about my photography
My mum gave me a Polaroid Super Swinger instant black-and-white camera and a paper stapler on my seventh birthday… the stapler (and the staple in my finger) were quickly taken from me, but I got to keep the camera, and with it, the means to stop time in my own world by simply pushing a button.
I flew to India in 1986 when I was 23 with a 1972 Nikon F2 and a few rolls of infrared black-and-white film, just to see. I chose infrared black-and-white film in an attempt to portray an Asia of old. Infrared film is sensitive not only to visible light, but also to light from the infrared spectrum (that’s invisible to the naked eye), which accounts for its dreamlike look when printed… a look that could nowadays be mistaken for after-effects created by computer software or apps. Yet photographers have been experimenting in this unseen dimension for over a hundred years — the first infrared photos were published in the Photographic Journal of the Royal Photographic Society in 1910. After my first trip I became lost to the notion of sacred places once considered at the ends of the Earth, manifesting into photographs. The fusion of infrared film and subject matter became a bridge on which to cross over the boundary of my imagination, a way of portraying Eastern mysticism in a tangible form.
Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos followed soon after.
In recent years my photography has crossed now and again from a personal project to creative commercial assignments.
My first job in Asia was up a forty foot pole in a crows nest overlooking the Chao Phraya River, taking photos of the 1996 Royal Barge Procession for the Tourist Authority of Thailand. Other things that have kept my spirit alive over the years were having my Asian portfolios published in ZOOM international fine art photography magazine in 1997 and 2004, exhibiting through them twice at Wave Gallery in Brescia, Italy, and other memorable exhibitions I was fortunate enough to be invited to do before and after.
My 2001 self-published book Red eye was a watershed of photos and self-depreciating travel stories that by chance came into the hands of Bill Bensley, who then used my Angkor portfolio for the interiors of the Hotel de la Paix (now the Park Hyatt) in Siem Reap.
In 2007, I was a contributing photographer to the book Thailand: 9 Days in the Kingdom, in honour of King Bhumibol Adulyadej on the occasion of his 80th birthday. Fifty-five photographers, included James Nachtwey, Eric Valli, Steve McCurry, Michael Freeman, and Greg Gorman; (photographers whose work I’d admired during my early travels), were sent out in all directions around the kingdom. I was sent to the ancient city of Sukhothai and the hill tribe region north of Chiang Rai.
My own book Angkor: Into The Hidden Realm was also published in 2007. HRH Princess Norodom Rattana-Devi of Cambodia kindly wrote a foreword. Eight people came to the book launch at the FCC in Phnom Penh (two of them toddlers), and King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia chose four of my Angkor photos as gifts for his state visit to the Czech Republic.
In 1999, I made a short two-minute black-and-white film on an Arri 35mm up in the hill tribes of NW Vietnam with donated end-roll film stock from advertising mates in Singapore. Then every now and again, between 1999 and 2010, I filmed and edited short films for Discovery Channel (Asia), and History Channel (Asia). These regional stories included filming back in the hill tribes and a Sumo school in Japan — in the early days we had the luxury of shooting movie film with a 16mm French Éclair and a wind-up Bollex.
In 2013, I was commissioned by Doytibet Duchanee to photograph the Baan Dam Museum in Chiang Rai, North Thailand. Created and built by his father (Internationally renown Thai artist Thawan Duchanee) this particular project was very well suited to infrared black-and-white film...
Then back to the hill tribes around Sapa in 2016, to photograph a fusion of hill tribe and French haute couture fashion... in COLOUR!!!
For the past ten years, I've been photographing colonial-period architecture in Asia. Starting in Thailand, I took photos of 'Old Siam', then went on to photograph French-colonial architecture in Vietnam.
This has become an ongoing project and I continue to find more (old) buildings to add to this portfolio.
At the moment I'm photographing the last remaining French-colonial buildings left standing in Cambodia. Sadly there are not many left. I will be uploading some of these photos to my website soon...
For the last year-and-a-half I've been shooting with digital cameras. My last remaining stock of infrared film I'm keeping for personal projects with my trusty Nikon F2 and Mamiya 645, though if an alluring assignment came up, I reckon my arm could be twisted...
Since 2012 I have been teaching photography as a 'visiting professor' at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
In my spare time I confront a 32-year mountain of disorganised negatives. I’m also editing years of scribbled notes and Word documents about photography and times travelling, which are going into a fully updated Red eye book. More about that later.