Saturday, October 25, 2014

Near Final Version Of Exhibition Video

Here is the near final version of my half of the "Life in the Margins" exhibition video. I need to get away from this for a while to get a fresh feel for it. I will let this version stand for now and see how I feel about it next month. Sometimes it's a good idea to stand back from something to get a, unbiased objective perspective on its quality. There is at least one segment (cut out?) of the video that I will work on, and I will probably add some more still photos but this near final version tells the story of the dump pretty well, it shows many aspects of life there. It is a bit long, I might cut it down by 1 minute.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Nice Email From Singapore

I got a nice email from a lady named Joanna in Singapore today. She was asking about one of the men I photographed back in 2012 in Klong Toey slum in Bangkok. It is nice to get feedback from people you do not know online. That is the power of photography it can reach anyone anywhere, pictures have the ability to communicate past and through countries, cultures and languages.

"Ain't Photography Grand!"

If any of you out there have any questions about anything on the blog, please go ahead and ask. I answer all the emails I get and try to help and inform in any way I can. We can all learn from each other.


Dad Looked Good Today

Tomorrow I will photograph dad with the new Ricoh GR-21 toy. Today dad looked quite well, it was a relief for me to see him looking relatively good, he sure is a fighter, I am proud of him for not giving up. I hope later in life when I go through what he is going through I can summon similar fortitude and courage. At that time I will try to think back to dad and use his example for inspiration. My father has always been a positive influence for me. When it comes to most anything I think, how would dad do it? How hard would he work to get this done? Then I try to live up to his standard.

Absolutely TINY!

Gosh I got the Ricoh GR-21 today, this thing is tiny, tiny small and light. It seems like it is not even a having a camera, it is so small. The whole camera fits into my hand and does not hang over and is only 1 thick. I would compare this machine to modern point digi cameras in size but the huge advantage for me is I can use it to shoot Tri-x. If this cameras lens lives up to its reputation I will carry this camera everywhere. If I make strong photos with this machine I might be carrying this camera everywhere for the rest of my life.  I will post some photos made with this new tool in the coming days. I am very excited by the possibilities this presence. This camera has almost no footprint and should allow me to be much more subtle and secretive when I am making photos in dangerous situations with people that are afraid of photography. The decision to purchase this tool could turn out great!

I am surprised at how quick it arrived. The camera was shipped from Japan, the Japanese are so efficient. I also ordered extra batteries and a filter for it but those shipments from other parts of the world (one is Ontario) have yet to make it to me. I got a bit of luck with this Ricoh as well, no extra charges of any kind.

Quotes: Eleanor Roosevelt

"Happiness is not a's the by-product of a life well lived."

"We all create the person we become by our choices as we go through life. In a real sense, by the time we are adults, we are the some total of the choices we have made."

"Probably the happiest period in life most frequently is in middle age, when the eager passions of youth are cooled, and the infirmities of age have not yet begun."

"I say to the young: Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, and imaginatively."

"Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Another Quick Peek At "Life In The Margins" Show Video

Here is my most recent attempt at my part of the exhibition show video. The idea is that I will make up a 20 minute video, 10 minutes of Larry's shooting location (Tondo slum in the Philippines) and 10 minutes of mine (from the "Families of the Dump series in the Mae Sot garbage dump) and let it run on a loop during the exhibition. I still have some work to do on this, trimming and tightening plus adding and subtracting. I think the video idea will be good for the exhibit, it will help establish a foundation, a setting for the viewer to base their interpretation of the photographs on. Plus as a bonus it might help raise a bit more awareness and money for the people represented.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Photo Groups, The Good, The Bad (And No Ugly)

Recently I left two photo groups I belonged to for extended periods (one for around 20 years). Groups are great for companionship, socializing and like. They are also a great resource for learning from others and helping friends. The big negative with groups is the group thought thing that can occur if your not careful. Peer pressure to conform and fit in is a very real danger in the group dynamic. Years ago I read a quote referring to Japanese society and how individuals are forced to join group thought.

"In Japan the nail that stands up gets hammered down."

I think that can be a problem when your part of any group, you are often expected to fit in and if you do something different or act differently than others in the group your peers often want (need?) to hammer you down. If your to enthusiastic or dedicated, if your to gung ho or hold strong opinions your often not accepted (assuming the majority in the group do not have those characteristics). Subject matter is very subjective and in amateur group settings most people shoot the same type of stuff the same way, there is very little stepping outside the hobbyist box. You could take photos from 10 different photo groups across the country, mix and match all of those photos and it would not really matter, most everyone is shooting mostly the same subjects in mostly the same ways. People in a group generally feel more comfortable surrounded by those exactly like themselves, this is a real danger to creativity. What can happen is that those that shoot photographs of different subjects or shoot in different ways are ridiculed, subtle pressure is applied to conform to the group dynamic. The subliminal message is. "Why are you shooting this? When everyone else is shooting mountains, old buildings and flowers. Fit in, conform, be like us."

If I was going to give advice to young-new photographers about joining photo groups I would tell them to go for it, you can learn a lot but later on once you find your way leave the group so that your not polluted by their conformity. It is important all artists try to  find their own way, their own unique paths. It is easy to sit in a room quietly with everyone else and conform but if you want to make strong work I think you need to step away from the crowd. Do not do what group thought tells you to do, do not follow the majority, do not make pictures that have been done countless times. Have strong opinions and do not be afraid to voice and defend them. Most importantly have the courage to leave a group and be on your own.

I hope that this is what will happen with me. I became more independent and opinionated and decided (with some help) to leave these groups and try and find my own path. For me it has been the best of both worlds. I met and interacted with some great people and got what I could out of the groups but now it's time to step away and move forward, hopefully in new and exciting directions. I will try to take the road less travelled (R. Frost).

Note* I am still involved with one advanced photo group made up of pros and high end fine art and documentary photographers, that work extremely hard at their craft. These guys are advanced artists and play by different rules. Being part of their group has been very beneficial, I guess these dudes would fit into the "good" in the title.

Anyway here is the famous Robert Frost poem:

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

New Type Of Seeing?

Here are two never posted shots that are a bit different for me. I am thinking of putting these pics in the magazine I am working on for the "Life in the Margins" exhibition. I might try shooting this style more with the Ricoh GR-21, higher grain, high contrast, motion-blur and unorthodox compositions. I have been thinking a lot about the quote by Daido Moriyama that I posted a few days back, here it is again.

"At first sight a photograph looks straightforward as it slices off a scene or a moment in time. But the images that photography captures are actually ambiguous. And it's because of this ambiguity that I like photography." 

Muay Thai boxer in Klong Toey boxing gym, Thailand 2013
Burmese baby held by mother in Mae Sot garbage dump, Thailand 2013

Magazine Cover Version 3

I am finding the hardest part of doing up this magazine is finding scanned negs that are big enough to use. I have plenty of images I love and want to include but the problem is finding 5 meg files of my choices. I could go and search for all the right negs and scan them all again at a higher dpi but that is just so painful to do. I am trying to get by with what I have and still produce a good product. I will have to do a few scans but want to limit how much time I spend on this project. Here is tonights capture of the magazine design back cover page on the left and front cover page on the right, this is version 3.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blurb Magazine?

I am downloading the program to make magazines on its called "BookWright". Blurb mags cost $4.99 USD  (20 pages) each and you can also upload a eBook version to Apple. The mags come with glossy paper and are supposed to look just like the real thing. I thought why not lets give it a try, maybe if this works I can make up 5 or so for the "Exposure, Life in the Margins" show. I am sure Larry will have some beautiful book-catalog type thing to show (he did 3 years ago). I need something at least half ass decent to put beside his wonderful work. This might be just the ticket, I think a mix of some favourite photos might be the best option, with a strong cover.

Here are my first attempts at a strong cover for the magazine: