The Unseen Savannah Scene Pt. II

More than a year ago I started a documentary project on the local scene of Savannah. This past quarter at SCAD I have been continuing to work on this series. It is still a work in progress but it is my favorite series to date! Here is the new work that I have shot over the past 2 months. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! 

I am also brainstorming a new title for the series so if you have any ideas, let me know!

 

The Man with the Snazzy Hat

One of my favorite portraits I have made throughout my time in Hong Kong, is a picture I took of a man I encountered several times in Sham Shui Po. He is there everyday on a particular corner of Yen Chow Street, with his little desk area, his adorable puppy and his snazzy green sequins hat. His unique appearance and confident attitude intrigued me.  He was friendly -  letting me snuggle with his sweet puppy, and happily allowing me to take his picture on multiple occasions. 

 

A weekend in Chiang Mai, Thailand

A few weeks ago I took a quick trip to Chiang Mai for a long weekend. I had been to Thailand before but only when I was young and I went to a touristy resort with my family, so I was very excited to get to go to a new part of Thailand and really explore. It was one of the most coolest trips I've been on. It's such an absolutely interesting and beautiful place. All the people I encountered there were really nice and friendly. 

On our first day when we arrived and checked in at our hotel and relaxed there a little bit. The hotel - the Rainforest Boutique Hotel - was just perfect. It has two lovely pools, big, nice rooms with king sized beds, and the whole hotel just had so much local character. We then went to the old part of the city, to the markets and got the lay of the land. Right away we were impressed with the cheap and cool things for sale in the markets. 

The next day we went to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, a ethical elephant sanctuary, home to seven rescued elephants. The youngest elephant there is 8 years old and the oldest is 55 years old. It was very important to us that we found a place that truly treats the elephants there well. No riding, no bull hooks, no abuse. We did a lot of research and picked out the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and we were not disappointed. The elephant handlers there were so friendly and welcoming, and clearly cared for their elephants. We spent the entire day meeting the elephants, petting them and getting comfortable with them, feeding them bananas and bamboo, making 'medicine balls' (a combination of white rice, bananas, brown rice, and chopped up bark, all mushed up into little balls, that are supposed to help with the elephants' digestion), playing in the mud with the elephants and then washing them in a nearby creek. The whole experience was truly amazing. 

The following few days we spent just exploring the areas, going to temples such as Wat Chiang Man, Wat Suan Dorg and exploring all the markets. 

*Unfortunately, I suck at planning ahead so I didn't buy new film in time for my trip and there is NO film to be found there so I didn't get too many pictures as I had to borrow my very generous friends' digital cameras*

Me having a moment with my new Elephant Friend.

 

Meat Market

Recently, I went to a meat market in Sham Shui Po that is colloquially called the "Red Market." This was an interesting experience as it demonstrates a lot of cultural differences between Hong Kong and the United States. It was very shocking at first. The market is indoors; it's essentially many little stands all under one roof.  When you first walk by the entrance the smell is very overpowering but once you enter you immediately get used to it. Once inside there are tons and tons of stands which you navigate between through a path in the middle which is ridiculously crowded. People are packed like sardines all trying to push past each other. My first time going inside I was shocked by seeing every part you could possibly imagine of fish, pigs and other animals - fish guts, hearts, lungs, pig hooves, ears, whole faces, etc. I was most shocked to notice at one stand where the had fish cut in half long ways with the hearts still beating. Having moved along to a different booth, I looked down and noticed a live fish, floppy around next to me in the middle of the aisle between all the stands. One huge difference between meat in Hong Kong and meat in the US is the careful, airtight packaging. in Hong Kong meat is handled casually by hand and is not refrigerated. As strange as all this seems to the average American, I do have to acknowledge how much less hypocritical Hong Kongers are about their meat consumption. They use pretty much every part of the animal, making it much less wasteful. In America we try to kind of hide the fact that what we are eating is a dead animal. We "feel bad" for the animals and want to be humane but we also don't want to see or know what goes on, as though we are not really comfortable with what we are doing. Hong Kong is much more upfront, and the meat is also clearly much more fresh. 

Overall, though I'm a big baby about meat and I can barely even eat chicken with bones in it and the limits of my comfort zone are boneless breast, I enjoyed my experience at the market and I can at least appreciate how visually interesting of a place it is (especially because they use red lights throughout the whole thing, which is why they call it the "Red Market").

Unfortunately, one of my rolls of film didn't turn out so not all the pictures I took there survive. But here's what I did capture.

 

Making Small Connections

Sometimes, especially when it comes to documentary or street photography, my favorite photos end up being based not just on the final result of the photo but on the experience of shooting that person. When I have a particularly pleasant interaction with the subject I end up being especially fond of that photograph. This has been the case with a portrait I made here in Hong Kong.

A few weeks ago I made a photograph of this very nice man at the Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar. I really liked how it turned out and decided to print the photo on 11x14 metallic pearl paper. I was very happy with the print and realized that I had a rare opportunity that doesn't often occur with street photography which is that I knew exactly where to find this man again and therefore could bring him a copy of the print. I decided I definitely wanted to do this because I really enjoyed the interaction we had. When I walked into the fabric market and passed by him he gave me a friendly smile and made me feel welcome (which isn't always the case when your a foreigner with a camera). I noticed his friendly, open attitude and asked him for a photograph and he was happy to let me take a few photos. Despite our language barrier (he speaks no English, only Cantonese and I unfortunately do not speak any Cantonese) we were able to share a nice moment.

When I brought the photo to give to him though we couldn't communicate orally he conveyed that he was very excited and he let me take a photo of him with his portrait. He also wanted to take a photo of both of us together with his print.

He also very happily pulled out all his fabric tools like scissors and rulers and such to show me.

Overall, this is a perfect example of why I love photography and how it allows you to connect to other people in a way that you might not be able to otherwise. We will probably never see each other again and we weren't even able to exchange names due to the language barrier but we each have a nice memory and a photo to remember it by.  

 

Monkeys in Shing Mun

Some pictures from my recent visit to Shing Mun.

Shing Mun has hundreds and hundreds of wild monkeys which is both really cool and pretty scary. I was able to get really close to some of these monkeys and get some cool pictures but some monkeys do not like having their pictures taken and they will lunge at you and hiss at you quite aggressively. Also, as they jump around in the trees that surround you you can't help but feel like they could jump on you at any moment. However, I did not get attacked and I did come across some very relaxed monkeys that let me get close and personal. Overall my first stab at shooting wildlife was pretty fun and exciting. 

 

Hong Kong Views

Been enjoying lots of gorgeous views here in Hong Kong! So many exciting cityscapes, beautiful landscapes and interesting hybrids where nature and urban areas coexist and contrast one another. 

 

A Day in Macau

Last Saturday I went to Macau for a day with a tour given by an architectural history professor at my college. It was a very interesting experience as it has a unique blend of cultural influences. Macau is of course a Special Administrative Region of China, however it was once administered by the Portugal. Because of this Macau has many Portuguese and Chinese attributes. There are both traditional Chinese temples such as Ama Temple, and numerous cathedrals and churches. The city's architecture is also a mix of these countries traditions with old Chinese dwellings, modern high rises and European style cathedrals, pavement and tiles. Though Macau is rapidly becoming known for casinos and gambling, it is also home to many world heritage sites. Overall, it is a very interesting and unusual place. Going there I saw beautiful temples and churches and experienced everything from eating yummy egg waffles, to witnessing the ever-present selfie culture.

 

Food: Trying New Things

Fried Dumplings

Before & After

We went to a little cafe/restaurant to have coffee and a snack and ordered some fried dumplings of some kind. We still aren't sure what kinda of meet was inside but it was pretty tasty.

Street Food

I was feeling particularly adventurous so when I passed a street food stand in Sham Shui Po I decided to be brave and try something I've never had before and that in any other scenario I wouldn't eat. I saw fried octopus and thought that was the right level of different. When trying to pay I gave them too much money and due to the language barrier we couldn't communicate the proper amount so she just put a punch of different kinds of food into a bag and gave it to me. So other than the fried octopus I have no idea what else I ate. Upon some speculation I think one of the items might have been fish balls though they had the taste of onions but a completely different consistency. The other foods in the bag I have absolutely no clue as to what they were. As someone who is a very picky eater I was worried I wasn't going to be too fond of any of the food I was trying but as it turns out I actually liked everything in the mystery bag, especially the octopus and possibly fish balls. The octopus had a surprisingly normal, not chewy texture and didn't taste fishy.

Working my way up to this...

Flattened, dried squid.

At some point before I leave Hong Kong I want to try these flattened, dried squids that I see everywhere in different forms but I think I need to work my way up to it. 

My First Week in Hong Kong

On January first I was on a plane for 17 hours, Hong Kong bound, beginning my new year with an exciting adventure. I will be studying abroad here until mid-March. I am extremely excited for my time here and to explore the city. I have already seen and done some awesome things and I know Hong Kong has many more adventures in store for me. 

Here are some photos from my first week here.

Markets 

Man Mo Temple

Shek O Beach & Village

 

Large Format Favorites

Having finally finished my fall quarter at SCAD I am now enjoying my winter break and reflecting on how my classes went this quarter.

Unfortunately for me I have a bad habit of falling in love with the most expensive photographic processes. This is exactly what happened to me in my large format technique class. It was one of my favorite classes I've taken at SCAD and I've really enjoyed learning how to shoot on 4x5 film. The quality and amount of detail that can be captured is amazing and I am quite happy with some of the work I was able to produce. I feel like after learning how to shoot large format you become more thoughtful when shooting (regardless of what you are shooting with - 35mm, digital, etc). So much goes into each individual shot on large format - setting up the camera and the tripod, metering your exposure, adjusting all your settings, closing and cocking the shutter, removing the dark slide, not to mention the fact that you only have a few sheets of (expensive) film to use on each shoot (and this is all just the capture of the image, after all of this you still have to develop and scan or print the image). All of this can start to feel a bit tedious at times but all the work that goes into it is rewarding and you become a more methodical, focused photographer. You are reminded to take your time and get the shot exactly right, to think about the framing and the composition and every element of the photograph. 

Here are some of my favorite photos I took in the class since the last time I posted. 

I did a lot of nature photography which is pretty new to me since I usually do mostly portraits and street photography. It was an interesting experience to challenge myself by trying something different. 

 

The Making of a Marine

A couple of months ago my brother became a United States Marine. These photos were taken at his graduation from basic training. 

 

Tybee with Rachel & Ashley

Here are some photos I took on my digital while I was shooting large format last week. 

First Large Format Shots

This quarter I am taking a large format technique class. It's been difficult as there is a tough learning curve but so far I love it. I've learned over the last few years that I prefer analogue photography and after taking my black and white technique class last winter I discovered a passion and interest for traditional black and white photography. I love being able to see the photograph through from start to finish - shooting it, processing the film myself and printing myself. I find the whole process fascinating. So shooting black and white large format has been exciting. We get our own 4x5 field camera for the whole quarter which is awesome! 

Here are some of my first successful 4x5 shots so far....

The Washout

Folly Beach June '16

Just got a roll of film developed from a day I spent in my favorite place earlier this summer. A storm rolled in over the ocean, making for a beautiful, dramatic landscape. 

With the intense weather this place finally looked as special and important as it truly is to me.

Having grown up moving every 3 years for most of my life I had amazing experiences but I didn't have much in my life that was consistent. My surroundings were always changing and I lacked a true sense of "home". However, almost every summer since I was little we would spend at least a week or two renting a house at the Washout in Folly Beach, SC. This place has served as almost an emotional sanctuary to me. It was one of the only places that was and still is a constant in my life; a place full of family, happy childhood memories, beautiful scenery, sun and moments spent floating peacefully in the waves. This place never fails to provide me with those moments that make you feel intensely content - that make you feel small in the face of the immense beauty of the world.

Beware of Sirens

Wormsloe Historic Site, Savannah, GA

I went back to Savannah for the week to celebrate 4th of July with friends and while I was there I went to Wormsloe Historic Site, one of the most iconic spots in Savannah to snap some photos of my lovely friend Rachel. With her dress, enchanting looks and the beautiful nature surroundings, we went for a siren-inspired shoot. I was very excited to shoot with my Lomography Petvzal lens which I haven't been able to use in a while - as always I was more than pleased with the swirly bokeh.

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my new blog! This is my very first post! I will be using this blog to post my newest work, keep you up to date with projects I'm working on and to share interesting content.