Sunday, September 30, 2012

John Coffer, Good Photographer, Amazing Person

While doing research on youtube found this vid of photographer John Coffer. John was mentioned at the workshop, maybe someday I can take his workshop as well, or at least pick up his book and dvds.

Winter Tintypes?

My body Rob and I are working on a gallery submission titled "Winter". I took 4 or so photographs last year that I liked enough to add to the submission but I am thinking of going in a new direction. Why not make winter tintypes/ambrotypes around my home? I need to within 5 minutes of the darkroom before the plate dries, so cannot venture to far without a darkbox. I could do 8x10 plates of things I find near my home, snow, trees, ice, details of things that speak of "Winter".

I will probably continue with the straight film stuff but I think it would be fun and good practise to also do my wet collodion versions on the theme.

Art Not Technique

One of the things I worry about as I try some more and more distinctive techniques is that the technique will take priority to the art work. So often I see shows and magazine stories where the artistic quality of the photographs takes a backseat to the techniques involved. As I start to make these tintypes/ambrotypes I want the story to be the photographs not the technique. The art created the story being told should matter more than the type of medium/techniques used.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

My First Tintype

This is my first ever tintype a 4x5 image I made with the help of Melissa a fellow wet plate collodion student, we both learned the process last weekend. I like the soft beauty in the eyes and compelling expression in the shot, the slight blur from the 7 second exposure at F6.7 with the modern Fuji 250mm lens also helps I think.

I warmed up the image a bit using photoshop elements, the scan I did sort of made everything look pale. The adjustment in photoshop made it a bit closer to what the tintype looks like. For years I have always tried to get my photographs as sharp as possible with tintypes and ambrotypes I will probably go the other way (partly because of the limits of collodion), and do blurred photos with movement in them. This process should open up a whole new type of photography for me.

Melissa Wet Plate Collodion Student, Canada 2012

This tintype idea came to me the night before it was made, I thought it might work with Melissa and if it did I could try it again later in Southeast Asia. I think the image works so I will try it again if and when I make tintypes or ambrotypes for the "Lost Innocence" project.

Friday, September 28, 2012

$375 For Shipping!

Bostick & Sullivan quoted me a price of $375 to ship a 8x10 wet plate collodion kit to Thailand. That's a lot of doe and there would probably be another $100-200 added in duty on the Thai end. The kit costs $335 so getting it to my hotel in Thailand will cost more than the cost of the kit.  The total price to get the box to my room in Thai might be close to $1000.

None of that matters thou, I can get the kit shipped there! I can make wet plate collodion images in Thailand using the kit. The "Lost Innocence" tintype/ambrotypes have a chance to be made!!

I am happy today!

Now lets move on and really learn this process so it becomes second nature, then and only then can I start doing good work with it.

I have other important film projects to work on but knowing that this closeup wet plate stuff is a possibility is exciting. I hope in the not to distant future I can make the tintypes/ambrotypes and tell the stories I want to tell.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Inspiration behind the "Lost Innocence" Project

I was thinking today on my drive to work about the inspiration behind my wanting to do the "Lost Innocence: The gogo girls of Southeast Asia" project.

During my many trips to Thailand I have seen many girls/women new to the bars who looked scared and uncomfortable but a moment that really hit home with me happened only recently. This recent incident had a powerful effect on me and brought out an anger that I had forgotten. Since I returned to Canada in March my mind keeps going back to this memory, its something that I cannot seem to forget.

Here is the story thats helped to inspire me to try and take on this very difficult project:

Back in 1999 in Thailand I met a man named Nor (not his real name) back then he was 57 he would be around 70 at the time of the story. Nor is a sex pat, a long time resident of Thailand who goes with bargirls daily (when he was younger he would go with 2 or 3 a day). During Nors sex pat life in Southeast Asia (Phillipines and Thailand) he has had sex with upwards of 5000 sex workers (women). Nor like most sex pats and sex tourists I meet in Thailand have an exagerated fantasy world they live as it relates to how much sexual pleasure they are giving their partners, what a good time he gives the woman, how they enjoy it etc.

Whenever I go to Thailand I usually meet up with Nor one time and have a talk. The goal in meeting Nor is to try and understand a bit about who he is and to learn about his life. Just like I try to understand the sex workers life, I try and understand the sex pats/tourists. My thinking is the more I know from both sides of the equation the more honest and powerful my photographs can be.

On my my last visit to talk with Nor he asked me to take a gogo bar tour with him. I have never visited bars with Nor before but I thought "What the heck why not", maybe it will help my understanding, help the photography. That night we went to 3 different bars spending maybe 2 hours together.
The first bar is where the project influence came from. We arrive at the bar door Nor walks in like an old pro, I follow we take a seat near the long stage filled with maybe 30 naked Thai girls/women (most very beautiful) moving slowly to the very loud music. Nore look up at the women with a complacent smile telling me how the night was slow and they usually had over 50 girls on stage in this bar. Most of the dancing girls have the same tired expression, they danced mechanically and with as little effort as possible. Some of the girls smiled in our direction making an effort to find a customer but most just looked away with tired jaded eyes.

Nor who is a regular at the bar and takes girls often got immediate attention, the mamason who ran the place came over quickly with a smile bringing him the newest girl to the bar. Nor has a reputation of wanting the fresh girls, the girls new to the bar world, the girls straight out of the farm. A young lady dressed in a skimpy bikini maybe 19 years old was ushered over to our table, Nor quickly reached out with his long arms and pulled her onto his lap. I looked over and saw him fondling her with a wide smile on his face, his face close to her cheek speaking into her ear. The girl (I never learned her name) did not look scared but she did look defeated, sort of like she had just given up on everything. You could tell she was very uncomfortable being held and touched by this strange old man but she was just like a rag doll, completely compliant, she was a cheap, quiet, submissive sex toy.

This memory is what inspired me to try to take on this series. I keep seeing that young woman being held by Nor, I keep seeing in her eyes and face a  look of helplessness and resignation. How many times will this happen to this girl? How many other girls is this happening to as I type this blog entry?

I have to tell this story, I need to tell their story.

Before we left the bar that night Nor gave money to the mamason for this young girl/woman. After he took me to 2 more bars, I left him and he returned to the first bar to pick up the girl take her back to his room.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Collodion Portrait Project Title

I have been working on a title for the bargirl wet plate collodion portraits (am getting way ahead of myself here!). The first title I came up with was "Gogo Girl", then "Gogo Girl: Lost Innocence" and the latest is "Lost Innocence: The Gogo Girls of Southeast Asia" (assuming I make photographs both in Thailand and the Philippines).

I want to make the title descriptive but not to haughty taughty. I think the last title choice might be a bit pretentious but it describes perfectly what I would try to capture, the loss and pain these girls go through when they enter the world of the sex tourist bars. One day she living safe on a farm with her family and friends the next day some drunk, western sex tourist has bought her for the night and uses her as he pleases.

If I could make 10 portraits in Thailand and 10 in the Philippines (never been there), I could really say something important. I could tell the stories of these lost girls, the work might help raise some awareness. I doubt any change would come as a result of the photographs but telling important stories and starting conversations about forgotten people is always what I try to do with my photography.

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Free Trip To The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG)

I had a wonderful free trip to the VAG when I was in Vancouver. I was told by the AGA (Art Gallery of Alberta) I could use my membership to get into the VAG for free. After much confusion and talking to 3 different people at the VAG they finally buzzed me through free (saved of $20 plus tax).

I wandered the halls of the of the museum until closing time seeing some photography work that I did not like to much along with Emily Carr paintings and a great show of paintings and sculpture by Henri Matisse. I also saw work by Picasso, Van Gogh and Gauguin. My favourite work was a reclining nude by Matisse shown below.

Large Reclining Nude, Henri Matisse 1935
They had a quote from Matisse about the creation process, he said something to the effect of "Sometimes you need to put the work back on the anvil again and again until you get it right" What was cool about the reclining nude display at the gallery is you got to see previous layouts of the work in photographs, Matisse went through 22 versions of this painting until he got it just right, overpainting older version of the nude each time. Even the greats need to think and rethink and work their tales off to get it right. It fits into my theory that working harder than the next guy will get your artistry to another level.

I also saw this wonderful blue period painting (my first time seeing a real blue period painting) by Picasso. The painting was much bluer and vibrant in real life, it just glowed! and called you to it from across the gallery.

Woman With Bangs, Pablo Picasso 1902
And this Gauguin portrait.

Woman With A Mango, Paul Gauguin 1892

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Workshop Over!!

Well the workshop is over, I am about to get on the flight back to Edmonton. Jody Ake the instructor did a wonderful job teaching the 9 students who attended. I feel I learned a lot and I hope this workshop will help speed me through some of the early learning curve pit falls for the wet collodion process.

I already have a project idea in mind. I was thinking of doing a series of bar girl/gogo dancers, tight face shots. I would focus on shooting new workers concentrating on their innocence and vulnerability. I might make the photographs in Thai or even the Philippines. More thought needed on this possible series.

Another possibility is to make enlarged ambrotypes (glass collodion) using my 8x10 enlarger and a inter-positive made from the ambrotype (I think that will work). I am not sure what the quality will be going from 8x10 to 11x14 or 16x20 but its something I will probably experiment with. I might also just shoot small 8x10 tintypes or black glass ambrotypes, heck even glass negative collodions and silver gelatin prints might be the way I go. Lots of options, lots of thought needed.

The exciting thing is the workshop is done and I am on my forward into the world of collodion wet plate photography!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Eyes Closed Heads Idea

Want to work on shooting several eyes closed head shots with the view cameras. When the eyes are closed it creates a relaxing contemplative viewing experience.

Sea Of Faces Photograph Idea

Want to make a sea of faces photograph. Probably will shoot it with the 35mm and fast shutter, a tight shot of a large group of walking faces (street shots). I need to find a very busy location with hundreds of moving faces, China? India? New York?

Am Attracting Vancouver Ladyboys! Why?

Not sure what the deal was but in Vancouver this trip (as happens to me often in Thai) I attracted the attention of 2 ladyboys. One was on the escalator and outside street of a Chapters bookstore the other was in a restaurant. I guess ladyboys are always looking for guys but heck I wish I was as attractive looking to 100% women (as the Thais say). Whats the deal with all the ladyboy notice I seem to get? Maybe I am sending out some kind of ladyboy attraction vibe that gets noticed, how do I switch to the 100% woman attraction vibe? Might need to google that one.

The ladyboy in the Chapters might have been Thai, I noticed her constantly playing with hair (as lady boys tend to do) and when I saw her up close from the front I am 90% certain she was a ladyboy, an attractive one. After my little is she a he or she stare down the Ladyboy followed me and looked at me 5 times or so (sending a not so subtle message). If I lived in Vancouver I would handed her my card to do some photos, she seemed like a nice person. I would have loved to photograph her.

The Good And Bad, Shooting With A Nikon F5

Shot the F5 Nikon with the 20-35mm lens for the first time in a long long time. I wanted to give this camera setup a try leading up to my next series of photographs in Thailand. I liked the camera it has many advantages.

Speed of shooting with the motor drive and auto focus.
Reliable auto flash for fill and bounce flash.
Fast film change out.
20-35mm focal lens, for quick composition.
Sharp Lens

Heavy, thing ways quite a bit.
Noisy, motor drive makes noise
Larger more intimidating camera (subjects might not like being photographed with it, looks to pro like).
20-35mm lens is slow only a F2.8

Some older photos made with this camera/lens.

Cambodian Tool Kok Slum Baby,  Phnom Penh 1999
Girl Begging, Bangkok 1999
Young Girl Begging, Bangkok 1999

The Power Of Grain

Looked at a book of Marilyn Monroe photos this trip, filled with beautiful images but the one that struck me most was a grainy tight head shot. I think grain is under appreciated it can create a powerful mood in a photograph, it allows you to tell a story in a unique expressive way.

Thirst For The Darkroom

Being out this last week looking at all the gallery work and seeing many powerful photographs in books, built up my thirst for the darkroom. I kept on thinking what the f-ck am I doing here, why am I not working in my darkroom printing? I need to be printing, creating stuff in my darkroom. Now that I am back home I will get into the dark very soon, and try to quench that thirst.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Off To Learn Wet Plate Collodion

Well I am off for my first ever workshop, I will be learning Wet Plate Collodion with Jody Ake at the the Luz Gallery in Victoria, BC.

Hopefully I can get a good base of understanding on how all this collodion stuff works. A base I can later  build on to create my own important body of wet plate photographs.

Quote: Patti Smith (Poet, Musician)

"Taking my pictures is really a very simple matter. I take pictures of things I want to see. I don't profess to be inovative, I am not interested in being inovative. I am interested in having relics of special moments or things that have very spiritual or special meaning."

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Need To Shoot The 35mm More

When your working with a 35mm camera it allows you so much freedom and spontaneity, I need to work more with the 35 in the future.

Klong Toey Slum, Bangkok 2011
Poipet Cambodia 2011
Poipet Cambodia 2011
Poipet Cambodia 2011
Klong Toey Slum, Bangkok 2011

Poipet Cambodia 2011
Poipet Cambodia 2011
Klong Toey Slum, Bangkok 2012
Klong Toey Slum, Bangkok 2011 
Klong Toey Slum, Bangkok 2011

Jubilee Submission PDF

This was kind of nice, found it last night. The Jubilee Auditorium is using my young monk photo along with 2 paintings from other artists in their PDF online call for submissions.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

New Submission Idea

Today on the drive to work I thought of a submission idea. I will make 6 large diptychs (12 20x24 photographs).

Ti-2007 and 2009
Mon-2007 and 2009
Jiji-2007 and 2009
Betty-2007 and 2012
Bla-2009 and 2012
Long-2007 and 2009

These 12 photographs 2 of female, 2 of male and 2 of ladyboy sexworkers would be framed diptychs of the same person made in 2 different years. All photographs would be large warmtone 20x24 prints.

I would be able to show the same person over time, and show them in different ways. It would be sort of a dual portrait of who they are. I might also include the ladyboy Mat.

Not sure on a title, not sure on how I would write up the artist statement, need to think more on this tonight. I would submit this to all the big galleries/museums who have rejected me lately, no use in submitting it to places I have been shown (been there done that). I need to continue to try to get the work into new venues, onwards and upwards should be the goal, no how many rejections I get. I need to get the photographs seen by as many people as possible.

Some possible negs I could use, I have many photos of all the people listed, so have many types to choose from:

Jiji 28 Ladyboy Sex Worker, Thailand 2007
Jiji 30 Ladyboy Sex Worker, Thailand 2009 
Ti 28 Male Sex Worker, Thailand 2007
Ti 30 Male Sex Worker, Thailand 2009
Long 25 Female Sex Worker, Thailand 2008
Long 27 Female Sex Worker, Thailand 2009
Mat 26 Ladyboy Sex Worker, Thailand 2009
Bla 21 Female Sex Worker, Thailand 2009

Burmese Coming Slowly

The Burmese language stuff is coming slowly, I listen to the opening chapters of my Burmese CD every work day and little by little am remembering how to say stuff. Now the words I have studied makes some sense to me, when I first listened to the Burmese speakers everything seemed so fast and difficult, now I am able to understand, remember and repeat things a bit better.

I am not going to learn Burmese from a CD but it will help me with the basics and it will help me when I hear Burmese live in Mae Sot. I should be able to communicate on a very basic level, hopefully after my 7 week photo project that level of understanding will be better.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Quote: Wynn Bullock

"A picture fails if it does not arouse emotion, either positive or negative."

I Hope I Am Up To It

My mind night after night goes forward to being in Mae Sot and making photographs of the "Families of the garbage dump" Can I do this well, can I tell the stories that need to be told? Its such a responsibility to get this done right, to make these important photographs and to tell the stories of these people. I worry I will fail in this duty, that I will not live up to my responsibility.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Not In Shots Magazine, Not At Art Gallery Of Hamilton

Did not get into the portrait issue of Shots Magazine unfortunately, they do have some very nice work in the issue, I like about 50% of the portraits selected. Will try again in the future to get shown there.

A portfolio issue is the next  Shots Magazine submission, I might try a ladyboy sex worker  portfolio submission.

Also got a rejection letter from the Art Gallery Of Hamilton, not sure what I submitted there, it was a old submission, maybe the sex worker white background portraits, or some of the 35mm Klong Toey imagery.

"I was pleased to review your written materials and the images  you included, and congratulate you on your achievements those far. We are, however, unable to accommodate an exhibition of your work at the AGH, given our current mandate and commitments."



Curator of Contemporary Art

I wonder if I can ever get into places high end places like this? Will some day some of these curator people actually be contacting me first? Will they someday be doing the ones begging (instead of me begging) for the chance to show the work? Doubt it but who knows.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Beauty Of 8x10 Portraiture

Got up an hour early before work today so I could do a bit of printing. I made my first contact RC  work prints of 8x10 available light portraiture today (My Father at 80 Series). I LOVE THE LOOK!! an 8x10 neg gives. I now understand a bit better why Jock Sturges, Sally Mann and Alec Soth use a 8x10 for their portrait work, there is a unique and feel to these large format negs, something different than I get with my 4x5.

I will make fine fibre warm tone prints in the coming days, they should be beautiful!

Ain't Photography Grand!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Larry Louie Teaching At Vistek In Edmonton

My friend, Larry Louie is giving a class and possibly some mini critiques at Vistek in Edmonton, cheap and well worth it at the $75 price. If you want to learn from the best photographer in Edmonton maybe the province, take a class with Larry.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tired But Now I Can Do Photography

Well its over, 11-12 hour night shifts followed by a one day turn over to 2-12 hour day shifts (11 nights and 2 day shifts in 14 days). I got 1/2 a stat day and 6 days of OT in all of that, all money earned I will spend on my large 8x10 Tri-x film order, I think I will get enough money to pay for about 1/2 my film purchase.

Slept last night like the living dead, moaning and rolling and stumbling about a few times  when nature called. Feel not to terrible this morning, only a slight headache. Today I want to do some yard work, maybe a bike ride to the AGA (Art Gallery of Alberta) and later some darkroom time. Hopefully over the next few days off I can also shoot the 8x10 Master camera and develop some more film. I have 4 days off before I go back to another 7-12 hour night shifts.

Still thinking of taking a second job to help pay for the Mae Sod Burmese project and other things. I hate to give up my photography hours thou, I love that time so much, another job will cut deep into the time I can spend on pics.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

OT Shifts

Well I have been working a series of OT security of 6 OT shifts. I have the final to long busy 12 hour shifts today then I can have a few days off to work on my photography. All the money from the shifts will go to the purchase of 8x10 Tri-x. Can't wait till I am through these last 2 shifts and I can make some photographs (want to work on my father at 80 series) and work in the darkroom, am almost there!

Made a nice CD of 9 Nina Simone songs yesterday, so much much passion in this woman's singing. I took Mpeg-4 vids, converted them to MP3s then converted to Wave files before placing them on a CD I can listen to in the car, work and in the dark.

Also made up a Burmese audio CD that I can listen to at work and in the car, the slogging through learning this language is extremely difficult and slow. Slow and steady wins the race, anything I learn before I photograph in Mae Sot is a bonus.