Monday, March 31, 2014

Video: Tears Of A Butterfly

I could not resist making up another one of these vids before taking a nap tonight. The slideshow is called "Tears of a Butterfly" and shows older photos shot over the last 3 or 4 years in Klong Toey slum in Bangkok Thailand, the Burmese refugee family works at the dump in Mae Sot Thailand and at a slum in the Cambodian border town of Poi Pet. I pulled the tears name line from an old book title I was working on many years ago, it is based on a Japanese poem I loved (a haiku), I will try to find the poem and post it on this blog later. This slideshow was only a 20-25 minute production, the music is from great film Schindler's List.

Low res version slideshow of video:

Higher quality Vimeo link to video (to be posted next Sunday as I have exceeded my weekly upload mb count):

Video: Lady Sex Worker Slideshow

Here is the latest little slideshow, not the best selection of images but it was fun to put together and was a continued learning experience for Final Cut Pro X. The photos are from the the 2012 ladyboy sex worker shoot and the music is "Why" by England's Bronski Beat.

Here is the link to the slideshow:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Human Voices (Sex Worker Portraits) Video Link

Found this of tonight, these little promotional show videos do raise the profile of the work and the photographer a bit. Here is a link that demonstrates that, also some other photo sexually orientated links on the page as well. Click the related videos arrow to find the video for my opening night of the "Human Voices" Thai sex worker show.

The Train is coming video is also here, go to related videos.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Video: Nepal Slideshow

Here is another quick video slideshow I put together. This little film was made in 45 minutes, it simply called Nepal November 2013 and shows a bunch of the Nepal photos along with the great Dooley Wilson singing "As Time Goes Bye".

Here is the link:

Working On PhotoNOLA 2013 "Body Sellers" Show Video

Now that I have this new Final Cut Pro X software to work with I have been inspired to finally make up my PhotoNOLA show video. I have only a tiny bit of footage from my show so I will include it in a longer video of other shows I visited along with some PhotoNOLA 2013 opening night footage and various still images. It should be a fairly short video (1 song) but hopefully I can use it as a bit of a promotional tool, it might even help PhotoNOLAs of the future a tiny bit. I will post it on this blog, Vimeo and on YouTube. I am getting a bit faster with the software so things are flowing a bit better this time around. In the future if I am staying in Asia for extended periods I can use my laptop to edit and upload video direct from my rented room. Its pretty amazing what modern tech can accomplish these days.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Future?

With dad's illness I have been thinking a lot of the future these last few weeks. I will be 50 years old in a few days, 50 is a scary number for me, I am entering old man territory now. Somehow 30 or 40 did not bother me but now at 50 I will have less time left than time spent.

When my beautiful father leaves us I will get some money from his (and my mothers) lifetime of hard work. What to do with it? How to use it in a way that will honour him? I initially thought of buying a piece of a small property he owns but that looks like non starter. Then I thought about buying a nice condo in Thailand, but I am unsure of that plan as well. What's the use of having a pretty condo if you have no money to live on and your sitting in a guard shack in Canada watching the years pass you by.

The current plan would be to work security for a few more years at my current higher paying job (I have worked same site for 17 years), I could pay off my line of credit debt and save another 20 - 30 thousand dollars. I think I could probably do that by the time I am 53 or 54. Then I could quit my security job (something I am afraid to do) and go to Asia for 6 months to make photos. After 6 months in Asia I would return to Canada and work any kind of low wage old man job (probably low paying security) for 6 months to pay for my Canadian cost of living bills. While in Canada I could also develop the film shot in Asia and see how the work is progressing. I would repeat this process over and over, quit the low paying job in Canada after 6 months and return to make photos in Asia for the next 6 etc. With the 20 - 30 thousand in savings plus dads money I could probably keep this up for 7-10 years. I would have to live cheap in Thailand and elsewhere in Asia, eating local foods, staying in lower end rental properties and limiting my plane travel (mostly buses). If I play my cards right I could make the money last till I am 64 it 65 when I could start cashing a small a amount of RSPs I have in the bank. Canadian old age pension kicks in around 67 so I should eventually be getting a bit of money from that.

Having 7-10, 6 month Asia trips should produce a extremely large body of photographs. I could make photos in countries all over Southeast Asia, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Laos, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines etc. I have 4 freezers full of film and photo paper, not sure I would have enough to last 10 years but there should be a 5 plus year supply at least. I have a ton of 35mm, 4x5 and 5x7 and something like 600 sheets of 8x10 Tri-x I could use up. With this plan I could shoot all that film and tell many important stories.

When your depressed is probably not the best time to be making plans for your future but I need to do something meaningful with dad's money, something with purpose, something that will honour his hard work and love. I also want to completely commit myself, to throw myself forward regardless of the gallery and other rejections. I know what I have to do and screw what the arty people think, I am sure I am on the right path. Sometimes you need to be brave you need to throw caution to the wind say f-ck it and dive in head first.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Video: First Final Cut Pro Movie Clip, "Families Of The Dump" Version 2

Here is my first attempt at putting together a little movie slide show clip using Final Cut Pro X. I just pulled all these files quickly off my hard drive and spent a four or five hours putting this together on my laptop, at times it was quite a struggle to use the software. These days I am having difficulty concentrating, hopefully in the future the vids will be put together faster, stronger and with more emotional impact.

The video I chose to do is version 2 of the "Families of the Dump", I added a bit of video and converted it to black and white. I wonder if anyone but me will ever care about this project, or care about telling the story of these people, I am getting rejection after rejection to show this work. No one seems to give a shit, I feel like I have let the families down, their story is worthy, the photographs apparently aren't.

All photos and vids included in this short clip are from the May 2013 work on the project, nothing from the November 2013 trip is shown.

Here is a lower res version of the video:

Here is the slightly higher quality version:

If you want to donate money to help the people who live at the dump, here is a link:

Working With Final Cut Pro

Am starting to learn and work with a new video editing software, Final Cut Pro X. I can use iMovie and then pull that work into final cut or just use final cut from scratch. Final Cut Pro X offers lots of features that iMovie does not, so far its fairly easy to use. I am working on a short video of some of the video I shot at the dump and also doing dads funeral tribute. Another film I will start working on the coming days is the a small one on the PhotoNOLA 2013 show, not sure how that will turn out as a I have very limited footage (was busy giving an artist talk when the main viewing happened). All vids in low res form will be posted on this blog, some high quality versions also be posted on youtube and vimeo.

Here is a link to a good little intro free training youtube video from PC Classes Online:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Down, Hard To Work And A Few Photo Things

I have been so down lately,  I am worried about dad so its hard to do anything photography wise. My friends Larry and his wife Joanna have been helping out dad with some expensive health medicines, wonderful caring people. Many other photo friends have sent me kind compassionate emails, which are appreciated. Dad might be coming home today or tomorrow, at least for a while. When your family is in a situation like this you try to take things day by day and hope for the best, hope for another day tomorrow drives you through the pains of today.

On the subject of photography there are a few things of note to mention.

- My photo paper came over the last few days, the 8x10 paper 2 days ago and the 11x14 last night. I got pretty lucky GST- duty wise and will only pay $34 CAD on the lot.

- The blog advertising is going well this month, $11.79 USD dollars with a few days left. When the total reaches $100 USD maybe at the end of the year or early next year I can use that money to buy some more rolls of bulk Tri-x.

- I worked quite a few hours last night (distracting myself) on the Art Acquisition submission photos that I will send to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the deadline is April 1. I changed out two of the photos for two others, the two new shots are below. They are the same subjects as before but maybe a bit more dynamic images. Hopefully I can sell a few of the pics to the province, I could use the money to pay for airfare back to Asia, maybe in November 2014. I made a promise to my father (photo book dedicated to him) that I need to start to work towards.

Young girl playing in garbage"Families of the Dump" series, Mae Sot Thailand, 2013
Man in leprosy colony"Leprosy" series, Nepal 2013

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dad Gets To Talk To His Grand Kids

Went to visit dad today again, been there everyday for quite a while now. Today was a good day, my father got to talk to his grand kids for the first time in like 8 or 9 years, they live in Ontario and the talk was done over a phone on speaker setting. It was beautiful to see how excited he was, and to hear the kids tell him they loved and missed him. A beautiful experience all the way around, I will remember today's talk for a long long time.

It tears me up to lose my dad, am tired of crying, done so much of that I am all cried out but some good is also coming out of this, like today, a good day!

View Camera Workshops Go Well

Well today and yesterday I put in 7 or so total hours of teaching with 2 individual students. The workshops we did were both not using a 4x5 view camera with some demonstrations of an 8x10 camera as well. Everything went great and I quote "Thanks Gerry I had an awesome time!"

I managed to make $200 which I have already deposited to my credit card to help pay for my large RC photo paper order. Thanks guys the lessons are fun and easier and easier to do as I do more an more of them. As a bonus both students are are returning to do darkroom workshops, they will develop their film, make contacts, test trips and RC paper prints in the coming weeks. The students get to learn about darkroom work and I get to have some more fun teaching and make another $200 to buy more film and or darkroom supplies. This workshop thing is a great win win, I can also declare it on my taxes to prove I am at least making a tiny bit of income on my photography.

I might be raising the view camera workshop price to $120 (more physical, lots of carrying equipment) and will probably keep the darkroom at $100.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Some Fan Mail From A Nice Dedicated Photographer

Got a nice email today from a photographer in England. The email kind of cheered me up after another day of visiting the hospital, and working on a slideshow tribute video for my dad which will be played at his funeral (will post on the blog later for you all to see).

Here is the email minus the photographers name and links (for her privacy), plus my response.

Hello Gerry,

         I am … ... and i am a photographer from Manchester, United Kingdom. 
Currently, i am working on a project based around the Manchester drag scene, getting each 'queen' to turn me into them using their make-up techniques and clothing the results have been astounding! My work focuses on gender expectations and the social interpretation of gender and difference, especially as i am a biological woman dressed as a female impersonator. 

I am travelling to Thailand on 21st May and although i have been before, i would like this trip to focus on the lady boys and the sex tourism in Thailand, i hope to as you did- raise awareness about their living conditions by documenting this. I also hope to make them feel special and part of something other than the sex trade. 

I truly admire your work and follow your Youtube and blog regularly. I was in hope you could tell me how you went about meeting the people you photographed and planning. I know it may be a bit of a long shot but, i hoped to go there with some plans of who i would be meeting etc.
I would be extremely appreciative of any information and help you could give me, whether that be via email or even a Skype chat, if you have the time. 

Please see below for a link of a video promoting my current project and my website. (Although the current images are not on there as of yet.)

I am sending my condolences to you are your Father during this hard time.

Best Wishes, 

……. your project sounds exciting. I have been going to Thailand since 1996 something like 13 trips, some were extended stays in the country (1 year). I have also studied the Thai language for years and most of my photo sessions were done in Thai. I think thou even a relative newbie (1 previous trip?) to the country with limited language skills should be able to do some good work. I would be happy to help you in anyway I can. We can do both email and Skype if you would like, right now email might be better as my father is terminally ill (as you know) so I am spending as much time with him as I can. I posted your email on my blog minus your name-links…hope thats OK…

Any questions you have please feel free to ask. Seems to me your on the right track already. Treat the people with respect and kindness and your most likely to get that back in return, you might also have a bit of an easier time with the ladyboy workers being a women, it will be interesting to see how that goes. At first I was a bit uncomfortable in that world but now its second nature filled with some great people. 

Thanks Gerry

Rejection Letter From Lattitude 53 Gallery

Dear Gerry

Thank you for your submission to Latitude 53 Contemporary Visual Culture’s programming call. We were delighted to receive a large number of diverse submissions for our October deadline, and have been meeting to discuss them. On behalf of our selection committee, Board of Directors and our community, we really appreciate your consideration in responding.

All submissions have been reviewed thoroughly by a selected peer group and I regret to inform you that your specific submission was not selected for programming in our upcoming season.

The programming committee found the way that the images are framed within this proposal, and how the proposal is contextualized, to be exploitative, and disrespectful of the trans community.

Latitude 53 accepts submission proposals twice yearly and reviews these submissions on an ongoing basis. Our next deadline is 30 April 2014.

We really appreciate the time and effort you put into this application. Thanks again for submitting.



Update* I got a second rejection letter for the "Ladyboy Sex Worker" submission as well. The Latitude 53 jury (not sure who they are) hated that work, they felt it did not respect and exploited transgender people. I guess that is a matter of opinion, as other juries that showed (2 in the USA 1 in Canada) the work felt differently. I guess I need to strike Latitude 53 off future submission send outs  as we seem to disagree on issues of freedom of artistic expression-license, honesty in art and definitions of truthfulness. Sometimes as a artist and a art gallery you need to see the forest through the trees. I have limited funds for submissions so best to send work to medium range galleries that might apreciate and  accept the imagery. Still all comments both positive and negative are worth listening to and learning from, I appreciate the Latitude 53 folks thoughts.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Fathers Last Days

The last 2 weeks have been very difficult, very emotional and strangely at times rewarding. My 81 year old father is dying of pancreatic cancer. The illness hit suddenly he did not know he had a serious problem until maybe 2 weeks ago, which is in itself is a blessing because the cancer was probably growing inside him for many years. My dad and I share a birthday April 7th he will be 82 and I will be 50, the family hopes we can share this one last birthday together.

The good part of this terrible story is that because my dad is still in relatively good shape I have had the opportunity to visit him almost everyday in the hospital. We have had some wonderful conversations, I have told him what a great dad he has been and thanked him for that and have also been able to express and show my love for him. The whole family has had there chance to talk to and spend time with dad, and even thou its such a difficult and sad thing to lose him I know I will value this time we have together forever. I was able to take a week off work so I have 3 whole weeks to be with him if he can stay with us that long.

Our hope is that he can return home for a few days or a week soon, he still wants to go home, he still wants to do so much. One of the things dad told me was that he wants to make bread for the family yet, so if we can get him home and he is reasonable condition I will help him bake bread for everyone one last time. I am so grateful for the opportunity to spend time with him and speak from the heart about important things, if he had died suddenly I would never have had that opportunity, this time has been a real blessing. Dad has even given me advice about dealing with everything and we talk about stories from the past as well as plans for the future and the details of his funeral. I am so happy dad has the opportunity now to learn about how many people he affected in a positive way and that he got to hear people tell him how much they love him and how much he will be missed. To learn as your dying that you led a valuable and important life matters.

One side bonus of my photography came up today in rather a strange way. I had been making digital recordings of our conversations and also photographing dad in his room with the Leica's. Some of the nursing staff got a bit ansy with that because of the privacy rights and the explosion of social media. I had a talk 2 days ago with some of the head people (great sensitive people) of the hospital ward where I explained my purpose for doing all  the recordings and photography and they understood and helped me . My dad was originally in a 4 person noisy darkish room with only curtains separating the patients. To allow me to photograph and record in more privacy (and to protect the rights of other patients) the staff at the hospital upgraded my father free of charge to a semi private room (2 people) the room also has a big window which will allow dad to watch the elevators and other action outside (much better than a view of the curtains). The rooms window provides more light allowing me to make pictures at 200 ASA not 800 and is quieter for better audio recordings. Best of all dad is happier there as is my mom, finally my trouble making photo work has helped dad in a small way.

Considering how terrible this has all been, today was a relatively good day. Now we need to get dad safely home for a while so he can enjoy his last days out of the hospital. I hope we can share a piece of birthday cake together 1 more time on April 7th.  When dad is gone I will miss and think of dad everyday the rest of my life,  I owe everything I am to him.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Large RC Paper Order

I purchased a ton of photo paper from Ultrafine today, the final cost is  $1210 CAD including shipping. I bought 500 sheets of their 11x14 RC and 1000 sheets of their 8x10 RC. I will use the paper to do enlarged contacts of current and future work as well as work prints and for my darkroom workshops. To help pay this very large bill I will throw in the $200 from this weekends workshops (if everyone shows! and things go as planned). I will also no doubt have to pay some tax-duty at the border.

This paper is a cheaper brand than the Ilford stuff but the quality is quite good and should work very well for my purposes. As a bonus they had a 10% discount (last night was the last day), its one of the reasons I dived in head first. I should now have enough RC paper for a few years. I will probably do another 11x14 order sooner than 8x10, maybe sometime in later 2015. If this paper does not work out I will go back to Ilford in the future.

I am completely sold on doing 11x14 contacts with all of my future 35mm work, thanks Mr Salgado for helping out. 11x14 contacts allow you to see everything clearly, your successes and failures, it is a great learning tool as well as an easy way to find the best shots on a roll.

November Trip Scans 20

"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Art By Acquisition 2014

The annual "Alberta Foundation For The Arts", art by acquisition deadline is April 1. A few years back I managed to get 1 print into the province of Alberta art collection but since then no luck. Here are this years submitted photographs along with my artist statement. For those Albertans interested in making a submission I also included a link.

Artist Statement
My photography deals with telling the stories of forgotten people. I work to give my subjects a voice that they would otherwise not have.
This submission is made up of 3 different photographic series I made in November of 2013, the work is ongoing. Please visit my website for the back stories of these photographs (the blog covers 7 years).  I wrote daily as I made the pictures and later on as I processed and printed the work in my traditional wet darkroom. There are hundreds of other scans of images from these series and others on the blog. All photographs were made on film using traditional methods.

Families of the Dump” Series
The “Families of the Dump” series is something I have been working on for 2 years, it deals with refugee Burmese families who have come across the border from Burma into Thailand. In Thai they live and work at the Mae Sot Garbage dump where they can scavenge for recyclable goods. The families have built small wooden shack homes or sleep in the open under terrible conditions. The 2 works chosen from these series are a photograph of a young mother bathing her baby girl and  a photograph of a young girl playing in the garbage next to her family’s home (they did not have a house only a small lean too type structure made of scavenged wood and cloth).

Mother bathing her baby girl, Mae Sot Thailand 2013
Young girl playing in garbage, Mae Sot Thailand, 2013
 “Migrant Farmer” series
The “Migrant Famers” series was made in rural Nepal, the families who worked the land traveled from all over Nepal and lived in terrible conditions. The photograph chosen is of a tin tent type family home, the father was out working while the mother cooked for the family with her  young daughter nearby.

Mother cooking for family, Nepal 2013
 Leprosy” Series
I photographed the” Leprosy” series in a colony of homes next to a hospital in the middle of Nepal. These patients were older non contagious survivors of the disease who had lost fingers, toes and had problems with their eyesight.  The photograph chosen is of older leprosy victim with a damaged eye, as he sat on the concrete floor of his small room.
Man in leprosy colony, Nepal 2013
Street Kids” Series
The “Street Kid” series was made on the streets of Kathmandu Nepal. The kids in the series slept on the street next to an open fire, and would beg each day from Western tourists to survive. The group was made up of about 15 young boys along with 2 girls, drug use was common amongst the members. The photograph chosen is of a group of young men as they slept on the ground under a filthy blanket, it was around 6am, the daily traffic of Kathmandu was starting to hum around them.

Young boys sleeping on street, Nepal 2013

Friday, March 14, 2014


Not sure this fits on my blog but found it interesting none the less, it's a rather a bizarre story a bit distantly related to photography. There are groups of people (haikyo) that visit and photograph (they only take photographs, they take nothing from the sites) various abandoned human made structures in Japan. The first link below it for photos and vids made at abandoned love hotels, the rooms are in surprisingly good condition considering they are abandoned. It figures the garbage in Japan is neat, why not the abandoned buildings. The blog also includes some rants on marriage and other cultural Japanese things.The second link is from the original CNN story  about other types of buildings, sites visited and photographed by the Haikyo.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Goal: Photo Book Dedicated To My Father

After receving and viewing a wonderful little photo book called "Sweet Nothings" by the photographer Vanessa Winship. I have set a goal of creating comparible work with my 5x7 camera next trip and the over the coming years. I want to do vertical portraits of people in the Klong Toey slum and at the Mae Sot dump in a silmilar style. I will make my own Blurb or Pikto book that will hopefully lead to the publishing of a high quality book by a real publisher.  I want to dedicate this book to my father who is currently in poor health. I owe everything to my dad, I will devote myself to completing this project which will allow me in a very small way to say thank you father for all you have given me.

Hakkari Iraq Border, by Vannessa Winship

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

November Trip Scans 19

Another 15:

"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Leprosy" Series, Nepal 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013
"Leprosy" Series, Nepal 2013
"Families of the Dump" Series, Thailand 2013

Monday, March 10, 2014

Quote: Jonathan Wilson (Writer)

This is from the book "Marc Chagall" by Jonathan Wilson:

"If artists have one big job, it is to move what is inside to the outside, to reveal secrets, and in so doing to allow us to discover who we are."

11x14 Enlarged Contacts Continue

I am making up 11x14 contacts on all my November trip films, I will follow that with the May trip films. The only time I am not making a contact is when I obviously screwed up a film and produced nothing of consequence. I am finding these 11x14 enlarged contacts a great learning and editing tool. I can see everything up close and with a fair amount of detail by just using a hand held magnifying glass. If I need to seem minute detail I can use one of my close up loupes. The biggest advantages are that you can see the flow of the shooting and that you do not accidentally miss a neg, which can happen with the Fotovix or with scanned files.

I might even use some of these enlarged contacts in my next show, when and if that happens! When I was in New Orleans I saw a Gordon Parks exhibit than included large contacts, it was very effective. You could show the enlarged edited contact sheet (lots of squiggly lines, selections) and the finished print beside it, each in their own frame.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Two Workshops Scheduled

I have 2 workshops scheduled for the 22nd and 23rd of March, both are camera workshops. I might also be doing a darkroom session in the coming weeks. These things are fun and a learning experience for the student as well as myself. As a side bonus I make a bit of money to help pay for photo related things, not sure what I will use this $200 for but it will probably be either film or 11x14 RC paper for enlarged contacts.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Print: Man Sleeping With Flies In Dump

I made this photo early one morning when I photographed in an area of new dump inhabitants, These people had no bamboo-wooden shack like most of the others but instead slept in the open or under flimsy lean-twos or mosquito netting.

This is version #2 of the print on grade 3 1/2 version #1 was made with filter 2 1/2. There is a fair amount of burning using  a mask and cards and a tiny bit of dodging. I will wash and let both prints dry before proceeding with version #3. I need to get some sleep tonights darkroom session was around 10 hours.

Version #2 Man sleeping with flies in dump "Families of the Dump" series,  Thailand 2013