Years past I have covered the Miss Tiffany transgender beauty pageant held in Pattaya, Thailand. It is a must attend event if you are in working in Thailand.
The faithful gather to offer prayers at the Chiang Mai hilltop temple known as “Doi Sutep.”
The colors are amazing… especially in bright sunlight and the scene is part over the top tourist and part spiritual. A visit to the temple is on most western tourist’s to do list when in Chiang Mai. For me it is a great place to shoot both stills and video.
I am going into my 18th year living here in Thailand and many people have asked why I stay. Like all things that work, there has to be a reason. For me the reason has been and will always be the images. Southeast Asia has undergone change since I first arrived back in Jan of 1997 but somethings still remain the same. The Phuket Vegetarian Festival still “WOWS” me as do many of the others. Where on earth can you go watch and photograph a man having steel spikes shoved though his cheeks. Amazing….
Oh and be sure to listen to the background sounds…
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT
Me and my Fuji on assignment.
Recently I was out on assignment for “Have Camera will Shoot” using my Fuji X-T1 at Wat Dhammayaka for Makha Bucha and later that week at the Wat Bang Pra Wai Kru Tattoo gathering. What I can tell you is once I decided to go “mirror less” I have had moments where I could swear it was not a good idea. But once I get into it, do more research and make adjustments I find the quality is there as is the system for what I am shooting in my life now.
Thiry years as a wire service shooter I have covered my share of Super Bowls, Final Fours, a World Cup, Gran Prix racing in Malaysia and Japan as well as just about all manner of insanity called spot news from riots to political campaigns. Then it was about getting the image and getting it out. To compete it was necessary to stay ahead of the pack with the latest technology. When I photographed Pol Pot dead in the jungles of Cambodia I did it with an NC2000, filed the photos, 1.7 meg per image, using a Mac laptop with 24 megs of RAM, and a portable satelight dish that took about 45 minutes per image, 1000k or less, to file. But, I am retired now and who wants to carry all that heavy gear around anyway.
“Here and Now”
What I need now is system that lets me wander the alleys and streets of the world and not send out visual signal that I am anything other than just another tourist. The Fuji gear, XPro 1 and XT-1 let me do that. I pack it all into a small bag, and only take the cameras out when I am ready to shoot. People, I have noticed, react to me differently. No funny looks, no suspicion and most definately no fear. In Asia as well having a full head of almost all white hair helps, they respect age here so I use that to my advantage.
so here at “Have Camera will Shoot” we will continue to produce images from assignments we think are worth going to.
I have upgraded to the Fuji XT-1 for many reasons and I am shooting again to see if this is the one. I think it might be. Looks like a camera, all the dials and buttions make sense to an “Old School” guy like me. It is small, maybe to small, not sure just yet and it has amazing quality. The attached images are all shot with the XT-1, thanks to the ethnic minority known as the “Yellow Leaf” and their friend Gene Long who lets me come to his mountain in Thailand to have the world’s best coffee, home grown, and to his lovely bride Mary who makes the best bread in Thailand.
Salvation Mountain near Niland, California is pure America. Seems Lenoard Knight decided to build a shrine to God one day back in 1984 and never left. Made from desert sand and donated paint, Salvation Mountain is a huge tourist attraction in the desert near Niland, California, which is not far from Palm Springs. From Los Angeles it is about a three hour drive. While you are in the area the Salton Sea is a popular attraction as well. For me it was an excellent day trip for myself and my daughter and a great way to celebrate my birthday.
Kanokporn and Montri Thi got married in Ta Pra Mok, Thailand on Jan. 2nd, 2015. For them and many others it was a chance to begin the new year in a special way. Ta Pra Mok is a small village in northern Thailand about three hours drive by car due south of Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second biggest city. Like most events or rituals in Thailand it is all about having fun. Plenty of spicey food and drink combined with loud electric piano and singers. For me it was yet another chance to photograph one of the many rituals of Southeast Asia with my Fuji X Pro 1. It also gave my 10 year old daughter a chance to dance with old ladies.
Fuji X Pro 1… “Year in Review”
The New Year is staring me in the face, just a couple days away. I have no clue what I will do, what projects I will work on but lately I have the strong feeling that working for anyone other than myself will be pointless. Perhaps this is why I am turning away and going back to a simpler time. It might be more black and white. It might even lead me back to film.
The gallery shown are some of my favorite images of 2014, the year of the Fuji X Pro 1. When I laid down my DSLR’s I wanted something different, not sure this is it but I have the luxury now of being able to experiment.
All images were taken with the Fuji X Pro 1. All taken on manual focus.
Ten years ago on this date a massive tsunami struck Indoensia, Thailand, and many other places. The loss of life was unprecendented. Some 250,000 people were killed, billions of dollars in property was destroyed and countless lives damaged forever. I entered Khao Lak, Thaland early on the morning of Dec. 28th, 2004 and was stunned at what I saw. Certain details never leave you, the smell to me was one I could never seem to escape. My senses went into hibernation much the same way they did following the Oklahoma City bombing. I am retired from news photography now, my days are spent looking for exotic festivals to photograph and interesting places in Southeast Asia to visit. I feel it is important to remember however.
Cambodia is a Brutal Land. Since early in the 1960’s there has been almost constant war or civil war. I first arrived in March of 1997 on a two week trip that began in Siem Reap and ended in Phnom Penh. There were few tourist, not much food or much of anything else. What Cambodia had in 1997 was problems and still does today. But the people and their faces and especially their spirit captured my heart. Smiles were genuine and they were eager to reach out. Under the muderous rule of Pol Pot, Nuon Chea and others the Cambodian people suffered a staggering 1.7 million deaths from 1975 to 1979. Most of them were just worked to death, or died from disease and starvation. Often I have listened to accounts from men younger than me on how they watched mothers and fathers , brothers and sisters die at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. A recent account came to me during one of the current geneocide trials being held in Phnom Penh. “We were young and poor, our families were gone yet someone a group of us, all friends today, survived. We just had each other. There was nothing left of Cambodia, other than gridning poverty and we ate plenty of that”.
Today the average age of most Cambodians is 21. High School students are taught little about the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot is grandpa or grandma’s boogeyman. I am nearing the completion of a collection of black & white photographs from Cambodia that I have taken since 1997. Many still haunt me today. Many also make me smile each time I view them.
Book is out now on “Blurb” http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/5283257/8cab8084f04b65f1674415ca7d068d2ec83c7540