something to them and then did 12800dpi scans on the most promising 35mm negs. After scanning I used photo shop elements to manipulate the images to look as close as I could to what I would get in a darkroom print. Then I put them into a PowerPoint slide show with music, glad I still still have more time to complete it. I have not heard when the UofA artist talk will be yet so that means I will have at least one more work week to get this done.

My off work week starts today and I will devote it to printing the PhotoNOLA show, the deadline on that is also quickly approaching. Working with a computer is difficult, not as hard as the darkroom or as fun but don't let anyone ever tell you that the photoshop way is the easy way. All types of good photography whether analog or digital involves hard work and takes devotion and passion.

The little photo slide show music montages are coming together nicely. I am doing 2 shows one on "Klong Toey Slum" and one on "The Families of the Mae Sot Garbage Dump" I have about 10 images for the Klong Toey video done and 16 of the Dump slides ready. When I do a bunch of the sex worker negs and put everything together from all 3 groups I should also have enough slides for a presentation speaking section. I want to have a nice talk over section of 30 or 40 photographs where I can tell stories about the work etc. My talk at the UofA will be 1 hour I assume that will be about the length of the PhotoNOLA talk as well. I do not need to create to long a PowerPoint lecture just yet, maybe in a few years if these talk things happen more often I can develop a 2 hour version. Below is a photograph I am using in the "Families of the Dump" music slideshow, it is a little wider composition than the earlier shot I posted on the blog of the same boy.

Child in shack window Mae Sot garbage dump,  Thailand 2013

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Free Photos

I was thinking of the best way to do up all the free photos I want to give out to people in the dump. I have made promises of both b/w and colour prints so I need to make sure I keep those promises. I have been told that in Bangkok if you bring a CD of images to certain shops they will print out small prints 4x5s at a low cost per print. If you want to make bigger prints they are more money of course. I think I will try to make 5x7 prints of a bunch of my photos including the wedding photos taken and hand them all out when I am there. Everyone should be happy, am looking forward to that. Doing it through the Bangkok shops will save money on my end as well, I am sure they can do it a lot cheaper  (and possibly better) than I could in a printer or in the darkroom. This next trip will be financially very tight as its a my second trip this year, I also have to pay for a third trip, this one to New Orleans for PhotoNOLA.

I am trying to get some extra work shifts to pay for all of this, I did get another darkroom lesson inquiry last night, I hope that pans out.

Donation Thoughts

Tonight on my security round here at work I was thinking of the best ways to donate money to the Mae Sot dump families this coming trip. Last trip I was able to donate about $200 this time around I want to try for $300. I have 3 options, I can donate to a local expat run charity that helps the families, I can donate to a local school (did that last trip) that has around 100 Burmese children students or I can donate directly to the families (just thought of another way, there is also a local free medical clinic I should be able to donate to). 

On my rounds I was thinking of how to do the direct family donations. Last time I gave rice and other food goods plus a bit of small money directly to various family groups around the dump, some homes I donated to more than once, others I missed entirely. I want to be more equal this time around and donate to everyone. When I donate directly to the families I have found its usually best to give it to the woman in charge, most times woman are much more disciplined in the use of money and do not waste in on pursuits such as drinking or gambling. If you give money to the mother of the home you can pretty well be assured she will use it on her family.

My patrol donation thought was as follows. What if I go to every shack (family home) on the dump site and give 100 baht to the mother/grandmother. I am not sure how many families are around the dump probably more than 30, maybe 40-50. At 100 baht each ( about $3.40 each) that works out to around $136+ CAD. $3.40 does not sound like a lot of money but its probably a days wages for an entire family. I can give out $140 or $150 out that way, direct to the people and donate the rest of the $300 to the school, clinic or expat charity. I will also make food donations of rice, canned fish etc. direct to the homes like I did last trip, that seemed to work out quite well. I would need to make the 100 baht donations to all the homes on the same day so no one will feel left out, I do not want anyone to have bad feelings or jealousies.

More thought needed on this, but I think its the way I might go. I would do it on the first day I return to the dump, many people know me there but many do not so it should be a happy exciting way to meet the new people and re-meet the old ones. I hope to get an extra security shift at work, a day shift during Christmas or Boxing day, with that extra money earned I can give a small Christmas present to every family at the dump.