Was very fortunate to have been invited to Stamford International University in Bangkok to help my friend John Stiles teach a half day photography workshop. Great students and friendly staff.
Beautiful black and white images that give a poetic glimpse into the fascinating world of South East Asia. From China to the forest of Borneo these photographs will inspire the traveler within.
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From the ordinary to the extraordinary it has become vital to capture the world around me. It is my hope that through these images I am able to offer a shared moment. A moment not unlike the feeling one gets through hearing a beautiful piece of music or being drawn in to the poetry of a “good read”. Each one of these images represents a symbol of an experience that has united both me and the subject in a way that, to a certain extent, only the photographic tools used could accomplish. However, it is important to point out that the camera comes second to the relationship that I build within an environment and those subjects that give meaning to it. It has taken a long time for me to fully understand that the root passion in my photography began long before I ever held a camera. The image of the boy in the barber shop was the only shot I took after I had witnessed about a half dozen other heads of hair fall to the shop floor. When the boy arrived with his mother I had already adapted to the environment and became familiar to those around me…except the boy. He could not take his eyes of me. It is this reflection of wonder manifested within the scene that teases the answer to those meaningful questions we all ask.
Look no further than the Yangon Railway Station to find the beating heart of daily life in Myanmar’s largest city. Here you can catch the Circle Train near platform 7. Clanking along at a snails pace the trip takes about three hours and travels to the small satellite towns around Yangon. Its a great way to get a close look at real poverty while remaining in your comfort zone. Unfortunately comfort zones and good photography don’t work well together so about an hour into the ride I hoped off at Aung San Station. Well it wasn’t much of a station, just a platform and a dirt road leading to town. In fact the train did not even come to a complete stop.
You know your in an area where not a lot of foreigners venture into by the way the locals react to your presence. It could just be that Im a 6’4″ beast of a man compared to the average body size of a Burmese. So I tend to smile a lot to counter that.
Now that Im off the train and out of my comfort zone its time to get to know the people and hopefully come away with some good shots. It’s important to point out that in theses kinds of situations one must always remember to be considerate of those around you. If you are generally a considerate person then you should have no problems being a respectful photographer. If I have learned only one thing from the master photographers who came before me it is this: The camera comes second to the relationship you build with your subjects. Explore your surroundings and try to communicate with those around you. It is possible to interact with people even if both parties understand nothing that is being spoken. Having good “charades” skills can be handy as well.
Monks – At Yangon Railway Station
Monks – On Route to Yangon Station
On Board Market Vendor
2nd Class Car
Local Boy Wearing Traditional Sarong
Circle Line Passenger
Waiting to Cross
Monk Lunch #2
Circle Line – Counter Clockwise
Local Vendor #2
Circle Line – Danyingone Station
Danyingone Station #2
Danjingone Station #3
Going for a Swim
Walking the Tracks #1
Walking the Tracks #2
Walking the Tracks #3
Walking the Tracks #4
Track Friends #2
Pig Farm #2
Aung San Village #1
Aung San Village #2
Walking the Tracks #5
Track Side Vendors
Circle Line Passenger #2
Platform 7 #1
Platform 7 #2
My last job was all about documenting the day to day actions of a school for Chinese nationals in SE China. It was a job so there came those moments where it felt like a job. However successful the execution of any given event it sometimes became mundane and I would question my existence as a photographer. Then someone from the past would say to me, “Wow, you’re a photographer for a high school in China…that sounds amazing.” And then I would feel bad and quickly realize how fortunate I was to not only have a job but I had a job that I had a significant amount of passion invested in. I was in love with the idea of capturing those decisive moment of any given situation that would reveal the genuine emotions and expression of those “faces” of a job.
Recently I met up with photographer John Stiles on a photowalk in Chinatown Bangkok to explore, in street photography fashion, the unique beauty and sometimes chaotic celebrations of Chinese New Year. At times overwhelming to the senses as one could close their eyes at any given moment and feel as though they were at the epicenter of a war zone. I even felt as though we had “escaped” once we found ourselves traversing the cavernous alleyways, that seemed far removed from the sights and sounds of the main boulevards, where for me the real adventure lies. Two women preparing cubed congealed pigs blood while tending a large boiling vat of dozens of pig hearts were kind enough to pause from their celebratory duties to indulge us in a few photo ops.
I want to thank John for capturing some BTS shots of me in action as it is rare for me to see me as “the photographer” doing his thing.
Here is a gallery of some more images from the day.