weekend roundup: photography book signing and a rummage sale

This weekend, the one I planned for the past nine months to spend in Grant Park photographing Lollapalooza, was spent doing anything but shooting music in Grant Park.

On Friday, my friend Miles text me to see if I wanted to meet him and go to a book signing for his friend Brielle Collins. She travelled recently and published a book of images taken in Tel Aviv, Thailand and India.

I documented the experience just a little and will post pictures below.

I don’t own many books on photography, and I wasn’t in a position to spend the money to buy the book. I liked looking through its pages, and you can browse some of the images here.

What was inspirational about the book and the photographer was that this person spent a good amount of time traveling and her destinations were not posh resorts. There is a gritty reality to the images that comes through.

I love travel photography from other photographers, like Ming Thein, and I don’t feel Collins work is the kind that appeals to me as much. But I respected what she did and how she’s choosing to display it.

On Saturday and Sunday, Tina grouped up with our neighbor Dan and they housed a rummage sale on our front sidewalk. I helped with the manly man work of carrying some of the heavier stuff, but for the most part, I wanted this to be Tina’s project.

She and Dan had lots of fun, meeting all kinds of random neighbors.

One guy walked up with a 16 oz. open can of Miller Genuine Draft and brought a set of roller blades.

Another guy bought a long bench from Dan that wouldn’t fit in his car without removing a black plastic OPEN sign that lit up. He brought it over to Dan and said, “Do you wanna buy this from me? I just bought it …”

Dan said, “No thanks.”

So the guy just said, “Here, take it.”

Ten minutes later, a guy bought the OPEN sign for $10.

We sold some stuff that I never thought would sell, like an unworking 2nd generation iPod. Tina sold a photo of mine depicting a barn on the campus of where I went to college. It was in a damaged frame, and frankly, I hated it.

I was able to do a nice run and swim yesterday. And in the evening, we met up with Brothers in Law Michael and Jason and had sushi at our new favorite joint, Sakura Teppanyaki & Sushi. The service is mediocre at best, but the sushi is great, fresh and well presented.

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Tuesday Inspiration: Travel your ass off and Make it Count

#makeitcount

Over at the Daily Wh.at, they posted the above video and wrote:

When Nike gave Internet video maker Casey Neistat a hefty advance payment and orders to #makeitcount, it’s unlikely this is what the company had in mind. Nicely done.

They also traveled that many places in 10 days.

I found the video inspirational and fun. It got criticism on YouTube. But screw them.

I also found this article called, Practical Tips from 4 Years of Traveling The World. You should read it.

There are 21 great pieces of advice, including this:

11. People are more alike than you think.

My preferred way of connecting to people is via food but regardless of your passions or interests, travelling will also open your eyes to the fact that we are all more alike than we think. Yes, there are cultural differences and traditions that differ – vastly – but the basics of human emotions and the kindness in a smile are omnipresent, and a beautiful reminder of our shared humanity. Be it the Laotian woman on my bus to Vientiane who only wanted to talk about how men in Thailand thought they were better than men in Laos, to the soldiers in the Philippines who wanted to know how we in Canada survived without growing our own rice, to the family in Bolivia who asked why tourists didn’t swaddle their babies on their back, Bolivian-style. Threads of common human queries – love, food, parenting, and many more – resurface again and again. Ask questions, encourage people to ask them of you. In the end, these knots of human connection are what makes the world go round.

And these:

15. Packing does not get easier.

I wrote a piece on long term travel and the things it doesn’t fix. In it, I talked about how, 2.5 years into my travels, I still hated packing. It’s now 4 years into my travels. Guess what? I still hate packing.

16. Not planning too far ahead leaves you the flexibility to need to take the wonderful opportunities that come your way.

I get quite a few emails asking if I opted for a round-the-world ticket or whether I plan as I go. I’ve addressed this in the resources page but I want to reiterate it here because I think it’s important: don’t plan too far ahead. Over and above the undeniable fact that I thought I’d be back in North America by now (and not still travelling), so many of the places I loved beyond belief are the ones that weren’t even on my initial, vague itinerary. There’s nothing wrong with planning, or doing research, or even booking longer-haul flights if you have a set schedule to follow. But leave as much as you can to as-you-go travel. You’ll meet people who wax poetic about a specific destination and want to go there; you’ll decide you need – NEED! – to go to the Philippines with your brother because you’ve become fascinated by a small primate that you need to see in person; you will find yourself and your mind expanded by the sheer impossibility of everything being available to you, if only you could choose where to go first.

It is a scary thing, to leave it open to the whims of your brain as you travel, but a worthwhile one.

My goal is not to be a stay at home photographer. It’s to travel the world endlessly with cameras on my back, exploring this great big earth that God created (honk).

And when I’m done or it’s done with me, I’ll measure my life in these things.

Let’s do this.

Imagination

Imagine you were born on the island of Bali in a little village on a rice farm. The likelihood that you would become a fervent Hindu is 99.9%. You would grow up, learn your parents’ craft and religious traditions. You would grow strong, get married and teach your children the same thing.

Imagine, instead, that you were born just a few miles to the east and west of Bali on one of the two neighboring islands on a rice farm. The likelihood that you would grow up as a Muslim is almost 100%. The cycle would continue through your children and theirs.

Imagine, if your egg were fertilized just a short plane ride to the north in Cambodia or Thailand. The likelihood that you would be Buddhist is high.

Imagine if you were born on the other side of the earth in America, you’d likely grow up in a Christian home.

Because all of your life, the religion that is prevalent where you were born is the one you assimilate. And that assimilation paints your view. And that view informs the way you debate topics like the origin of the universe or whether you agree with abortion or not.

But imagine again, you were born in any one of the Asian countries on a rice farm. And if you weren’t already doing so, imagine yourself as a little girl. Your family is poor. When you come within reach of your teen years, your father decides he can sell you to a brothel and get a bit of money to pay bills, buy food, and get by.

You, an almost teen, have no choice. You’re sold and you go to work somewhere that entertains wealthy businessmen in the large city of your island or country. There you learn to make a man feel like a man. You learn to fake enjoyment when you wrap your arms around men of all shapes. You learn to control your gag reflex when you taste their semen in your mouth.

You learn not to scream too loud when they rip your vaginal walls or when you’ve been fucked so many times you can’t even remember the man you were with before this one.

If you want me to imagine that the god of the bible, or the god of the koran, or the Buddha, or the deities of the hindu religion exist, you have to first explain to me the phenomenon of the ovarian lottery and how you, yes you, avoided getting fertilized a girl on a rice farm in South Asia, and the god, the Buddhas, or the gods didn’t intervene when the monsters came knocking at your door and entered through every opening they could find.

Is it really, by the luck of the draw or a divinely-guided universe that you were born where you were when you were and how you were?

Because if god is in control, and he guided the realistic scenarios above to happen, or let them happen, that, dear readers, is an atrocity.

I do not believe god exists, because if he did, he doesn’t deserve my worship. Or yours, for that matter.

If you do worship him, is it because you aren’t getting raped right now by a business man in Asia?

Imagine that.

The ovarian lottery

When this little girl won the ovarian lottery, it placed her among the Karen tribe, the longneck women of Burma who live in Thailand (outside of Chang Mai).

Perhaps you have a little girl or boy who won the ovarian lottery. At night, he or she has a warm bed to sleep in and multiple meals a day.

This little girl lives in a camp, on display to tourists, making money of exhibitionism.

She also likely doesn’t know who the heck Yeshua is.

But she knows the value of sitting up straight and posing for a camera.

Ovarian Lottery is a term I posted about here.

Sleeping with the fishes

Maybe that’s not an entirely appropriate headline. No one I know has died.

I’ve been looking through photography from last year’s trip to Thailand and Cambodia. Since we aren’t a culture who doesn’t often leave the head on served food, I wanted to post this shot of an entrée we ate outside of Chiang Mai.

I also recently posted these shots at my pro site. You should check ’em out!

Only three days left in paradise

I admit. I came to Hawaii as a skeptic. I thought I would get here, and it would be like Thailand or the Philippines. I would enjoy it to a point, but there would be a limit to how much time I would want to spend looking around.

Hawaii is awesome. It’s got all the tropical amenities of those foreign tropical lands, but with all (or most of) the American attributes that make you feel safe and free. There is never a nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you’re putting yourself in harm’s way if you wander around alone. Or after dark.

Yesterday was fun. We’re staying with Tina’s friend Kim and her three kids, Jonah 11. Miles is 9 (I think), and Delilah is 3. They’re all great kids and we have spent almost all our time with them so far.

On Wednesday, I went running, and both boys were mad that I didn’t wake them up to go running with me. Thursday I bent and said, “Okay, let’s go.” When Miles came out with no socks on, I said, “Are you sure you want to go without socks?” He said yes.

Tina, Jonah, Miles and I left the house at 8 a.m.

Miles had a blister within the first half mile, and Tina decided to go back with him.

Jonah pushed on. He insisted, despite my doubts, that he wanted to run the full 1.65 to the beach. It was all downhill which helped. We got to a beach access point and ran onto the sand. We stood there for a minute, and I said, “Do you want to go back or run on the beach?”

He wanted to run on the beach. We ran to the next public access point. After we got back on the street, Jonah said, “Running on the beach was the hardest part.” And I said, “Wait till you run back up the hill we just came down.”

Jonah pushed himself. I pushed him too, and we got back up the hill pretty quickly, stopping only a couple times. When I saw a yard full of sprinklers, I said, “Follow me!” and we ran over and hit all of them. I did them twice.

In the afternoon, we trekked up to the peak of 10,000 ft high volcano called Haleakala. It was beautiful. Below are more pictures.

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Iconography

Looking back through my shots from Thailand, I’m overwhelmed by the sheer volume of shots. I still haven’t had time to comb through as much as I’d like.

Here’s one I found this morning. The attempt was to show contrast in iconography. In the foreground, fat and skinny buddha. In the background, Colonel Sanders. It’s a lot to think about … at least for me. I’ll just pass along the image for right now, perhaps discuss it another time.

Below that is another shot I found of a little old man on the street.

Bon appétit.

The Grand Palace, Bangkok

Yesterday we were going to try to visit some people locked in an immigration prison in Bangkok, but it was closed on Sunday and we were turned away.

When life gives you Thai lemons, you make Thai lemonade; we went sight seeing instead.

No one speaks English here, so communicating that we wanted to sight see was very difficult. But finally, our cabbie took us on a 45 minute ride through the city only to end the ride at the most beautiful area that we’ve seen so far.

It was called the Grand Palace, and more information can be found here. From wiki:

The Grand Palace (Thai: พระบรมมหาราชวัง, Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang) is a complex of buildings in Bangkok,Thailand. It served as the official residence of the Kings of Thailand from the 18th century onwards. Construction of the Palace began in 1782, during the reign of King Rama I, when he moved the capital across the river from Thonburito Bangkok. The Palace has been constantly expanded and many additional structures were added over time. The present King of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, however, resides at the Chitralada Palace.

Inside the gates, there were several groups of students on a mission to interview foreigners who speak English. They need to practice their language and get it on tape to show their professors.

I was interviewed three times.

Here’s a shot my dad took.

And here’s a shot I took of the fellow interviewing me.

More updates soon.