Thursday, March 5, 2015

Photo Story: Three Children In The Dump

I do not believe I have done a photo story on this image before. It was made in May of 2013 in the Mae Sot garbage dump. The picture is of 3 young Burmese children. Doo-Aye is in the middle her brother on the right, I am not sure who the little girl on the left is. The photo was made in very bright and hot sunlight causing extreme shadows. I also included my rather ominous shadow in the lower right corner. Not sure how much this harsh light works (usually shoot portraits in open shade) but it does help portray the difficulties and the starkness (moonscape?) of these children living environments.
Three Burmese children in the Mae Sot Dump, Thailand 2013
The photos was made with my Linhof 4x5 2000, Tri-x and a 150mm lens. Next trip to the dump I plan on shooting the 5x7 Linhof extensively. I will be forced to use a dark cloth bag with that camera which will be a pain in the butt.  I need to use up my extensive supply of 5x7 Tri-x before it becomes too outdated, so next trip its the 5x7 camera. One of the advantages of the 4x5 2000 is that it has a reflex finder gadget on it so I do not need the dark cloth.

Back to the photograph, these children became friendly with me (Doo-Aye and her brother) and would follow me around when I photographed. You can see them in several of my YouTube and Vimeo vids laughing and joking. Their older sister was the bride in my bride pictures from the dump, she married at 15. I became closer to this family than any other during my time there, the mother and father were also subjects. They invited me to their daughters wedding etc.

My last trip to the dump was November of 2013. Being away for so long (to be with dad) I feel a bit like I have abandoned them. I need to get back to the dump as soon as I can this year. I will take either a long trip 6 months? or a short trip 7 weeks depending on what work says. I want to do more hundreds more photos in this style for the book dedication I promised my father. The idea of the book is to photograph children living in poverty and telling their stories I will use view cameras to make the pictures, it might take me 5 or 10 years to complete this project. Hopefully I can get it done sooner but I need to do it right, and make strong imagery.

It is important in these future portraits to know more about my subjects, their names, ages etc. Which means I need to work on my language skills, if I am photographing Burmese, Khmer, Laos, Thai or other children I need to at least be able to ask them or their parents basic questions in their own languages. I need to tell their important stories and to humanize them as best as I can. Adding names, ages, locations, histories to their portraits will help do that.

Dad always worried about children so I feel a book dedication on a project like this is right on the mark. I told dad 2 times I planned to do this and he agreed. Most times he would tell me not to bother or its too expensive or too much work etc. But the 2 times I mentioned it to him he just agreed silently. Now its a go, now I need to start to fulfill that vote. I will shoot this project along with several others in the coming years. What to call it? "The Lost Children'? maybe something like that.