Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I Have Too Much Time To Think Now

I feel I have too much time to think now. With all these night shifts back to back I keep thinking of dad, thinking of the good and sad things the missing and lost chances. All of that is gone now forever. I feel I am sinking into a depression. Preparing the prints for the shows and seeing dad everyday in the printing, spotting, matting and framing ain't helping matters.

I need to get out and make new photos, distract myself from negative emotions. The trip thou is well over 2 months away yet. I count the days until I can throw myself into my photography but it all seems so far far away.

Quote: Two Burmese Cameramen

This is from a conversation recorded on video of student/journalists as they were filming the 1988 uprising in Rangoon (Yangon). The Burmese Junta had ordered the military to use live ammunition and shoot the protestors.

First camera man speaking to the second cameraman as soldiers approached preparing to fire on them.
"What shall we do?"
Second camera man.
"Keep on filming until they shoot us."

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sending Out Emails To NGOs

Spending my night shift tonight sending out a email asking for help gaining access to the border refugee camps in Thailand. Send out the email below to numerous online NGO type agencies. Doing this in the blind as I have no official contacts or connections. Doubt anything will come of it, but I have to try to to get access. These people are too important to be forgotten, their lives matter too much.

It is amazing how hard it can be to just want to help people. I just want to make photos and then donate them back to the NGO for fundraising, raising awareness of these forgotten people etc. I am not good at the business part of things, selling myself with the upper echelon snobby management types. Am more of a down to earth type of guy, who is better face to face with ordinary people. This will probably go no where but I got to try, I will see what happens.

Here is a sample of the email I am sending out. Different places get slightly different names, I change off OxFam to whatever organization I am writing:

Social Documentary Photography

Hello. I am not sure I am in the right place. I am trying to get access to the refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border near Mae Sot Thailand (Mae La, Upien Mai). I want to do a series of photographic portraits using a large view camera of the residents. My plan is to photograph hundreds of residents in the various camps and then donate the pictures to Aid organizations like OxFam Thailand. I am hoping the photographs can be used in a positive way to help the people in the camps. My work is 100% voluntary, the photos would be given/donated back free of any charges.

Please advise on the best way to achieve and ID what would allow me in and out of the camp entrances. I have extensive knowledge of Thailand, can speak and write Thai fairly well and am currently learning Burmese. I would like to learn some of the Ethnic group languages but like Karen but cannot do that from Canada. I can forward a CV as needed as well as samples of previous social documentary photography work.

I have photographed along the border and in the Mae Sot area previously, the photos below are from 2013, see the attached photograph which were made just outside of Mae Sot. I will be in the Mae Sot area for 7 weeks starting at the end of October 2015.

Thanks very much ..............

Update* Got a couple of replies from folks, forwarding me to other agencies, probably sent more than 10 emails now. Feel like I'm swinging in the dark trying to hit a 100mph fastball. At least I am trying, never hurts to try. I have 7 weeks to shoot in the Mae Sot area, if I could get access to the camps I would probably spend most of that time photographing there, everyday for 10 plus hours a day. I would also probably go back to continue the work on my next 5 week trip. Trouble is, how to get access?  How to get someone to trust you enough to let you in?

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Mr. Double AA

I am very appreciative of the galleries that are going to show and have shown my work. I do feel and know thou that I am about at the Single A and Double AA level of the art world when it comes to exhibition sites. I need to try to creep up to the Triple AAA level in the next few years. Maybe the coming work on "Forgotten Laughter", "Lost Innocence" and "Migrant Worker (a project I have not talked much about here on the blog but continue to think about), will raise me to the next level of galleries. That next level are larger established more prestigious galleries and museums (the acronym crowd), quite a bit below the major places like the National Gallery in Ottawa, the Tate Modern in London or the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MOMA).

I do not know if I can ever reach the major leagues but Triple AAA is certainly doable, a strong possibility. To tell the stories of my subjects at that level would really be something, something I owe them. First thou I need to make the photographs, that starts in November. Brick by brick builds the grand cathedral.

3 Prints Framed And Matted

Well tonight at work I managed to mat and and frame the 3 prints I was spotting yesterday. Two of these photos are going to the Rosebud show at the Akokiniskway Gallery and one is going to the Open Digital 2015 at the Edmonton and Calgary Jubilee Auditoriums. I used existing mats that I had cut before, they are in decent shape, the only negatives is slight over cuts, no biggy.

I still have to do at least 2 maybe 3 prints of dad for the Rosebud exhibition. One of dad in the coffin as the final shot and probably one of tight movement shots. I might also do another photo, possibly a close up with a comforting hand or maybe one of the 5x7 photos. I could also print the photo of mom with dad a few minutes after he passed away, thou that negative looks extremely difficult to print. On my 3 days off this week I will spend some time in the darkroom and also some time on my next work week and the following week off. I need to get this all ready by around September 14,15 when I drive down to Rosebud. The hanging is supposed to be on the 15th, and the opening night on the Friday the 18th, I am doing an artist day(talk) with the work in the gallery on September 19th.

Here are the 3 framed and completed prints from tonight's work. I wish I could show them to dad.

Update* The Digital Open 2015 print is wrapped up and ready to go. The gallery people asked me to put it in bubble wrap for the truck ride down to Calgary which I have done. It is out of my hands now, I will go to the opening night in Edmonton and might try and check out the print (exhibition) in Calgary Southern Jubilee Auditorium when I am down South for the Rosebud exhibition in September. The $135 artist fee will go towards my airline ticket back to Thai. I hope they hold this event next year as well.

Dad in barred light #1, Dad in barred light #2, Dad in pain, all shot February 2015


Tonight at work between building and perimeter patrols I am spotting some prints for the Rosebud and Open 2015 Digital exhibitions. With lots of practise spotting has become easier, I am slowly improving at this slow sometimes boring task. Tomorrow I will frame the prints, hopefully I will have some cut mats that fit, if not I will bring in the mat cutter and mat board on Monday's night shift.

There are some advantages to working security nights!

Spotting dad in barred light

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Shopping, Oh The Joy!

You have to prepare for the strangest things on these photo trips. I usually try to keep my baggage weight down. I buy as much as I can in country, shampoos, toothpaste, shaving stuff can all be bought at the local Thai 7/11. I only take 2 maybe 3 pairs of pants, and 4 or 5 shirts and underwear. As for socks only 1 pair usually for the plane ride there and back, in country I do not wear socks. I only take one piece of footwear with me, some good quality leather sandals.

Shooting in places like a garbage dump changes that traveling light dynamic, I need rubber boots of some kind and wear socks with the boots. I had a pair of 1/2 rubber boots that I wore my last 2 trips to the dump but boy do those babies stink now. They have the this sickly disgusting smell from too much time walking in garbage, animal crap and other nasty sh-t.

Best to get a new pair, so I am rubber boot shopping today, oh the joy of it!: )) I would buy the boots locally but my feet are too large and I cannot buy my size of boot in Thailand. I will have to lug these things all the way from Canada. Found some tonight online, lightweight and cheap. I will try to get them next week on one of my 3 days off. I think after I am done with them this coming trip, I will donate them to some big footed Burmese man working the dump. A nice thing to do, and it will cut down on my return travel weight.

Update* Hmm I have resorted to writing about rubber boots on my blog. I have been away from the action too long!!

$14.99 CAD rubber boots from Army&Navy in Edmonton, size 12

Workouts Continue, 7 Chinups

My work outs continue even after the loss of my bike. I am up to 7 chin up which is a nice number. I hope to get to 10, not sure I have ever been able to do 10 chin ups in my life before. As to pull ups I can do 3 depending on the positions of hands, the father apart they are the more difficult the pull up. Doing lots and lots of stairs, starting to hate looking at stairs but it will help me in the end.

Over the last few days I have eased up on some of my bending type training as my left knee was getting sore. I decided it was better to be safe than incur a more serious injury. I hope to start up all the bending left knee stuff tomorrow or Monday. Next Sunday when I am off work I will go swimming again, also want to do some golf next week if possible, probably only the driving range. Less than 3 months to go and I will be in Thai, need to train as hard as I can now without injuring myself.

Wild Kingdom Night

Tonight has been a bit of a wild kingdom affair at work. Usually on my security night shifts I do multiple driving patrols around the plant. On the 2 drive rounds tonight I spotted 2 deer, 4 adult Canadian geese, 10 young Canadian geese and 7 or 8 rabbits.

Over the past years during my nightly patrols I have seen, owls, hawks, falcons (we have a peregrine falcon nest on site), coyotes, deer, moose, skunks, porcupines, fox's and hundreds of rabbits.

Tonight is my 6th of 11-12 hour nights in row, feel tired but plugging my way through. At least the wildlife is fun to watch!

Upiem Mai Refugee Camp?

There is another refugee camp about 87 km South of Mae Sot called Upiem Mai (Mae La is 55 km North). Upien Mai had a huge fire that caused many deaths back in 2012. Sent out a bunch of emails to NGO type folks and to 3 different photographers who have made pictures at Mae La and Upien Mai. Hopefully something will come of these emails. I am learning more about the camps and people who live there so that has to be a good thing, knowledge is always power. I believe each camp holds over 12000 people, mostly of the Karen ethnic group (like at the dump).

If I cannot photograph at Mae La maybe I can at Upiem Mai. If it does not happen this trip maybe the contacts will be made and things will be learned that will allow for photos to be made on a subsequent trip. I have to figure out some way to get this done. Brick by brick builds the grand cathedral.

Upiem Mai refugee camp