Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dreamt Of Dad

7am woke  after 3 hours sleep. I dreamt of my father, he was laughing, at one point I was worried he looked sick and I  told him that.i was sorry I had made too much noise and disturbed him. I miss  dad so much, cried a bit very soon after I woke, he seems so far from me now, over. 8 months since he died and 1/2 a world away. I need to talk to him, hear his voice, to be joking with him again. Sometimes things don't seem real, don't seem to have really happened to me until after I tell my father about them.

All Hands On The Rollie!!!

Today at the boxing gym I did a little tutorial on using a Rolleiflex. I started showing different young boxers how the camera worked. The next thing I knew it was all hands on the camera. Poking, touching and twisting everything in sight. Sometimes the Thai kids can become very excited around new things an ideas. The camera and tripod can be great sources of interest and fun for them. Several of the kids had fun just taking apart and putting together the tripod legs.

Update* Will post a video of 3 year old Di playing withe the camera following my instructions in Thai, a clever girl!

Boxing Gym Portraits

Today I spent time making portraits in the Klong Toey slum boxing gym. I ended up photographing 6 boxers and 1 three year old slum girl. Did all the portraits with to Rolleiflex and close up lens set #1. I am still getting a feel for these style portraits am a bit worried how the f2.8 stop and 1/8, 1/15 shutter speeds will work. Sometimes I used a cable release sometimes not. It was a fun few hours of shooting. I think I am done with the gym for now. I need to save film for the dump shots. Later on if I have film I will return. Will bring some photo presents for the boxers next trip.

Shot a bit with the Leica M6, 35mm at f1.4 and Tri-x rated at 800 (very dark at the gym.

Friday, October 30, 2015

First Massage

Well I just had my first massage, $22CAD for 2 hours (including tip). The massage was quite nice, very relaxing. Now l can lay down and sleep quickly and easily before tomorrows photography. I will spend 2 more nights here at the hotel in Klong Toey before moving on. Am going to visit a place called Nong Yai then Pattaya for a few days before heading to Mae Sot and the dump for 2 weeks or longer.

Lady Boxer

Today at the gym there were two young girls learning Muay Thai. One girl was 12 the other only 9 years old. The girls after a few years of training will be able to handle themselves very well, no guys better f-ck with them! I believe female Muay Thai is becoming more and more popular across Thailand. I did some head shots of both boxers.

Pasa Thai

Speaking Thai again is loads of fun. I am amazed that farang people can get by with no knowledge of the Thai language. I am constantly speaking Thai especially as it relates to photographing people. Heck I even spoke some Khmer to a young girl today. She was very quiet and watching me from a distance when I tried to speak Thai to her, I was told she was Cambodian. I remembered how to say what is your name in Khmer "Chomoo Awai". After I spoke to her in the proper language she told me her name and relaxed for some head shots. A beautiful young girl, what does her future hold?

Language skills are often key to gaining people's trust. I need to continue to work on my Thai and greatly improve my almost  non existent Khmer and Burmese.

Feeling More Like Myself

Today was the first day I felt like myself. Went out walking and photographing in 3 areas. I did the 3 places I photographed last trip, the gym, the migrant housing area and people under the freeway. Did about 3 hours of shooting with the Leica's and Rolleiflex. Unfortunately my Rollie on the tripod toppled over damaging the film advance crank a tiny bit.

I ended up doing a number of square format head shots of Khun Oh and Khun Pon (people who live under the freeway), as well as several child heads and Muay Thai boxer heads. I have to limit my shooting of 120mm film as I only have 40 rolls. I need to keep fim to do the dump portraits.

Found out today that Khun Go a man I photographed in 2013 was dead. About 1 year ago he went to sleep on the street and never woke up again. Life in Klong Toey slum can be very harsh. Last trip I found that 3 different people I photographed had died, Go Is the first I know of this trip.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bought And Paid For

A rather interesting discussion about aging in the sex tourist world came up the other night when I spoke with them. One fellow from Australia  spoke of a older man in scene who died in Bangkok.  This man set up house not with a young hottie (his description) but with am older more responsible Thai woman. He then paid her a salary to take care of him and set up an incentive program. Supposedly he did up deal with a lawyer where the longer he stayed alive the more money the woman taking care of him would eventually inherit.

Fro many a sexpat (long term sex tourists) perspective, this is a best case scenario. They often have no wife, no children, no real friends who love and respect them. They rarely have put in the time and commitment into building those relationships. Basically after living a long life no on gives a shit whether they live or die. Just as they have bought sex for their entire lives now they must use their money to continue to buy people to care about them. They must buy their caregiver(s) (loved ones)and rig in added dollar promises to get the person to care whether they live or die.

A loathsome, selfish and terrible way to live. Their entire lives centre around using their money to buy the poor for their own selfish sexual gratification and survival. In a way the end life they face is a kind of grand cosmic karma pay back.

One of the men I known here for almost 2 decades, always called the world he lives in a "Paradise" a "Heaven" is now seeing the other side. He is old and lonely and entertains some suicidal thoughts. Many nights he sits in his corner of the hotel he lives in by himself untouched and unloved. Many of the girls refuse to go with him for sex even if he pays them "Big Money". His health has gone downhill, stomach food eating issues (HIV?). He has gone from sex with 1-4 girls a day to 2-3 a week.He told me why go on living if he cannot enjoy life any longer?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sukhumvit Sightings

Tonight I had a bit of time to kill and walked Sukhumvit road in Bangkok between soi 4 and 15. That area of Sukhumvit is sex tourist, sex worker central.

Here are some of my observations made from 4am-5am:

Beautiful female sex worker looking over her shoulder back at her balding middled aged white customer uses a bank ATM machine. She then followed him, quietly,head down to a wating taxi. What struck me was how after he got his money the customer did not stop and talk or acknoledge the girl in any way, he simply blew past her and she followed obiediently. I thought " He is treating her like his dog."

Multiple groups of freelance workers having their fortunes told by street fortune tellers while sitting on the sidewalk.. Many Thais especially the poor and more desperate believe in all kinds of superstitions. There is often real desperation in this need.

Two older freelancers sitting at a sidewalk bar with their 50+Arab customer. The man is hugging one of the woman but is completly out of it, drunk as a skunk. Mean while at the same time a young girl maybe 10 is begging from him with a cup held up to his fsce. The man in his drunken stupor ignores everyone.

A woman in her 30s begging with a baby from my table to table with the tourist males who are drinking, eating and playing with freelance sex workers.

Many generally desperate Thais chasing money. A tuk tuk driver asking me 5 times to go with him, an older woman promising me 3 times to give me an oil massage in an hidden away upstairs room, a not attractive middle aged ladyboy sitting alone on a dark sidewalk promising sex.

On the lighter side, two Thai boys working at a 7/11 teasing and joking with a old lady who sells food on the street. They made loud noises and then quick sharp and surprising movements making the old woman call out "Groo-ai!!!" ("scared!, frightened!"). It was all rather fun and good natured and done in a joyful way. They probably know and have joked with the old lady in this way for foe several years.

First Day of Shooting

I am still recovering from my jet lag but today got out shooting for the first time. A late start after last nights adventures but things went reasonably well. My main goal was to visit old haunts and re-establish realationships.

I visited 3 areas I photographed in back in 2013.

- the Klong Toey slum Muay Thai gym
- the. people who live under the bridge
- the migrant worker housing

The gym had changed substancially, there is new ownership, a new boss. It seemed less professional, fighters less well trained, gym more dirty and congested. The prople under the brdge still live under the same bridge, Khune Oh (a lady) and Khun Pon (a man). I will try to photograph both of them tomorrow in better light. The migrant housing area has been taken over by mostly Thai folks. There are still Cambodian and Burmese people staying there but most folks are very poor Thais.

Things are very different now, 2 years has led to many changes in Bangkok, will the Mae Sot dump be the same??

Tons Of Spoken Thai

Am speaking tons of Thai yet again. Not sure how other farang here can get by without language skills. I would find it near impossible. From taxis, to ordering food, to finding friends and businesses, speaking Thai is key. Sometimes I struggle to understand at other times it goes smooth and easy. After being 2 years away and not speaking it is surprising how much you retain, like riding a bike I guess.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sex Tourist Round Table

Sat around with a number of older sex tourists tonight at a local strategically placed hotel. One man I have known since 1999 the others all older hardcore dudes I met for the first time tonight. There was a Aussie, Canadian, American, Irisman and  Norwegian all 63 and older.

Topics discussed:
- prices going up for short time sex.
- Japanese men ruining the market and driving up prices
- shortime sex going from two hours to one.
- how the girls did not take care of you like before.
- a man in the hotel who would take 15 girls at a time.
- how another man would pay girls to grow their pubic hair so he could shave them when he visited.
- the lack of girls.
- how certain girls had lost their bodies.
- older sex workers and how ugly they were, how their legs were wider from being open to much.
- lots of talk of the good old days when things were better.

Back In Sex Tourist World

My first day back in Bangkok with not much to do at night I visited some sex tourism areas. I had not visited the bars since 2012 when I did the last of the sex workers on white photos. It was interesting to be back in that world again thou I doubt I could be there day in and day out like when I was shooting that scene heavily in1999 and 2003.

Many things were the same but there were also many differences. African girls are now quite common, one with red hair followed me for a bit looking for a customer. There was also a section
of African men asking if I needed help (not sex workers), I have heard from local sources the Africans on the streets of Bangkok cannot be trusted, I talked to a few oft those guys and faced no problems.

One thing I doubt very unusual was muslim sex workers complete with hijab head scarfs. I have never scene muslim sex workers in the Bangkok tourist scene before, but I was told it is now more common.

One night back was enough for me, looking forward to shooting in Kloing Toey slum tomorrow. I will try photographing in the slum, Muay Thai boxing gym, migrant workers and look for the people under the freeway (shot them in 2013). These people, these subjects I enjoy much more than the world of the bars. There is more honesty, more truth, more kindness. The land of sex tourism is so harsh and jaded I can only take it in small doses now.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Am In Bangkok

I am in Bangkok, very tired after a painful flight. Awaiting my food order in my hotel room before sleeping. Going to have pork wnton and fried rice with shrimp. Much more to follow!!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Picking Up The Prints, Goodbye Rosebud

A long day, first my 7th of 12 hour night of security shifts, then a 3+ hour drive down to the Rosebud Gallery. I took mom down to see dad hanging in the space. She got to view the show and gallery and spend some time with him before the prints were taken down. In the end I was up around 24 hours before finally getting to sleep in a hotel in the town of Drumheller Alberta, my head is splitting, it was a long long day.

I am glad I was able to bring mom here today. I also kept my promise to dad, we told him his photos would be shown in Rosebud and they did him proud. Dads photos had a strong effect on many of the Rosebud viewers, bringing up lots of personal memories. I think dad would have been very happy the way it all turned out. Now I need to keep another promise to him, the promise of the "Forgotten Laughter" book dedication, that very demanding project starts soon when I return to the "Land of Smiles".

The entrance to Rosebud hamlet
Dad and I in happier times celebrating our shared birthday, Artist Statement
Mom and dad together again at the gallery today
Here are some photos made of the exhibition visitor sign in book. People from across Alberta as well as some folks from Saskatchewan and British Columbia visited the exhibition. There was even a couple who visited from South Bend Indiana.

"Gets to the soul and core of human relationships, Thank you.", "Humbling + Sad"
"Very Intense", "Very Moving Photography", "Thought Provoking"
"The photo exhibit was astounding!"

Another Probable Donation!?

I have been exchanging emails about the dump over the last few days with one of the top people at the plant where I work security. He asked me tonight for my Paypal ID so he could send me a donation. Not sure for how much it will be but I will use it in the best way I can. Maybe buy the people more food, maybe cash donations to the individual families or a larger donation to the local school.

Gosh this thing has really snowballed and spiralled upwards in a very very very positive way.

All the good that is happening and all the good that is going to happen is a direct result of my photography. Without the photography none of it takes place.

"Ain't Photography Grand!!"

Friday, October 23, 2015

Total Donation Numbers

With all the help from the people at work I now have lots to donate to the "Families of the Dump". This trip I can give them 50 hats, 2 pairs of high quality rubber boots and $380 CAD in food.

I also have 3 more pairs of boots and 23 more hats for my next trip.

You got to love it!

A Sweet Man

Well Chris the truck driver man I work with just came in and dropped off some money for the "Families of the Dump" He had spoken to me of giving $70 for an extra bag so I could take all the rubber boots to the dump at the same time.

I told Chris today that the extra bag idea might not be the best way to use his money. Spending an extra fee of $160+ on 3 pairs of used rubber boots was wasteful. I asked him if instead I could use his money ($70) to buy more food for the families. Chris told me "Sure no problem!" Then he counted out 9-$20 bills for a total donation of $180! He had talked last night of giving $70 but instead gave me $180, amazing! Not only was it great that Chris donated the money how he gave it was also really impressive. He had worked all night an had been on the road for over 24hours.Chris had had only 2 hours sleep in his semi truck while waiting to upload stuff from his tanks. So after all of that he came to my plant site guardhouse in his own personal vehicle before going home to give me the money. What a sweet guy!

I got his email address and will send him some updates and photos of how his money is being used from Thailand.

Packing! Packing! And Repacking

Over the last few days I have been doing extra packing and work around my house after my 12 hour night shifts. Am not getting enough sleep, feel tired tonight.

I have 2 large check in bags packed, both weighing almost 50lbs. I also have a 15+lb bag of film and a camera bag loaded with:

- Leica R6 body and 24mm f2.8 lens
- Leica M6 body and 35mm f1.4 lens
- Rolleiflex 80mm f2.8 with close up lens unit #1
- Cannon 1/2 frame camera
- Digital camera

In the check in bags I am carrying all my 5x7 equipment (hopefully no theft), clothing as well as 50 hats and 3 sets of boots (1 for me, and 2 donations). The $200 is in the bank, ready to be withdrawn and used to buy food in Mae Sot when I am there.

Tomorrow I drive to Rosebud to pick up my show prints from Akokiniskway Gallery, plan on staying over night before returning to Edmonton on Sunday.

Am very tired but high and fuelled by some very positive vibes.

Update: A few minutes ago I got an email from a woman who in the plant, someone I have worked with for around 20 years and not really talked to too much, mostly hi and bye type stuff. She sent a very kind supportive email and ended it this way.

"Your doing a great thing. Bless you!! Travel Safe."

You got to feel good about that sort of thing. We can all make a difference in the lives of others, whether small or large, everything we can do, or try to do matters.

People Are Good, Another $70?

People have an underlying goodness that I have seen come out in spades lately over the last few days at work. As long as person knows the money is going to the right people for the right reasons, they are more than eager to help out.

Yesterday during my security night shift I had Chris a trucker I work with come into the guardhouse. We started talking about what was new. I being excited about my upcoming trip started speaking about Thailand. When Chris found out that I could not take all the donated boots because I did not have enough room he offered to pay my guessed cost of $70 for an extra bag.

It turns out the 3rd check in bag will end up costing over $160 so I will not go down that road. Still it was so nice for Chris to offer the money. If he does come with the $70 tonight I will try to get him to donate it instead to the purchase of more food for the families. Then I can move up from $200 to $270 which will buy extra rice and canned fish.

This has all turned out so well.

Calender Idea Reborn?

With the recent success getting all the donated hats as well as the financial donation I am wondering if my old calender should come back to life. That idea was to to follow my friend Larry's idea of doing up a calender of photographs, then selling it to bunch of folks then using the profits to donate back to your subjects.

Maybe as part of the "Forgotten Laughter" and "Families of the Dump" photographic series I can create a bunch of calenders. Then sell the photos and make a nice profit. Now that the photos in the dump are a known quantity here at my security job site,  I should be able to sell the calenders on site. If I can do good sales on my work site and then also find 3 or 4 other selling locals, this could turn into a winning idea. Instead of making a $200 donation of food I might be able to donate $2000 or more.

More thought required.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

$200 Cash Donation

Rather an amazing thing happened today. One of the engineers I work with and know quite well was so impressed with the dump email story and photos I sent out that she took them to her children to see. The children and her family donated a bunch of child hats and also some money. Initially when I opened the envelope with the money I was quite happy and surprised to see a $50 bill. Geez I thought $50!!! I can donate something to the dump school. There was a note with the money so I took out the note to read and realized it is not just 1 $50 bill but instead it is 4-$50 bills! An amazing $200!

The note asked me to do 2 things, buy food for the people in the dump and later on to come to her house for a meal with her family and tell stories about the "Families" and what happened . So that is what I will do, I will use the money to buy food for the families and then when I return to Canada I will visit my co-worker and her family and share some stories, photos and videos of my time at the Mae Sot dump.

Sort of amazing to get a $200 cash donation when your only asking for baseball caps. Such is the power of the best kind of photography, social documentary photography! Because of the generosity of my co-workers the people who live and work in the Mae Sot dump will be helped in a small way.

Update* I wonder what $200 of rice, canned fish and other foods look like? Now I get to find out! Later when I buy everything I will post a picture of what I buy before I take it out to the dump, stay tuned : )).

69 And Counting!'

Got to work today and there was another bunch of hats awaiting me. I now have 69 hats!! Not all are new but I would say 70% are, the ones that are used I chose the best of the bunch, leading to 69 total hats.  That's a ton of hats! I was only hoping for 10-20.

Am un sure what is the best way to handle all this head wear. The boots and the hats combined works out to a bunch of weight, too much for me to take in one trip. I guess I will load up my second check in bag to its 50lb limit and relegate everything else to a 2nd and even a 3rd trip.

Thanks folks, this all a bit overwhelming. Lots of comments on the photos, so the work made does have a certain value, at least its going to get the families lots and lots and lots of baseball caps.

My Plant Comes Thru!!, Donation Heaven

The industrial plant I work security at came through for me big time!! I sent out a general e-mail to everyone on site (90+ folks) asking for any spare contractor baseball caps they had. Today when I came to the security guardhouse for my night shift 25 new hats were waiting for me (maybe more will follow). Way to go folks, thanks so much! In my email I had attached some photos from the 2013 dumps shoots. The photographs were of adults and children working and living in the garbage. Those pictures along with a detailed account of what I was doing and why I needed the hats, got the job done. Who says social documentary photography does not work! One lady was even going to take the children dump photos home to her young sons so they could see them and would donate their hats for children at the dump. You got to love that, making photos that then affect peoples lives in positive ways.

"Ain't Photography Grand!!"

I was also able to get 5 sets of nice used rubber boots (steel toe) from my boss here at work. The boots were heading to another donation but I managed to snag 5 of the smaller sized pairs for Asian feet (8 and 9s). I will take 2 pairs with me this trip and 3 pairs with me next trip to donate to the "Families of the Dump".

It was a good day : )).

The 2 sets of boots I will be bring to Thai to donate this trip, sizes 8 and 9
25 hats and  the other 3 boots pairs all size 9

Monday, October 19, 2015


I was hoping to make a donation of $500USD to the families of the dump when I return. The money was going to come from the Swedish TV station that asked about using a bit of my video footage. Unfortunately that deal never happened, the station rep sent me two emails then disappeared. I feel lousy about that.

I still want and need to donate to the families so will make my usual personal donations of rice, and canned fish. I wanted to do a bit more thou. Today I sent a request to some of my bosses at the plant where I work security. I am hoping to get some used rubber boots and some baseball caps from them. I can take the stuff over to Asia in my check in baggage (I have some room in my second 50lb bag), and then give it to the people directly hand to hand when I am in the dump.

Hopefully I can donate a 5 or 10 new baseball caps and a couple pairs of rubber boots, we will see what happens. If the plant turns me down I can take some of dads old second hand baseball caps and donate them. I have a hard time giving away stuff that my father  bought, owned, wore but this is for a good cause. It would be nicer to give away new caps, so hopefully the plant people will come through for me.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Quote: Oscar Wilde

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.’’

Getting That Names Right!

Question: How do I get the name and age print title-caption information right for all my large format photography subjects at the Mae Sot dump? I work alone with no assistants in difficult physical and environmental circumstances. I have very limited language skills in Burmese. How do I speak to my subjects, and get accurately recorded name/age data?

I thought up a radical new age way to do it today while driving home from work. What if I attached my small digi camera to the hot shoe of my Linhof 5x7 and when shooting the film stills put the digi camera in video mode (with sound recording as well). I can talk to my subject, ask them in Burmese their names and ages. The camera can record their answers for me. I do not need to make messy half assed notes which is a distraction. A big white dude writing stuff down might also frighten my subjects as they are sometimes damaged and persecuted people. Note taking and big cameras might be freaky deaky for them. I want and need them to be as comfortable as possible with the entire process. We need to work together to tell their stories. The video digital camera idea might help things proceed more calmly and fluidly.

The other advantage of doing digital video would be that I would get the names 100% right. Burmese names are fricking LONG! and CONFUSING! Most times when I was in the dump in 2013 I could not get their names written down correctly. Thai nicknames are easy to remember, and my Thai is relatively fluent in comparison to the Burmese so writing down nicknames and ages along with a photo ID number was not difficult. In this dump-Burmese situation video should work better. I could keep the video files for later film making use, and replay the name/age part back in the comfort of my hotel room where I could write down and record the information accurately.

I think this might be a winning idea as long as I have enough SD cards for all the files. This could turn out really well and it might also make for some interesting viewing later on during the gallery exhibition part of the process. If a great photo was made at some time, I would also have the video moment of the decisive exposure. You got to love modern tech!!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The More The Merrier! An Alberta Photo Open (Open Photo) Suggestion

If you have 40 spots available at the Open Photo Show, why not give it to 40 different photogs? Why do some people have 2 or 3 pictures in the exhibit (Open Photo 2015 had 40 works from 29 folks) and then not include so many others who submitted photographs. This last show submission process was made up of 200 works. Surely in that 200 there were another 11 individual artists who could have been accepted.

These exhibition nights are big deals for newbie photographers or photographers who have never had their work in a gallery before. Getting accepted could lead to a larger commitment on their part and more and more good photography. Why not include more pictures from more people? Two times in past years I have had 2 photos exhibited in the same Photo Open exhibition. Why? One is enough for me, one should be enough for others as well.

Lets give 40 gallery spots to 40 DIFFERENT PHOTOGRAPHERS. Lets help promote photography. Lets reward and encourage a larger number of photographers who submit work.

One is enough!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Open Photo 2015 Opening Night

I had a nice night out, took mom to see the dad photo at the Alberta wide Open Photo 2015 photography exhibit. The exhibition was held at the Jubilee Auditorium's Kaasa Gallery (where I had my one man show a few years back). The Kaasa and the people at the Jubilee put a really nice night together. Even the food that I was too nervous to eat last time round was quite good. Met up with a couple of photo club friends and had some nice discussions. A few people I did not know talked to me about the dad photo. Mom cried a bit but had a fun night out.

How was this years exhibition?? Same as always, some good work, some so so work and some bad work (opinions differ on which is which). Once again not much people photography on view. Of the 40 works shown, I would say 2 photos had people as there main subject and not just a landscape style element. Basically there was no people photography, I am usually the only dude or at best (in past years of 50 photos) 1 of 5 pictures that show people. I was the only person that had social documentary photography photos (which can also be landscapes). The only guy in the province submitting social photography? That does not seem right, either they are rejecting that style or those photogs are simply not entering their work (probably the latter).

The crowd was OK but not great, I think that relates to the fact there were 29 total artists and some were from Calgary etc, too far to travel. There were 5 unused artist name tags at the door, probably from Edmonton, all no shows. Not sure why these 5 folks who had work exhibited did not show, sort of a classless, rude act on their part. Their not showing up, leading to a smaller turnout, could eventually close down this exhibition. Funding for these things is difficult and very limited. I would guess this cost the organizers $7000-8000. I know I invited lots of photo club folks and only 3 showed. That sucky support for photography in Edmonton is why we have almost no photos being exhibited in the city. It is frustrating at times to be around people who supposedly love photography (a bunch of BS!) but when the cards are down, they cannot be counted on to make an appearance. These half assed, less than committed folks are pulling down all those who truly love the art form.

Hopefully this event will happen next year and into the future, but that is far from a set thing. As Akemi Matsubuchi said in her newspaper interview, we need more of this in Edmonton, more exhibitions, more events, more classes, more everything photography related!
St Albert Gazette Show Interview

Anyway it was a nice night out, and I was glad I could take mom to visit dad. The same thing will happen next week on Saturday when I take her down to Rosebud to see the show hanging there. Dad is still with us in a way, not the way I want him to be, but he is still here. He is now hanging in 2 different galleries, in 2 different Alberta locals. I wonder what he would think of his photos, of discussion going on about his life, stories being told, memories relived. I think he would be happy and OK with it, even thou the pictures are harsh and difficult. I believe he would admire the truth and honesty behind the work. The straight forward look at his illness and death is something he would accept. Dying of cancer is not a pretty thing, and the photos show his anxiety, loneliness and even his pain.

Many people tonight that spent a little extra time looking at dads photo. It definitely stood out in this bunch of images as most of the others were digi compilation photos or pretty picture landscape related themes. Most people are used to looking at beautiful landscapes, but real life, real human drama? That's a bit different.

Mom and dad together
Some of the OK sized crowd, not quite enough for the large space
The dad photo was different in style than other photographs at the exhibit and drew attention.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Another Rejection

Got another rejection from Gallery 44 (forgot I had submitted there), I think this is like my 3rd rejection notice from these people.
Dear Gerry,

Thank you for your submission to Gallery 44. Our Exhibition Programming Committee thoroughly reviewed all submissions. Unfortunately I must inform you that your work was not selected for an exhibition at this time. The selection process is made very difficult by both the high caliber of the many proposals we receive and the regrettably few exhibition spaces available.

We appreciated this opportunity to view your work and wish you the best with your practice. We hope that you will consider Gallery 44 as a possible venue for future projects.

All my best,

Memorial, Justin Shlamp At Athabasca Falls

These 2 little snippets are from the Justin Shlamp memorial that inspired me to think up the "Wet Plate Memorial Photo Project". Not sure that these pics will ever be made but it is a possibility.

Here are two cropped details, this is what I would be focusing on with the proposed series Ambrotype and Tintypes.

Some More Rolleiflex F Scans

Here are a few more 120 Rolleifex F scans from last trip. I was just running some film through to make sure the camera was sharp and operating properly after the big repair cleaning job Harry Fleenor did in California for me. Everything seems A-OK.

Boring photos, hopefully soon I can do some important heads with this camera in Asia. I am taking the Rollei F and 40 rolls of film with me, towards that end.

Swirling water, Athabasca Falls, Jasper Park
Tree-bush-grass, yellow filter on Tri-x, normal development

St. Albert Gazette Story, Open Photo 2015

The coming opening night (this Friday) for the Alberta Photo Open 2015, is featured in the St. Albert Gazette. The picture shown in the article is by St. Albert photographer Akemi Matsubuchi, I thought it might be a photo done up by a former acquaintance I know here in town (he also shoots black and white landscapes) but turns out I was wrong. Too many people doing that b/w landscape thingy, too many photogs with similar styles shooting the same stuff. It can blend and be a bit confusing, things tend to blur.

Here is the article:
St. Albert Gazette Article On, Photo Open 2015

Note" It is kind of cool having a fake name that ends in a "Y". your almost always the last one mentioned and your quite often the "and" person, as in this linked story.

Other featured artists include David Aaron, Debra Bachman, Edna Cabalo, Jeff Cruz, Aaron Falkenberg, Denis Gadbois, Zbigniew Gortel, Kiefer Hagen, John Hoyt, Philip Kanwischer, Jennifer Mccoy, Robert Pohl, Ryan Puchalski, Heiko Ryll, Marta Timmer, Mark Vitaris, Sandy Weatherall, and Gerry Yaum.

Anyway the featured photograph by Akeimi Matsubuchi is nicely done,. You get a real feel for the ravages and beauty of Canadian winters.

Photograph by Akemi Matsubuchi

Monday, October 12, 2015

Mini Ipad?

I have been thinking of ways to cut down on traveling weight. Combining my 5x7 film into one box, removing one of my 35mm cameras from the mix and going from 75 to 50 rolls of 35mm film. The latest idea is that instead of taking the mac laptop, I take a mini Ipad with tiny keyboard (a bit hard to use).

I am using the mini Ipad/keyboard now, it is hard to get used to the typing, my fingers are too big , the smaller size and weight are a great savings thou. The other advantage of going with the mini would be the apps I have on the unit, Burmese, Thai and Khmer language apps as well as fun stuff like Thai chess. I might even be able to take it out into the field for the kids in the dump to play with.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Quote: Jim Carrey

"Love cannot be lost."

My Goal With "Forgotten Laughter"

I keep thinking about the coming trip, the coming chance to make photographs once again. What do I want to capture? What do I want to say?

I have figured out what tools I will use to speak with. I got all the tech stuff taken care of, the cameras are packed, the film, meter and reflector are in the suitcases and ready to go. What is it thou I want to say with the photographs? What is the underlying message?

"Forgotten Laughter" is about children living and surviving in poverty but I just do not want to take sullen looking child portraits. It is important to go beyond that, to get to another level in the work. Children are such beautiful human beings, there is such hope, potential and joy in a young life. I need to capture not only sad looking children surrounded by their nasty environments but also the joy of youth, the hope in their future, the wonder and excitement they live each day by. Children often look at the world with eyes of wonder, they see the rose of life not the fallen petals. They are filled with optimism and can find good and fun everywhere, even in places like garbage dumps and slums where I will be making pictures.

I need to capture some of that beauty, some of that, excitement, optimism and joy. If I can get a bit of the feeling of what it's like to be a child into the pictures. If I can communicate that child's viewpoint into the work then the underlying power of the photographs will be magnified ten fold.

I want and need the viewer to empathize strongly with the children portraits in "Forgotten Laughter". When viewer feels a strong attachment, a deep and personal connection, only then will the photographs have power and be truly effective. If I can communicate that message, then the photos can lead to positive change and have a chance to make a positive difference in the lives of my subjects.

This challenge awaits me, bring it on!! I am ready.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Wonderful New Gallery To Submit To

Found a wonderful new gallery I will submit work to. The gallery is located in Dawson City Yukon, "The Klondike Institute of Art and Culture". I always wanted to go up North, this might be my chance.

I plan on submitting work from 4 series, maybe they will like one of these.

1) "Families of the Dump"
2) "My Fathers Last Days"
3) "Thai Sex Worker" (the 8x10 neg photos on white backgrounds)
4) "Klong Toey Slum"

I hope the gallery jury is interested in non landscape styles of work and will show Social Documentary Photography. So often it is hard to get documentary work exhibited. Most galleries (especially commercial places) only want safe, saleable and non controversial works (landscapes, still life's). The photos I have showing now in Rosebud worked so well, why not in Dawson City?
Gallery Walk Through, In Rosebud

I need to get all 4 of these submissions out to the gallery before I depart for Thai. On my return I will have new photo series to submit, they should probably be ready around May/June of 2016.

Here is my artist statement for the first submission:


“The Families of the Dump”

No one wants to live with garbage but forty Burmese families call the Mae Sot (Thailand) municipal garbage dump home. They are refugees both economic and political who have escaped the chaos of Burma for the semi illegal sanctuary of Thailand. The dump provides a way for the families to earn a living; they can scavenge for recyclables and make a daily income. Young children to the elderly dig through the waste, looking for anything of value. Their survival each and every day is choreographed with the arriving garbage trucks.

I made these images  in May and November of 2013. My hope was to give a voice to these forgotten people. I wanted to tell their story, to raise awareness and to document. I threw myself into that world, lived, spoke, and ate with the people I met. My emotional response to their lives, what I saw heard and felt lead to these photographs.

Thank you for considering the work.



Here is a link to the gallery I mentioned. Make your own submissions, they seem like nice people.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Mother And Child In Art

Looking back through the history of art one of the most common themes (in various forms) is the mother and child. The theme being, the all encompassing love a mother feels for her child. This is such a noble subject, such in important story to tell. That is why it is revisited over and over again through the history of art.

I want to concentrate on finding and making an important mother and child photograph, something that will homage to love and motherhood. That search continues this coming photo trip.

Tomoko Uemura In Her Bath, 1971 by W. Eugene Smith
Migrant Mother" Florence Owens Thompson 32, Feb/March 1936 by Dorothea Lange
"The Pieta" sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti sculpture
Mother and child at the Korem camp, Ethiopia 1984 by Sebastiao Salgado
Mother and child with handkerchief by Pablo Picasso 1903
Sien nursing baby by Vincent Van Gogh 1882

Kenro Izu's Bhutan Portraits

Today before work I was studying the beautiful simplicity of Kenro Izu's Bhutan portrait work. There is such beauty in his faces, such humanity, a feeling of peace, dignity and serenity. He communicates so well, the lives and humanity of his subjects. Why I can't I do that using a smaller format camera this trip? If Mr. Izu can manage such stunning work using a very difficult and heavy 14x20, why can I do similar work within the less stringent complications of a 5x7 camera? I plan on looking over his wonderful work many times before I leave. If your going to learn, learn from the best!
Bhutan: Sacred Within By Kenro Izu

Portrait of young Bhutan boy by Kenro Izu

Why Create?

Been thinking a lot lately about the reasons to create. You take something in your mind, in your thoughts and heart, then translate it into a photograph. You communicate your inner feelings and emotions through your subject and record it forever (?) on a piece of photographic film.

Why? What drives you to do that?

In my case why go to dumps an slums or the sex workers of Asia looking for stories to tell. Why would someone do that instead of lying on a beach and boozing it up? Most people I know go to Thai to relax, shop, trek, or ride on elephants.

Why did you go to the dump? I had that question asked of me recently at my Rosebud exhibition artist day. What drives a person to travel half way round the world to tell stories through photography?

I am not sure I can answer those questions. I think it comes down to an inner need to reach beyond yourself, a need to communicate what you feel, a need to try to make a positive difference. In a way it is like you were given a gift (being born into a  middle class western family) and you have a responsibility to meet. In another way there is just the pure high and emotions of the creative process. There is such joy in making a photograph, it is something I have done for almost 40 years now but I never tire of it. The hunger if anything has grown and grown. I feel more desire to create photographs now at 51 years old than any other time in my life. It has become an insatiable thirst I cannot quench.

I know one thing, if I do not do it, I cannot live, it is my reason for being here in this wonderful world.

"Ain't Photography Grand!" :))) Peace Brother!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Quote: There's Much More Truth That Your Blind To

"there's much more truth that your blind to..."

Sometimes things are not what they seem:
Thai Video: "there's much more truth that your blind to

6th Century Madonna

Been studying a wonderful old book of mine "History Of Art" by H.W. Janson. Love this book, it has so many graphic portraits that are rather remarkable. It is amazing how many great works there are, that are a bit forgotten in time.

I came accross this wonderful Madonna detail. I want to try to so something similar with my Rolleiflex and close up lens hand held in the field, this coming trip. Portraits in this style might work best for the "Forgotten Laughter", "Migrant Worker" and "Lost Innocence" photographic projects.

Madonna detail, 6th or 7th century (original in color, Encaustic on wood)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Quote: Sidney Potier

"I'm the me I choose to be."

Exposure Photography Festival 2015 Magazine

Here is a online link to the magazine for the 2015 Exposure Photography Festival. I had a joint  show with Larry Louie at his gallery here in Edmonton for this festival.
Exposure Photography Festival 2015 Magazine

Quotes: From The Michelangelo Film "The Agony And The Ecstasy"

Raphael: For what is an artist in this world but a servant, a lackey for the rich and powerful? Before we even begin to work, to feed this craving of ours, we must find a patron, a rich man of affairs, or a merchant, or a prince or... a Pope. We must bow, fawn, kiss hands to be able to do the things we must do or die [chuckles].
Raphael: We are harlots always peddling beauty at the doorsteps of the mighty.
Michelangelo:  If it comes to that, I won't be an artist.
Raphael: [scoffs] You'll always be an artist. You have no choice.

Quote: Dr. Anthony Saidy (Childhood Friend Of Bobby Fisher)

"The worst thing in the world, the waste of human potential."

Monday, October 5, 2015

Trip Photo Goals

Been thinking over my photo goals for the coming 7 weeks in Thai.

1) 30-40 strong full body/environment vertical portraits made with the 5x7 camera for the dad dedicated "Forgotten Laughter" project.

2) 15-20 strong head only portraits made with the Roleiflex to add to the "Families of the Dump', "Forgotten Laughter", "Klong Toey Slum" and "Muay Thai Slum Boxer" projects.

3) 20 strong 35mm documentary photos made with the Leica's. To add to the "Families of the Dump", "Muay Thai Slum Boxer" projects.

If I accomplish these 3 reasonable goals. I can make 3 more submissions plus to various galleries plus be able to continue submitting work from the "Sex Worker on White" and the "My Fathers Last Days" series. I could hit different galleries with 5 or 6 submission packages at a time.

Cutting Down, Trip Preparation

Am starting to do final cut down and packing for the trip. My main focus has to be on my 5x7 gear so that is the way I am going.

My one check in bag will have:
- My hardshell Samsonite bag
- Linhoff 5x7
- 10 film holders
- Gitzo Tripod
- Manfrotto Head

Weighs in at a total of around 40lbs. I still need to add in 2-5 holders, the reflector and the changing tent (maybe the 5x7-8x10 Harrison tent not the 4x5 which I have temporarily misplaced). Throw in a few light clothes and my cheap lightweight rubber boots (which I will not bring back) and I should be around the max 50-52lbs (they usually give you a couple of extra pounds).

I will not take the small Rolleiflex tripod. which is my latest cut. The Rollei is more of a fun camera this trip, not the most important tool in the arsenal.

In my carry on bags, I need to take:

- Rolleiflex F (maybe another cut)
- Leica M6 with 35mm f1.4
- Leica R6 with 24mm f2.8
- Canon 1/2 frame camera? (maybe another cut)
- 210mm f 5.6 (5x7)
- 120mm f8 (5x7)
- 400 or so sheets 5x7 Tri-x
- 40 or so rolls of 120mm Tri-x (maybe another cut)
- 70 or so rolls of 35mm Tri-x

Hmm, where do I put my clothing? I am trying to limit myself to 3 bags. A 50lb carry on, a small check in bag on wheels and then probably a small backpack or camera bag.

If worse comes to worse I might have to cut the Rollieflex with the 120mm film. Would hate to do that, as I know I can make good photos with it, but this might happen.

Update* I purchased my rubber boots from Army & Navy online today. The cost was $13.38 CAD, I will pick them up at the nearby store. Not a bad deal, I should have ordered them earlier but I think it should be OK as I still have a fair amount of time before I depart. The boots will be going on a one way trip, I will donate them to some man at the dump before I leave.

- Get new 10 year passport, check!
- Tourist visa, check!
- Rubber boots, check!
- Clean suitcases, start packing and weighing bags, check!
- Get outdated 5x7 film ready, check!
- Test 2-5x7 lens, check!
- Test newly repaired Rolleiflex, check!
- Test new used R6 body 24mm lens, check!
- Photocopy passport, check!
- Apply for travel grant from EAC, check!
- Inform banks of ATM card use in Asia (still need to do).

Things are coming together nicely!!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Some Scans

Am back to work tomorrow, tonight thou I will spend developing film. Here are some scans from the mountain stuff shot over the last bit.

 The forest landscapes I do seem so congested, no real focal point. When  I shoot in the dump and slum with this camera, I have to make sure I have a stronger focus to the images.

I like the depth of field from the head trial shot I made, thou I would like a bit more space around the face. I will continue to figure out the balance of what works best. I need to understand what close up filter works best with children (smaller faces) and adults to get the proper headshot. I also need to understand what f-stop I should be be shooting at for the best but shallowest depth of field f2.8 or f4. Should I try shooting them handheld or with tripods, I think handheld would create the most fluid images.

Close up lens 2
5x7 neg, 210mm, N development
Tree truck, Rolleiflex F with close up lens #1

4 Possible Workshops For Next Year

I got another email today (after my return from camping) asking about a darkroom workshop. If this student follows through that will give me 3 students and 4 possible workshops for early 2016. That should go part of the way into paying for my next trip to Asia to continue working on various photographic projects. I do not make a lot of money teaching but every big helps!

Back Home

Returned home from the mountains today (a long drive). I washed and packed away the van for the winter. I hope to get it out next May or at the latest next June. I will start and run the van in the garage every month or two during the winter. Hopefully it will be in good working form next spring, when I want to take it out again.

After my coming 2 trips to Asia, after, sex bars, dumps and slums and the like I am sure some mountain air will feel good. Camping is a nice escape from some of the harsher things I see and feel doing social documentary photo work. It is nice and refreshing live in the wilds of Canada for a while and escape some of the more difficult photo moments.

Photo Idea: Wet Plate Photography Of Death Memorials

I got to thinking of two recent experiences and combining them into a photo project (project #968428). Last nights reading of Sally Mann’s work photographing the Emmett Hill civil right murder, body found location (Social documentary done on wet plate collodion), and today’s experience of photographing the memorial of flower and crosses put up for Justin Shlamp at Athabasca falls, got me thinking. What if I combined the 2 ideas, doing photos of memorials left by loved ones to those they lost, and photographing the work on wet plate. I could do this 3 different ways, ambrotypes (collodion on glass), tin types (collodion metal surfaces) or what I think might become my favourite glass negatives. 

With the glass negs from wet plate I would have access to super cool, flawed negs that I could then print traditionally in my darkroom using my 5x7 or 8x10 Durst using different developers onto a variety of photo papers. I like doing wet plates, they are visually exciting and unique when done right.

Today's shooting was pretty boring, landscapes every tom. dick and harry have shot countless times. The one time I was inspired was when I was shooting this young mans memorial. That work has a social documentary importance, a connection to real people. It is not jut more boring but pretty pictures of nature, this was about life, about losing a person, and the love and difficulty the family left behind faces. 

Hope the square format negs I shot today turn out, it is such a wonderful little camera. Harry Fleenor did a great job in California rebuilding my 2 Rolleiflex F's. I love using the Rollie F, it seems a near perfect camera.

Anyway another project that I can think about, this one is in Canada so easier to shoot, something I could work on on my non Asian trip days.

Me And The Moose

Just came out of Horseshoe lake. I had a rather miraculous experience. I was taking photos of the wall formations and underwater rock around the lake using my Rollie F. It was very peaceful, still mountain air, overcast after earlier sunshine. So there I am shooting away, I look up and what do I see 25 feet or so away? A huge freaking male moose with huge freaking antlers, the thing was super LARGE.

I cried out something like “Holy Shit!!” the moose looked up, and turned his head a bit in my direction, he was as shocked and surprised as I was. He had noticed me for the first time and after a moments stunned hesitation he bolted into the bush behind. He was gone in a flash!! This event was shocking. Sometimes you forget that in the National Parks your sharing the space with Canadian wildlife.

I guess Mr. Moose was coming down to the waters edge to take a drink and did not notice me on the nearby slightly higher rocky ledge. What a beautiful animal, never been that big a fan of moose, always felt they were rather ugly. This is the closest by far I have ever gotten to a living LARGE animal in the wild, a stunning and memorable encounter. I will remember that moment we stared at each other in surprise for a long long time. It was rather surreal, we looked at each other both stunned mouths hanging open for maybe 5 seconds (he was also probably thinking "Holy Shit!"). Two animals from totally different worlds, accidentally bumping into each other, a great experience.
Wikipedia - Moose
Rocky and Bullwinkle Cartoon
An adult male (bull) moose run from 843 -1548 lbs
The photos made today were pretty standard and boring landscape stuff. I shot the Rolleiflex 80mm f2.8 both at Athabasca Falls, and then at Horseshoe Lake. The most interesting photo compositions of the day were some swissy leafs and tree pieces in part of Horseshoe and an ad hock memorial for a young man (Justin Shlamp 24) who died at the Athabasca Water Fall.

Day 3 in Jasper

Changed to a more secluded part of Whistler campground today. Very beautiful today, the sun came out! Even with the sun out creating wonderful shadows and highlights it remains quite cold. As I type this my figures feel cool, and am wearing a winter jacket and a 1/2 ski mask (sort of look like
a puffy blue bank robber).

Did a few set ups in the trees behind the campsite with the 210mm and Linhoff 5x7. Am getting a bit more fluid with the camera and figuring out where I can store stuff in the field. When I am photographing in the Mae Sot (Thailand) garbage dump soon I want to equipment contact with the ground to a minimum. I am even thinking of some plastic bag set up to attach to the bottom of my backpack. The last thing I want is the sickening stench of the dump left on all my gear.

Am going off now to do some more shooting at a nearby lake (Horseshoe) and will visit a popular
water fall area (Athabasca Falls). Tomorrow it is back to the Land of Oil, Edmonton. Will store

the van for the winter and begin my final preparations for Thailand.

Day 2 In Jasper

The day started out overcast but has now moved to rainy, a light wind and cooler temps. Am
sitting in my camper van drinking a cup of tea and munching on some fudge. Sally Mann’s
autobiography “Hold Still” in my hand, what a fascinating read. Am reading about her current wet plate work that has a social documentary story line. She is telling the story about photographing
the area of the Tallahatchie River where 14 Emmett Hill was murdered during the African American civil rights period in America.

I love the feel of wet plate imagery, especially when those images have a social documentary
focus. You feel by viewing the work you are part of history. The shot of where Emmet Hill’s
body was found is especially eery. Maybe when I eventually get round to doing wet plate photos I can incorporate some photos with Canadian historical social documentary connections.

Me And Mick

So Mick Jagger is sort of a jerk. I am on the streets shooting speeding vehicles in the night. I am using a film 35mm Leica. and I am flowing, with the scene, shooting the photos with authority and visual strength. My feet  and camera glide as I move up and down the road following the night action, creating beautiful strong photographs.

Two men approach, one to my right another in front of me. They want my camera. I warn them to move off or I will “I’ll Eat them up! (take them out)” Then Mick approaches sauntering down the road between all of us. One bad guy asks Mick for $1500, Mick moves away, then he looks at me and says “Sorry Mate” ignoring my situation and leaves, BLOODY MICK!!

I approach one, do some kind of defensive move then twist his arm-hand back and remove the knife
and stab him in the back. The 2nd man attacks, I parry and stab him in the stomach. Meanwhile I have been able to remove my valuable and all important film from my Leica. Now with both men on the ground, and with Mick having left the scene I am alone, me, my camera and the film safe in my hand.

Then, I wake up! : ) Time to pee. It is 209am. So goes my first night camping in Jasper Alberta. Back to bed!

Blogs From The 2nd trip: Differences

Today after borrowing the National Parks pass from work, I was able to visit Jasper National park. I am camping now in Whistler campground, the weather is very nice considering it is October 1, soon in Canada the snow will fly! Hopefully the weather will hold. I brought my 80mm Rolleiflex F and my Linhof 5x7 with 210mm lens (only) to practise with.

This is another one of those strange changing worlds life experiences that I go through periodically. I am her in the quite clean air mountains of Canada, surrounded by wild animals (saw 3 Elk and 9 Bighorn Sheep on the drive in today). Next month I will be in the dump of Mae Sot Thailand photographing Burmese refugees family and children living and working in garbage. 

It is so strange! How do I reconcile those differences in my mind. When I return from Asia, I will have Xmas dinner with the family. All kinds of foods, all kinds of everything, so so different than my time in Thai will be.

Two very different worlds I will live in before 2016. You learn much about yourself when faced with those challenges and you also learn how extremely lucky you are to have choices in life, choices to do what you want, when you want and where you want.

Note* Before leaving Edmonton, I was able to pick up a Thai Tourist Visa at the conveniently located
Edmonton Thai Royal Consulate. I will not have to leave Thailand on my arrival, I have 60 days

in country, and will be staying 49. The visa cost is $40.

Another Trip

Well went off to the mountains for the last time this year. I figured since the van cost me so much money to repair I needed to get as much use out of as I could this year and in the coming years. I ended up borrowing a park pass from work and spending 3 nights in Jasper National Park. Here are the blogs I wrote there.