Thursday, April 30, 2015


Thinking of 2 things involving 3s.

1) There are 3 more possible photo video stories I have footage of. I am not sure if I will edit these into full YouTube HD vids but I will work on them next week when I am doing night shifts and see what happens.

2) After reading about Fazel Sheikh's trilogy book series I wanted to try to do something similar. The recent story I posted about the murder of the bar worker Pook has re-lit my interest in returning to that world and photographing. These workers stories need to be told from their perspective. I want to give them a voice. I have been thinking of doing 3 unique/distinct photo series related to prostitution in Asia. Each of the 3 projects would be a series on the sex worker scene. One of the 3 would be "Lost Innocence", a photo series I have spoke about extensively on this blog, the other 2? Not sure.

Quote: Fredrick Douglas (Social Reformer, Orator, Abolitionist, Writer, And Statesman)

"I had as well be killed running as die standing."

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Camera: A Fun Camera To Shoot?

For fun I am looking at a new camera, a camera I have nothing really that close to. The camera is the Fuji G617. A 6x17 medium format camera with a 105mm F 8 lens on it. Focusing is zone focusing (do not really like that), you compose through the wacky external finder mounted to the top of the camera. The only thing I have close to this would be my Hasselblad Xpan 35mm panoramic (less quality, smaller film size). The used price for this camera varies quite a bit from $900 to around $2200 USD, there is a nicer unit now selling for $1400 USD.

One roll of 120mm film gives you 4 exposures with this camera : )).

Note* There is also a newer more expensive GX 617 version of this camera. It has pricey interchangeable lens, a 90mm, 180mm and a 300mm.
Fugi G617

Thoughts Of Dad

I have been to dads grave 5 times since he passed away. Some how thou it does not seem real to me. I expect to go to his house and spend time with him as he is cooking some fresh breads or making some cabbage rolls. I expect him to be there smiling and talking telling me some story about something or other that happened to him when he was growing up. I cannot get my head around the fact that he is gone, that we will never talk again, that I will never be able to kiss him on the forehead and feel the warmth of his body.

It's all so unreal, this can't have happened.

Link: Photo Video Story "Burmese Baby Boy In Dump Shack" Newest Upload To My YouTube Channel

Here is the Burmese baby boy photo video story, this time in HD, uploaded to my YouTube channel. This photo is from my "Families of the Dump" photo project.

Here is the link:

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Link: Buy Some SENSITIZED Kodak Paper On Ebay, Circa 1937

Love this, $59 USD for 12 sheets of 5x7 Sensitized Kodak paper. This paper expired in 1937, 78 years ago! Wonder what the chances are this stuff is fogged : )). The package actually looks pretty pristine, better than some of brand new boxes of paper I have in my darkroom. Something to buy, put in your collection to look at, never to be opened and used.

It is sort of sad in a way, this paper never fulfilled its destiny. It never got the chance to have a great photograph printed on it. I know it is silly but I always feel a responsibility to my film. It is like I owe the film the chance to become an outstanding negative. Sort of my duty when I buy the stuff. : )) I wonder if any painter ever felt that responsibility to their canvas and paints.
eBay Link


Photo Idea: Diary Photo Book Project

I have been thinking quite a bit of doing a written non fiction book, a diary photo book project. I am not sure how to proceed with this latest photo idea. Should I just use blog entries in book form? Or should I write the book more passionately, more detailed and heartfelt. Sometimes I censor myself online, what if in the book I go all out, let myself be totally free. That would no doubt make for a better finished product. I could incorporate photos, stories from the shooting, more personal feelings, emotions etc. Going all out might make it too personal for me to publish (assuming someone would want to do that). Sometimes total honesty can be difficult!

More thought required on this. What I need is a title! I am good at getting the title down. Maybe when I have a title in mind, everything else will fall into place. I always thought of writing a book. Now that I have been doing this blog for 8 years, it somehow seems achievable. Just like public speaking became easier with the artist talks, writing does not seem quite as foreign or difficult after the blog.

Link: Photo Video Story "Doo-Aye In The Dump" Newest Upload To My YouTube Channel

Here is the Doo-Aye photo video story, this time in HD, uploaded to my YouTube channel. This photo is from my "Families of the Dump" photo project.

Here is the link:

Links: Pook Bar Worker Murder Case

Here is a typical Thai bargirl story that goes all wrong. The victim Pook was 31 years old, and supporting a child and probably her family back home. Many girls from rural areas of Thailand come to the big city of Bangkok to work the bars to help their children and families. Pook was murdered cut up and placed in a suitcase before being thrown in a river. Tragic story, that is repeated quite often in Thai. Here mom who she was sending money to reported here missing, why not Pook's friends or the bar she worked at?

Pook was older, 31, so was probably more desperate to find a customer. Girls in the bars need to fill a quota of customers each month, maybe she took the wrong man to fill her quota. As you get older it gets harder and harder to work, harder to find foreign men that are interested. All she was trying to do was make money to help her family. Most girls who work the bars come from the countryside, in Issan province which is the poorest area of Thailand. Not sure if that was the case here but I would not be surprised if it was.

Stories like this, and the memories of the people I met in that world compel me to go back and continue to tell those important stories. How many other girls working the bars are murdered and then forgotten?

I do not understand the brothel world (where local Thai, Cambodian, Burmese, Laos men go for bought sex) that well but from what I have seen, read and watched, that scene is even worse than Pook's. I wanted to do portraits for "Lost Innocence" of the brothel workers.  In that world the girls are younger, even more vulnerable. They are truly anonymous, forgotten and easily replaced. Scary shit all the way round, those stories have to be told, THEY NEED TO BE TOLD!

YouTube Video Of Pook With Customer

Man Wanted Over Nana Plaza Bar Girl Murder
Published by Stickboy BKK


BANGKOK: -- Police have today released CCTV images of a white male they wish to question in connection with the brutal murder of a 31 year old Thai woman.

On November 9th it was reported that the cut up body of a woman had been found in a suitcase thrown into the Mae Klong River. The killer had mixed the victims body parts with animal meat in an attempt to disguise the human remains.

Investigators finally linked the body in the suitcase to a Soi 4 bar worker from Si Saket, naming the mother-of-one as Miss Lakshmi or “Pook”, after a payment due to be sent to her family on Nov. 12th failed to arrive leading her mother to report the disappearance of her daughter to the police.


Miss Lakshmi and the white male suspect were last seen leaving Nana Plaza just before midnight on November 1st, where they took a taxi to Kanchanaburi. Police have questioned the taxi driver and are also studying CCTV from the area to try and piece together the couples movements in a bid to find further clues and witnesses.

If you recognize the well built white male in the photos with “Pook” or have seen him, please contact the police.


Update: Here is an update on the investigation into this terrible crime.

Monday, April 27, 2015

57 Subscribers? Who Knew!

Just found some interesting stats as I was uploading my second photo video story. My YouTube photography channel has 57 subscribers and 9867 total views. That's not half bad! I guess I should be spending more time doing quality videos etc. I was basically just screwing around with the channel, maybe I should make more of an effort to do things right.

Now that I have a better mike system and that I am not so shy about standing in front of the camera I can do in the field videos and more intensive darkroom vids. I am also planning to do a bunch more of the photo video stories in the coming years. Kind of wish I had shot some video when I was shooting the sex worker on white portrait work, and had some video of my early documentary photo projects. Maybe in the future I can do location vids in places like Klong Toey slum, the Muay Thai gym and with the Families in the dump.

Something to think about! Thanks so much to the 57!

Note* If you want to visit my YouTube and Vimeo photo channels, all you have to do is click the links on the upper left side of this page.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Video: Photo Video Story #3 "Burmese Baby Boy In Dump Shack" From "Families of the Dump."

Here is my third photo video story "Burmese Baby Boy In Dump Shack". I will post this video in HD form next week on YouTube, link to follow.

Video: Photo Video Story #2 "Doo-Aye In The Dump" From "Families of the Dump."

Here is my second photo video story "Doo-Aye In The Dump". I will post this video in HD form next week on YouTube, link to follow.

Links: Museum of Contemporary Photography MOCP Submission Page

I found a great submission link at the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College in Chicago. They ask for portfolio submissions, it is very difficult to send in real life portfolios but they have a easy to do online process way to do it. You can upload your photos/projects directly on to the site for the museums jury people. Portfolio reviews are done monthly. I plan on submitting work from a number of projects. I love these online submission processes, so easy, so efficient. In the future if I am living in Asia for extended periods I can easily submit my digi work as well (am thinking of doing a digi project on sex worker portraits).

1) "My Fathers Last Days"
2) "Families of the Dump"
3) "Thai Sex Worker"
4) "Muay Thai Boxer"
5) "Klong Toey Slum"


Photo Idea: Ring Flash Portraits

I was thinking of doing the "Lost Innocence" brothel worker series using a Hasselblad 6x6 camera and ringflash, that is still a go, but I am thinking of expanding the idea. What if I did portraits of people int he dump like that, or muay thai boxers etc. I could create a series of portraits through out Thai using the blad and ringflash. I like the harsh look that direct flash creates. That type of negative in combination with the higher contrast printing I can do with the Durst 1200, should make for some pretty strong, stark images.

If you like a technique, if it says what you want to say with your photography, why not use it to the limit, push things to the edge. In my minds eye I can see a gallery filled with those types of portraits, I think it would very compelling.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Finally Got The HD Version Of Video Story Onto YouTube

I finally got the HD version of the "The Bride and Groom" video story onto YouTube. Gosh it took forever to upload this thing, had several false starts but now its done. I am quite happy with the overall feel of the piece, thou I think I need to improve the jerkiness of the closeups. The sometimes un-smooth closeup movements is probably the result of moving in so tight on a small print combined with the so so quality of my video tripod head.

I want to make more of these things in the future. This particular video was shot at Larry's gallery on 124 Street in Edmonton but I could probably rig up a wall in my home or mom and dads home that would work as well. Video stories thou a bit of work are a great educational and promotional tool, probably worth the extra effort and probably worth coming out of my anonymity from behind to in front of the camera.

When I shot this video I also did 4 or 5 other prints, so there might be 1 or 2 more being posted in the coming weeks. These video stories are sort of mini artist talks on video.

As a side note, after making these videos I saw how fat I had become. I decided to get off my lazy butt and exercise more as well as watch my diet. I will be returning to Asia possibly in 5-8 months, I need to get into better physical condition by that time. Thanks video stories for my inspiration! You scared me straight!

Update* I think I will use these photo story vids when I make submissions to galleries or for grants etc. Submitting them in link or entire file form should help explain where I am coming from and what I am trying to do with my work to various submission juries. It is interesting how all this stuff feeds on each other, it is all interconnected, one thing leads to another and back to the first then back out again. I do a video story, which helps promote things, educate and inspire and on seeing the vids helps me get back in better photography shape. I make more photos where upon I make another video story of the new work and the circle continues onward, never ending.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Link: YouTube Channel Video Story "The Bride and Groom" Upload

Here is a link to the first Video Story "The Bride and Groom" on my YouTube channel. I made a few minor changes, the title page, and the end links page, I extended and changed up a bit. Overall I am quite happy the way this turned out, using the mike system I bought recently really enhanced the quality of the video. Sound is such a huge factor when your doing film. I am glad it turned out as nicely as it did. Next time I might shorten it up a bit, think it would work better at about 3 minutes in total length.

I did up 3 or 4 more of these things, but am not sure my story telling is very good in those. I will have to see how it goes in the the editing process, might eventually post another 1-3 vids. Keep tuned to this channel! : ))

Here is the link:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Talking Points

During my ride today I was thinking how to improve my artist talks. I think If I break it down in my mind to a few key things, I can do a entertaining, comprehensive and yet short informative talk. It might go something like this:

1) Why I love documentary photography.
2) Obligation to my subjects.
3) Thanks to the group.
4) History of the project.
5) A few photo stories.
6) Info on the blog, the website and YouTube channel.

Todays Ride

Wow was it cold today on the bike. I went down to dads grave and spoke with him, cried a bit. Going there was cold but then I started to warm up about 20 minutes in. When I was with dad I cooled down and was wet from sweat. The trip back home, UPHILL, was brutal in the wind. With the cold sweat I never warmed up again. I kept telling myself "IT'S FOR THE PHOTOGRPHY!, IT'S FOR THE PHOTOGRPHY!" By the time I got to my house my feet were numb with cold, it reminded me of playing hockey at outdoor arenas as a kid, the feet felt similar. Guess I need to dress warmer next time I try this.

Did 21.6 Km and biked for 1 hour 9 minutes. Not bad! Legs feel very heavy now. Got to do a bath then its off to bed, working 4 more 12 hour night shifts this week.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Todays Workout

I had a bonus day off today (back on nights tomorrow) so decided to used it productively. I got on the bike, fought through the wind for 1 hour 48 minutes and did 29.1 km's. Edmonton has many biking trails in the river valley, I spent sometime exploring them as well as negotiating the quieter Edmonton streets.

One of the things I like least about Thailand is the noise and pollution. Doing something like I did today, quietly riding in nature down by the river is pretty much impossible in Bangkok. It was so nice go biking today, tiring but nice! To just be by myself with own thoughts working out was very rewarding. Next time I go on the road I plan on taking one of my 6x9 Fuji medium format cameras and making a few pictures. Then it will be a double whammy of joy, nature and photography.

Today was a very nice afternoon!

Video: #1 Photo Video Story, "The Bride and the Groom" From "Families of the Dump."

Here is probably the final edit for my first video story. This story is about "The Bride and the Groom" photograph from the "Families of the Dump" photo project. It was made in May of 2013 with a Leica M6, 28mm lens and Tri-x rated at 200ASA. The print is hanging int the "Louie Gallery on 124th" street here in Edmonton, check it out while you can! The print is a 16x20 silver gelatin (darkroom) photo in a 20x24 black metal frame.

This video is a low resolution version, I will probably put a HD copy on YouTube later on. To make this little film I used 2 sound sources (mike on me and camera mike), a small Sony HD camera with video tripod and edited it with iMovie in my Macbook Pro laptop.

Note* I am the fat guy in the black shirt. I got to bring that tonnage down!! 6 months till I will be making more photos. Extra weight equals limited photography, less weight and more fitness equals better photography. Tomorrow I have a bonus day off, I will get back on the bike and try to burn some calories as well as build some strength.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Vermilion Student Talk

We had 32 people into see the show today, Larry and I both did short artist talks. The group was made up of 30 arts students (high school grades 10-12) and 2 teachers from Vermilion Alberta. The talks went pretty well, Larry and I split the group into 2 and each took turns talking about our photographic series. I spoke to my groups about "Families of the Dump", I also had 2 pictures from the "My Fathers Last Days" photos on display.

I think I muffed the first talk a bit but the second one went smoother. More practise needed at these "Artist Talk" things, but they continue to get better and better. The arts teacher came up to me after and thanked me for my passion, just like last time when we had the NAIT students in. That teacher spoke to me in the same way, using similar words in pretty much the exact same place in the gallery. Both teachers were 30ish Canadian born women of Asian heritage who basically said the same thing to me "Thank you so much for talking about your work with such passion." Go figure! Guess it's some some kind of synchronicity thingy. Either that or I am REALLY PASSIONATE about my photography : )).

Another repeat was the percentage of the art students that were female. I did not count but I think there were between 5-7 males in this group of 30 students. Every time I have done an artist talk to groups of students (this is my 4th), the women have outnumbered the men by a large margin.

Poem: "Evolution" By John Banister Tabb (1845-1909)


Out of the dusk a shadow,
Then, a spark;
Out of the cloud a silence,
Then, a lark;
Out of the heart a rapture,
Then, a pain;
Out of the dead, cold ashes,
Life again

Monday, April 20, 2015

Day 1 Of Getting Into Shape

Today was my first work out day, did some walking and also a short bike ride. I bought some new bike shoes. I lost my old shoes, they were pretty beaten up and a size too small so decided to buy a new pair. These new shoes cost $125 but are quite nice, hopefully I can get 10+ years use out of them like the last ones. I also got some passes to the local public pools and gyms. I plan on doing training in their fitness facilities as well as swimming pools. I love to swim so getting back doing that should be fun. I also plan to pick up my workouts during my security night shifts.

The most important thing is to watch my intake of calories. Less garbage food, less empty, useless calories. Little by little over the next 6 months I will get into better shape before I return to Thai. If I improve my weight and conditioning I should be able to photograph better. More energy, less weight, more flexibility should all allow me to carry my heavy equipment longer, and deal with the heat and the trying conditions better. Instead of giving up and quitting after 5 hours shooting, maybe I can do 6 or 7 hours of continuous work.

Fat boy is going down! 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Fat Boy Needs To Get Into Shape

After looking at myself in the photo videos I did today, I decided I need to get off my ass and work out. I am getting way too heavy. This extra tonnage will interfere with my ability to make the pictures I want to make.

Time to get into shape. I need to watch my diet and do regular exercise. The plan as of now is to return to Asia in around November of 2015, that gives me 6 months or so to improve my physical condition. Tomorrow I will get out the bike and start working down that path. I will need to work out more during my night shifts as well as control what I eat. I plan on buying a gym pass in the coming days as well.

Fat boy needs to disappear! In 6 months I should be able to make some positive progress.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Quote: Donald McCullin

"Photography for me is not looking, it's feeling. If you can't feel what you're looking at, then you're never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Diego Velazquez (1599-1660)

Was reading a book on Edouard Manet an artist I greatly admire and got turned onto the painter Diego Velazquez. Valazquez was a Spanish artist that inspired the likes of Dali, Picasso and Manet. He had a very realistic style and created strong portraiture. I need to spend more time reading about his life and studying his work.

María Teresa (1638–1683), Infanta of Spainby Diego Velazquez
Juan de Pareja (born about 1610, died 1670), by Diego Velazquez
Head of girl by Diego Velazquez

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Links: Sebastiao Salgado Vids And Filming Saturday

I am going to go down to the Louie Gallery on Saturday and record my film story videos. I plan on doing at least 3 different short films of prints hanging in the gallery for the current "Families of the Dump" series. Eventually these 3 vids will go on to my YouTube channel for the world to see. It will be the first time I really come out from behind the camera to face the camera eye to eye. These things should turn out pretty well, I have a HD video camera and proper sound and editing equipment. The film stories should be at least semi pro looking in quality.

These Sebastiao Salgado videos sent to me by an online friend James, are the inspiration to do the my own video stories.

In Search Of "The Great Photograph"

Most photographers who devote their lives to their craft create competent work, some make very good even strong photographs. Creating a truly great image thou, that is the dream many of us share. A photograph that transcends time and lives on long after those who have made it and those that are in it are long since dead. Something that speaks to the whole world with power, strength and meaning.

I want to create a photograph like that before I die. A truly great work that would tell a noble truth of what it is to be a human being. A photograph that will have a universal appeal and understanding regardless of country, language, culture or religion.

It will probably never happen but I will try the rest of my life to create such an important image. Heck what else I got to to do? Haha, go for it boy! It is better to live life to the fullest and swing for the fence. Chasing down our dreams, pursuing near impossible goals is what true living is all about.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Another Artist Talk, Show Stuff Update

Today I went down to the Louie Gallery on 124 street to pick up the dad prints from the "Life in the Margins" Exposure Photography Festival exhibition. I found out that there will be another talk on the 21st for 25 high school students from Vermilion Alberta. I am working that day but might drop by for an hour or so to hear Larry and do a bit of talking myself.  There was also a talk that I did not attend for graphic arts students which was held at the time of dads funeral. Larry just told me today about it, he did not want to disturb me during those very difficult days. That makes 4 artist talks for the show, 2 that I attended plus the opening night stuff.

I also found today that I sold an additional 2 magazines that were at the gallery. One was bought by a friend from one of my photo clubs and another I think was bought by a relative. Gosh I need to invite more family and friends to these things, then they feel guilty enough to buy my stuff! Kidding aside, the 3 mags I sold will probably cover about  1/2 the costs of producing all the copies. The blurb mags turned into a rather successful part of the exhibition. I am glad I made the extra effort to get them done.

Hopefully I can go to this newest talk. I quite enjoy public speaking now, especially when it involves my photography.

Impossible Project Black And White Film

Found this rather interesting, some black and white instant films from the impossible project folks.

Impossible Project: SX-70 And 600 Black And White Film

Leonardo Self Portrait

Found this fascinating and honest self portrait in one of my older books, " The Art of the Italian Renaissance".

Self Portrait Leonarda Da Vinci 1512

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Photo Story: Old Man In Leprosy Home

This photograph was made in November 2013 my last trip to Nepal. The old man is in his room at a leprosy centre. He had a large barren concrete room to himself with these big wooden doors. When I approached him and asked to take his picture he was crawling on the floor with his pants half way down. This is one of those moments where your not sure you should take any pictures. The man was ok with photography and allowed me to proceed. I thought it was important to document his life so I made this photograph.

Tech details: Leica M6, 21mm F2.8, Tri-x exposed at 200ASA, development 12 minutes 30 seconds in D-76 2/1 at 20C.

Old man at home for leprosy patients, Nepal 2013

Quote: Hillary Clinton

 "Human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights once and for all."

Photo Story: Ann Freelancer

This photo was made during my 10 month stay in Bangkok in 1999. At that time I was doing photographic portraits of street beggars and eventually started to photograph the freelance sex workers in Bangkok. These workers would sell themselves to Western sex tourists in one of the main bargirl/boy/ladyboy sex buying areas of the city.

Ann was a woman I did not know well but she struck me as fearful of the world she was involved in. I remember that night, the Bangkok street was dark noisy and dirty, all of a sudden I saw Ann standing in the open wearing a beautiful dress. She was lit by a strange light and had this sort of shell shocked look to her. She seemed so strange in that environment, the street was so noisy, polluted and ugly but there was this beautiful woman standing there, angel like.

Later on I made a small b/w contact print to give Ann but I never saw her again. Another poor girl who entered the sex selling world, probably to help her family. What happened to her? Did she continue working the streets? Did she leave Bangkok? Did she get sick? I do not know. I hope she left the scene, found happiness in her life.

The feeling I see in Ann's expression is why I stopped photographing the sex scene in Asia, its a tough brutal scene, it wears you down. burns you out. Eventually I could not take it anymore, it was just too ugly. I might be going back into that world again, but I need to toughen myself up again first.

Tech Details: Mamiya M6 with flash, 80mm lens at around F11, Tri-x exposed at 200ASA. Development HC110-B, some reticulation problems from Bangkok water. This negative was developed in a Bangkok Thailand apartment washroom darkroom.

Ann freelance sex worker, Bangkok Thailand 1999

Photo Story: 4 Laotian Friends

This photos was made when I was up in a rural area of Laos a few years back. I was photographing the trees and greenery when these 4 boys wandered down the path I was on. I asked the boys to pose for me (Thai and Laos languages are similar) and made this shot as a result. As I recall they were all around 14-15 years old, nice friendly young men.

In the future I want to do more of this kind of everyday people portraiture with the large format cameras. August Sander was able to find beauty and humanity doing large format portraits during the 20s and 30s in Germany, why can't I do the same in Asia?

Tech Details: Linhof 4x5 with Tri-x exposed at 200ASA. 150mm lens at around 1/15 or 1/30 at F8-F11. I used a reflector in this photograph but am not sure how much it affected the lighting. A Pentax spot meter placed the faces on Zone VI.

4 friends in Laos jungle area, Laos 2012

Photo Story: Startled Boy

I photographed this young boy my last trip to Bangkok in November of 2013. Migrant workers come to Thailand from neighbouring countries like Laos, Burma and Cambodia looking for work in construction etc. The boy was living in this little migrant worker shanty town building near my hotel in Kong Toey. I think I surprised him because he came around the corner from his room and looked at me like I was an Alien or something. Life must be very difficult for these displaced children. I do not not know this child's entire story but I believe he came from Cambodia to be with his mother and father whro worked in Bangkok. Does he go to school? Does he have any chance to escape the poverty of his parents? Doubtful.

Tech Details: Leica M6 with 35mm lens. Tri-x at 200 ASA developed 12 minutes 30 seconds in D-76 2/1, 20C.

Young Cambodian boy in migrant housing area, Bangkok Thailand  2013

Poem: Pong

Smiles in far off places
Two to one
Joined together
Long lived
Pulled apart
Found once more

Passed moments
Alone and empty
Tick tock, tick tock
Memories lost
Missing trust
Forgotten feelings

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Poem: Muay Thai

Young subtle and sleek
Tough, fun, hard yet soft

Small, dirty and dark
Moist cloth and smelly garbage

Purpose with pain
Pride then money

End game
Broken and lost
Help, purpose and love

Friday, April 10, 2015

My 6x9 Camera's, Their ALIVE!

Just dug out my old 6x9 Fuji 690 cameras. I own 2 versions of the 6x9, the 65mm and the 90mm. I have never used the 90mm in Asia but did use the 55mm in Klong Toey slum back in 2010. The 6x9s neg dimensions are beautiful, they are the same size as a 35mm and 5x7 negative. With this ratio of neg you get a longer horizontal, a rectangle photograph.

In the past I was unhappy with the sharpness I got with 6x9 Fuji 65mm so I put the cameras aside. Recently I did some Internet searches on the Fuji 690 and many people claim the 90mm lens version is extremely sharp, one online commentator even said the lens was too sharp (if that's possible).

I have therefore decided instead of buying more gear to resurrect these cameras, run some film through them and see where that leads. I will also try to shoot pushed (800ASA) 120 Tri-x film. It would be nice to have the larger negative at times, especially for close up portrait work.

If I get sharp negs with the 6x9s (Texas 35mm), I will use one or possibly both in Asia next trip. No need to buy new gear!! I have so much old gear to rediscover! The Klong Toey slum portrait below was part of my "The Train Is Coming" exhibition at the Kaasa gallery in the Jubilee auditorium a few years back.

Both the Fuji 690 and the Leica M6 are rangefinder style cameras, allowing for low light focusing and quiet shutters (no flopping mirrors).

My 6x9 Fuji 690 with 90mm lens and my Leica M6 with 28mm lens.
Fuji 6x9 65mm (flash) part of Klong Toey slum series , Bangkok Thailand 2010

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Beauty Of Man

Looking through the 2011 work of Fazal Sheikh in his book "Portraits" is inspiring.

"Portraits" By Fazal Sheikh

FS captures so much beauty, so much humanity with his photographs. He can photograph someone in a refugee camp in Africa who is living under the most difficult conditions and yet capture their true selves.

I need to try to make those type of pictures. I have always felt that mankind is the most difficult and most inspiring subject for my photography. Whether I am photographing a ladyboy in Pattaya, a brothel worker in Laos, a Burmese child in Mae Sot or a Cambodian migrant in Bangkok I need to try and communicate their inner beauty, their true humanity as Fazal Sheikh does.

It is important to throw yourself into those worlds, to become indebted in those cultures, and then make photos of those lives. To do be able to create successfully I need time in those cultures, 3 months 6 months 1 year in a row. I need to become one with my subject.

Showing the beauty of mankind in your photographs, what a worthy way to spend what's left of my life. To be able to do that even to a small degree is such a joyful thing for me, it brings me so much internal piece and happiness.

Anyway thinking of the possibilities while spending my nights in a security guardhouse is exciting. I need to move beyond the thinking/planning and start the doing. Later this year that will happen.

2 Child Portraits by Fazal Sheikh

No More Gear

Decided against getting both the blad 120mm lens and the Plaubel Makina 67. I have enough gear, I should be able to find what I need amongst all the cameras and lens I have bought over the last 30 plus years. People get to hooked on gear, I have gotten to hooked on photo toys, time to end that cycle.

I have many cameras, I have 4 freezers loaded with film. I am running out of life! It is not the time to buy more cameras or lens, it is the time to create, the time to make the photographs is now. I will use my money to pay for airfare to Asia, for food, for accommodations, and for the freedom to create.

Enough of this buying more gear crap!

I plan on testing with 3 different camera systems in the next few weeks. I am trying to find the right bokeh. I will work with he Hasselblad with 80mm at f2.8, the Linhof 5.7 and 210mm lens at F5.6 and the Fuji 690 90mm 6x9 camera at F3.5.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

MacLaren Art Centre Rejection Note

Another day, another rejection. Fair enough, does not fit the programming.

Hello Gerry,

Thanks for submitting your most recent documentary project to the MacLaren Art Centre. The series documenting your late father’s battle with pancreatic cancer was very moving for the curatorial team.

Our exhibitions calendar, unfortunately, is full through 2018 and the series doesn’t fit with our current programming. However, we wish you all the best in finding an exhibition site for it or a potential publisher! 

My colleagues join me in wishing you all the best,


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Plaubel Makina 67

I did not buy the 120mm blad lens, am currently researching a new possible camera buy. I am looking for something with a great bokeh at the widest aperture. The number one contender at present is the Plaubel Mina 67. I need to do more research on this machine but it's a possibility. There are 2 versions of the camera a 55mm F4 and a 80mm F2.8 both running in price from $1300 to $2500 depending on the cameras condition.

This camera is very compact rangefinder design that is relatively light. It might be the ideal camera to carry in a pocket in Asia, allowing 120mm handheld 6x7 neg portraits. I would be interested in this camera for 2 reasons, the  reputed great bokeh and how small it is to carry when the lens is retracted. I am frightened by the cost, and do not really want to buy another camera.

Plaubel Makina 67

Dad's Name

I had a new idea regarding the book dedication thing. Why not just forget the dedication entirely and give my father credit for the entire book? I could put dads name on the spine and front cover of the book as the creator of everything, the taker of the photos. I am not sure if it is ethical or even possible but if it pays tribute to my father, why not try! Dad would get his name shown on the book much more prominently, maybe as many as 3 times. This idea would allow him to remembered, his name would not be forgotten. The subjects of the portraits would also treated properly, their stories told.

Everything might work out better that way. I need no personal credit or applause, who cares about that silly stuff. My dream would be to go to a library 10-15 years from now and see my fathers name on a book jacket, his name would live on, a part of him would not die. It could be a small thank you to him from his son. Am not sure a real publisher would go for this idea, maybe even illegal but it's worth trying.


Today is dads and my birthday, woke up 3 1/2 hours early, could not sleep. I had 2 dreams about dad, in the second one he had fallen into his bathtub as he was dressing and I reached down and pulled him out before trying to dry him with a towel. Dad was getting dressed to help me outside even thou he was already quite ill when he lost his balance and fell in. That was my fathers personality always try to help his kids, even when he was terminally ill.

I wish I could talk to him today, wish I could say happy birthday to him. This all seems so wrong. I called mom, will go pick her up at 330pm and then go visit dads grave before my work night shift. I should have been a better son to him while he was alive, now it's too late.

Monday, April 6, 2015

50, A Difficult Year

Well my 50th year of life was a very difficult one, it is the year I lost my beautiful father. Here's hoping 51 is a better one, a year in which I can make some important photographs and tell the stories of some important lives through my photography.

"Happy 83rd birthday dad, my world is so much smaller without you." Gerry

Shriek Of Joy

This talk of found money has me thinking back to something that happened back in the Mae Sot dump. I am not sure if I have written about his before or not but here it goes.

It was in November of 2013 during my second series of trips to the dump that this little event happened. I was photographing a group of people when all of a sudden there was a shriek of joy (yes a shriek!, a loud crying type yell). I looked over and one of the middle aged male workers was waving a 20 baht note in the air. He had been looking through a bag he found and in this ladies bag was the 20 baht note (around 70 cents Canadian).

I remember he held the note up high and said a bunch of stuff in Burmese that I did not understand. All the others in the same group looked up with a bit of envy at his little found free money treasure. Imagine what he would have done if he had found the equivalent of 50 dollars Canadian in that bag.

Dive for it? It was just $50 wasn't it?

How our lives change over time based on things we experience is an interesting concept. I have a friend who I grew up with, a friend that I have known since elementary school but our lives and life experiences have now become so different, after high school we went in different directions. He is now a private school teacher and tutor earning around $200 000 dollars a year (over 4 times what I make as a guard), he sends his children to a private school and lives in a expensive new house. My friend now lives a very different life than mine. He lives a good, happy, comfortable life but in a bit of a small segregated world, a Canada based upper middle class cocoon.

When I wrote an email to him recently half joking about diving for the $50 I found, he wrote back, "Dive for it?  It was just $50 wasn't it?"

This comment got me thinking about how different our two lives had become and how much influence many of the things I had seen and experienced first hand over the last 30 years had changed me as a person. I made my $50 diving comment half in jest but was also half serious because I know so many people who would dive for money on the floor. $50 to these folks would be a fortune, heck they would probably dive for $5 and maybe fight for $10.

Being a small part of so many different lives since I started making documentary photographs when was 21 (turning 51 soon) has changed the way I view things. When you see people without money and how they act, you re-evaluate the TRUE value of $50 bill on the floor.

I remember:

Dupree Bolton a jazz trumpet player and heroin addict. He used to play the trumpet on the streets of San Francisco for the tourists for loose change. I was 21 when I first met him, we sort of became friends and he introduced me to the ghetto world of West Oakland California.

One of the things I remember most about Dupree was the time I was with him and he was counting the loose change he had earned that day. He was on his hands and knees counting nickels and dimes, desperately hoping he had enough to buy a $5 bag (balloon) of heroin. I remember photographing his hands as he dug through the change, slowly counting what he had. He did not have enough to buy the drugs, it was all so sad and pathetic

I remember:

The I remember the young children who would beg on the streets and walking bridges of Bangkok in 1999 my second visit to Thailand. I would photograph them as they begged from locals and tourists. I remember there eyes, how hot it was, how noisy it was, but what stands out most in my memories is the eyes of the begging adults and children.

Mother begging with her child Sukhumvit road, Bangkok Thailand 1999
I remember:

Sweet Nong who I knew as a freelance sex worker in 1999, and who I visited in 2003 again at her home. Nong was no longer working in the sex industry but she was living in abject poverty. She was always a small skinny girl but she was very much thinner when I met her again in 2003. She had 3 children that she struggled to support with her security guard boyfriend. They were living, but barely. It was so heartbreaking to see what had happened to a woman I knew, cared for and worried about.

Nong near her Bangkok slum home, Thailand 2003
I remember:

The hill tribe village I visited in Laos in 2010, and the Laos family I ate supper with. The family lived barely above the poverty line, 8 or so folks to a small house. I remember them giving me fried frogs and small little tomatoes to eat, they were so kind.

Hill tribe girls, Laos 2011
I remember:

The children with bare feet living in Klong Toey slum in Bangkok, who I photographed and taught English to. They laughed and followed me around saying the words I taught them. They asked me if I would come back and teach them some more, there was a real joy to them, so much potential.

My eager young English students Klong Toey Slum, Bangkok Thailand 2010
I remember:

The slum living motorcycle taxi driver who was too proud to accept money when I offered it to him for his sick baby girl. He told me "We are Ok, my wife works also" (she sold cheap foods from a street stall).

I remember:

The dozens and dozens of sex workers I have photographed through the years who sold there bodies to earn money for their parents or their children back home.

Jo and Nit selling themselves outside a short time bar, Pattaya Thailand 2003
I remember:

The young girl with big eyes in the Poipet slum in Cambodia. She just watched me quietly from the doorway of he slum home as I made photographs. What has become of her?

Young girl in doorway with big eyes, Poipet Cambodia 2010
I remember:

Young Doo-aye digging through the garbage to earn money for her family. I remember the father from the dump filling the slop pail with rice he found and would recook for his two young boys. I remember the young man who worked harder and longer than anyone else to provide for his family. I remember the joy this same man felt when he built a little area under his shack for his children to lay on over and off the ground. I remember the 3 young children, brothers and sisters who watched me on the dump road.

Three Burmese children in the dump, Mae Sot Thailand 2013
I remember:

Anapon, living in his little Bangkok room under the free way and how when I gave him a bit of money he went off and bought a single egg and some rice for dinner. He immediately cooked everything up and ate while I photographed him.

Anapon in his little room under the freeway, Bangkok 2013
I remember:

The street kids on Kathmandu Nepal. How they slept in the open, how they begged and  begged for food and drug money, and how they loved the little dog who lived with them.

Nepal street kid with the groups dog, Kathmandu Nepal 2013
Having all these memories, being a small part of all those lives so profoundly affected by lack of money, changes how you evaluate money. My friend and I have lived different lives since high school we have different life experiences and those experiences have changed us as people. We look at $50 bill sitting on the ground in different ways. For him it's just a small telling comment "Dive for it?  It was just $50 wasn't it?" For me it's "What would all those people from all those memories do with $50." "How would it affect there lives in a short term positive way at least?" "How happy would Nong, Anapon, Doo-aye  or the begging street mother be if I gave them a $50 dollar bill?"

I just cannot look at $50 the same way as I did before, as my friend does now. Life experiences have changed my thinking, clouded my feelings and thoughts. Things are not as simple as they use to be.

Found Money, Feel Guilty

Yesterday on the carpet of a restaurant I was eating at I found $50 CAD. I was not sure what to do, I was walking from the Easter buffet plate of food in hand and there it was sitting on the carpet, a $50 dollar bill! I stood there a bit stunned and then bent down and picked it up, half expecting a bunch of folks to be diving for it at the same time. No one noticed anything, no one said anything, no one reacted in any way. A very strange thing, I have never found $50 before.

I would have given it back to the person who lost it, but how do you do that exactly? There were over 100 people in that very crowded room. The bill looked like any other bill, no wallet, no identification. It is not like I saw it falling out of someones pocket. I could not hold it up and ask anyone if they lost it. The money was just there not he carpet looking up at me.

After I picked it up and shuffled unsure back to my table I kept looking back over the next hour to that area to see if anyone was looking on the floor for anything. Nothing happened, no one seemed to have lost anything.

I feel lucky to have found $50 but also feel guilty about taking the money. I wish I could have given it back to the unlucky person who lost it. Hopefully that person was not in too desperate shape financially. A poor person losing $50 and a rich person losing $50 are two different things.


I am thinking of buying another used Hasselblad lens, this one is the 120mm F/4 CF T. The price of the lens varies greatly on eBay from $399 to over $1000 USD. The advantages over my current 150mm blad lens would be less weight 785g to 695g and closer focusing from 1.35 meters to 0.8 meters. By being physically closer to my subject while photographing I find helps with the positive vibe of the session, your allowed to interact with your subject better, there is more of a connection.

The 120mm is supposed to be one of the sharpest lens ever made by Hasselblad.  I might be using this lens for hundreds of head and shoulder portraits in Asia. Am not sure if it is worth the investment. I am trying to reduce my expenditure on more gear, $500 or 600 CAD would allow me to by lots of film! Or pay for over 1/3 of my next plane ticket to Asia.

I think I need to experiment with the 80mm at F2.8 first to see what kind of focusing distance, distortion and bokeh I get. Maybe I can also use my extension rings for the right effect. There is also a 100mm F3.5 version lens available from Hasselblad.

 Hasselblad 120mm F/4 CF T

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Dream Camera

My all time dream camera is on eBay now for $32500 USD. This camera weighs over 50lbs and probably needs 2 tripods to support it. The film holders require 2 hands to remove the dark slides, WOW! Boy would I love to have this machine, making contact platinum prints with it would be  sheer joy.

eBay Ebony 20x24

400 000 And Counting

I recently passed 400 000 page views, thanks everyone for coming to the blog, viewing my photographs and reading my blathering on writing. The next really big number is half a million. I wonder if "YAUM's PHOTO DIARY" will eventually get over 1 million page views, that would really be something!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Ringflash Look

I am thinking of doing the coming "Lost Innocence" series of photographs with a ring flash and Tri-x.
Ringflash light is harsh, directional and creates an intense dramatic portraits. "Lost Innocence" deals with the destruction of lives of young woman who are sold into sexual slavery in the sex industry of South East Asia. Using a ring flash should bring their stark portraits "ALIVE".

Here is an older ringflash pic of dad.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Bringing It "ALIVE"

I watched a bunch of interviews today on YouTube with the actor Richard Thomas. Mr. Thomas was very articulate with his answers and one of the things that stood out for me was how he responded to the different scripts he reads. He spoke about how many scripts were OK, this one and that one were all not bad but then suddenly one script would pop out and would come "ALIVE". You just knew that that writer, that script was special.

I need to do more of this with my photography. I make to many mundane everyday average images, I need to bring them more to life, make them sing with a unique voice. I need to bring more of my photography "ALIVE!".

Mae Sot Thailand Rental Properties

Am looking at some rental properties in Mae Sot Thailand. I want to continue to work on my "Families of the Dump" project there as well as several other photo series. I might just rent a place up there for my entire trip and ignore Bangkok. Not many rental properties online for Mae Sot, but both of these would work fine for me as long as they are located in or very near the town. Power and water are additional rental costs, there would also be a deposit of some kind and possibly a minimum time lease.

First up a condo for 4000 baht a month ($156 CAD).

Detached house 56 square meters, 2 rai of land.

Their advertising blurb:

Available for rent. Sot, Tak province. 
The Lotus is great. Area 56 sqm 
Water - Electricity. This paid 
4,000 baht a month

Next a 28 square meter 1 bedroom apartment 5000 baht a month ($195CAD). Some of these photos might be from a different room which would cost more. There seems to be an awful lot of real-estate here for the listed 28 square meters.

Their advertising blurb:

The room for lease day or month have furniture and electronics [Bed by wood, good mattress , wardrobe , dressing table , desk , television , refrigerator , water heather , air conditioner , washing counter ] Once of week give cleaning the room and two time of month give washing blankets and bedding . Have caregivers for 24 hour. Free Wi-fi price 450 bath for a day and 5,000 bath for a month has coffee for breakfast 

Classy, Nice Email From Photo Life

I wrote back a short snippy reply to my rejection letter and received this nice polite email in return. My bad, I should have have been more professional in my response. Photo Life showed real class by taking the time for the second email. We just have a different opinion on what photography should communicate. I have the same problem with many folks!!: ))

Here is their nice email:

Hi Gerry,

My bad, I forgot to remove the part about giving priority to Canadian photographers. I understand your frustration, and I'm sorry if this offended you. Before sending you this email however I visited your website and checked out your blog, I had your 4 envelopes in front of me with Edmonton written on it, so this was not a matter of not knowing you are indeed Canadian, it's just an email sent too quickly on a Friday morning after a rough week.

Canadian or not, all photographers are welcome to submit their work to Photo Life. It simply affects our decisions when we need to chose similar work from various photographers. We do give priority to Canadian photographers, and I point that out so we're a bit more transparent in regards to the selection process.

Kind regards,

--- -----

Photo Life Rejection Email

Got my 4 or 5 submission disks rejected by photo life today. Basically all my work from the last 8 years was turned down by Canada's leading photography magazine. They felt "My Fathers Last Days" and "Families of the Dump" plus all the other work submitted unworthy of publishing.

They also seem to not have known I am a Canadian, but why should that matter? Photography magazines should show good-great photographs, who cares where the photographer was born. The image, the story, the subject, the quality of the work is all that should matter. Your birth certificate? Where your from? Who cares!!

They included a photo contest link that has some nice imagery, pretty pictures with some fun unique compositions. Not really any real human emotions in any of the work. Lots of style not much substance in the examples posted. I will not be entering the contest, I try (not always sucessfully) to show real human emotion in my pictures, not into the glossy fluff stuff. Just in case  some of you that read this blog might want to try entering pictures, there is some prize money involved. There is also an entry fee so this contest is a bit of a money grab as these things usually are. I included the rejection email with the link below:

Dear Gerry,

Thank you for your interest in Photo Life magazine and for taking the time to share your work. 

Unfortunately, it will not be possible for us to include your images in our 2015 editorial line-up. We receive a large volume of submissions, and while many of these present interesting images and topics, we unfortunately cannot publish them all. We also give priority to Canadian photographers and authors to help support our local industry.

We nonetheless invite you to participate in The World We Live In contest, which is open to Canadian and US residents. The next edition will be launched this June. You will find complete details here:

Kind regards,

----- -----
April/May 2015 edition of Photo Life

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Poem: "So We'll Go No More A Roving" By George Gordon, Lord Byron 1784-1859

So We'll Go No More a Roving

So we'll go no more a-roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart still be as loving,
And the moon still be as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul outwears the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon.

Quote: Paul Walker (Actor)

"You know, all that really matters is that the people you love are happy and healthy. Everything else is just sprinkles on the sundae."

Poem: "On His Deceased Wife" By John Milton (1608-1674)

      MeThought I saw my late espousèd Saint
      Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,
      Whom Joves great Son to her glad Husband gave,
      Rescu'd from death by force though pale and faint,
      Mine as whom washt from spot of child-bed taint,
      Purification in the old Law did save,
      And such, as yet once more I trust to have
      Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
      Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
      Her face was vail'd, yet to my fancied sight,
      Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin'd
      So clear, as in no face with more delight.
      But O as to embrace me she enclin'd
      I wak'd, she fled, and day brought back my night.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Dreamt Of Dad

I have not dreamt about dad for a while but last night I did. In the dream I was called over to see a video. The video was playing on one of those old tape style machines that were used by schools in the early 80s, one of those big clunker heavy duty tape machines that weighed 60 pounds and had crappy quality. In the video my father and mother were watching me as a child. A group of children were playing a game and their parents were standing and watching from the side. As dad watched he had a big smile on his face, he was so happy, so pleased to be watching his young son. In the dream I could see him laughing with a big smile on his face, he had gleaming white teeth. He looked so happy and alive.

Our shared birthday is soon, this is the first year I will have a birthday without my father. The first year I will not be able to say "Happy birthday dad!" and hear back "Happy birthday Gerald!"

I miss him so much.