Thursday, April 30, 2009

Done Playing 007

Lately (well, just today), I've been feeling like a dead beat. You know, like one of those fathers that refuse to pay child support--a loser with a capital "L" plastered on my forehead. Why you ask? It stems from a number of reasons. Here's just a few:

1- I've neglected this blog. (No Internet Access)
2- I've been on a top secret mission that isn't really secretive, but for the sake of national 'secrutiny', I cannot tell a soul.
3- I see more of my camera than my family.
4- I bought a pair of "tights" to keep warm while shooting in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
5- I now have a wedgeeee.

OOOk, now that that's out of the way--I just want to say that I've missed you. Yes, you--the one gawking at the screen reading my alphabetical soup of rambling. After spending the last two weeks on the road filming various projects, I'm now back in my office. But, not for long. I will be here for two days, then I'm off to the Dominican Republic to film a story about Humanitarian missions in that region. And since this isn't a top secret mission--I promise to write while on assignment. I'll fill you in soon.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to catch up on some of my favorite blogs!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Butt Hut

Dear Readers,
I've been on assignment lately in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan working on a top secret project that I cannot comment on. But, rest assured, that life for this lowly photog remains to be weird--wild--and whacky, as illustrated above. And NO, my top secret mission isn't on the Butt Hut.

Traveling thru America's back country is like traveling in a whole new world. Things are different here--way different! It's not your typical American-urban sprawl that you see on television. Instead, the atmosphere here is very Hillbilly'ish!

I'll post some photo's soon.
Have a great weekend everyone!


Monday, April 20, 2009


What is nothing?

According to the Mr. Webster, "Nothing is a concept that describes the absence of anything at all." Grammatically, the word "nothing" is an indefinite pronoun--which means that it refers to something. One might argue that "nothing" is a concept, and since concepts are things, the concept of "nothing" itself is a thing.

Confused? Yeah, so am I.

Anyways, I really don't have anything to write about today--nothing at all. Yet, here I am, marrying words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs--an amalgamation of text with "nothing" of note into something we call a "blog post." Hmmm, too bad it's about "nothing."

I'm currently in Indianapolis, Indiana filming a top secret project that I'm supposed to say "nothing" about. So my lips/keyboard is sealed!

Have a great week everyone!


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Insights From The Ronigoddess

Sorry, I may have tricked you with the title, but there won't be any insights here today. Neither is there such thing as a Ronigoddess. I made that up (creativity has its powers). Instead, I've been honored with the privilege to be Guest Blogger at Insights From The Demigoddess.

Please direct your browser to this link <--------- that link-- to read about my journey to North Korea and how I single handedly managed to rescue three fellow photogs while running through a gauntlet of land mines and eating only the lint on our socks to survive. Yes. It's true. I'm in talks with Oprah Winfrey and Jerry Springer on a collaboration for my next project.

So what are you waiting for? Click on the link above and read for yourself! The Demigoddess will welcome you with open arms. She's awesomely amazing!

Have a great weekend everyone!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Oh Sh!t" Moments Vol. 2

For those that are new to Ronzworld, you may have missed the first edition of Oh Sh!t Moments--a chronicle of instances when I thought that very frame was going to be my last. Well, I've since washed the stains off my undies and have even burnt a few, so without further adieu, here's volume 2 of Oh Sh!t moments:

Hanging your body from the side of a rick-shaw was never taught in film school. With the wind blowing thru my hair, I felt like a dog with his head poking out the window of my master's car. This moment deserves an "Ohhh Sh!T."

Sitting backwards on a motorcycle, holding a camera in one hand and trying to grab onto the bike with another was also never taught in film school. In fact, I think this was dumber than the time when I drove backwards thru a McDonald's drive thru. This moment made me say "Oh Sh!T, I'm going to die!"

Setting up shop in the middle of rush hour traffic wasn't such a good idea. I was honked at many times. Heck, I think they even swore at me. But oh well, it was a great shot. Never the less, I said "Ohhh Sh!T, I'm going to get hit in the groin."

I know I'm a high roller and all, but never to the tune of 3 million dollars. There was so much cash that I didn't know where to stash it. I felt like a drug dealer. So you know what I did? Well, being the smart-ass that I am, I stuffed it all in my pants! But while walking thru the market, it felt very uncomfortable. It bulged out of my pants and made me look like I had a hemorrhoid the size of Venus. Knowing that I could get jumped any second, this was indeed an "Oh Sh!t moment."

Talk about cheap flights! Man, flying around in that bucket made me appreciate how lucky I am to fly coach. In fact, I was freaked out at how close we were to the engine blades. It was loud! I thought I was going to lose an ear drum...or worse, I'd get sucked into the engine. I prayed aloud and remembered accidentally saying "Oh Sh!t in my prayers." Sorry God.

With my legs dug into the ice, I clung onto my life to get this shot at the 2010 Winter Olympic Nordic Sky Jump venue in Vancouver. If I had slipped, I would've performed a double fly-by axis quadruple speed jump and made it look easy! I said "Oh Sh!t" so loud that I think I might've caused an avalanche that day.

OK, this may not look like an Oh Sh!t moment to you, but to me, it is. Now look at it carefully. My tripod is completely submerged in the water. My camera is no more than a few inches from the splash. Had I made a mistake, my camera would've dropped to the bottom, washed away with the flowing currents and I'd be left with nothing but wet feet and a pink slip! I thought of how I would explain this to Boss Lady when I get back to the office. And the only words that I could hear her say was "Ohhh Sh!t." But dammit, it was a sweet lookin' shot!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Little Peanut

This is Peanut. Yes, that is his real name. He is the son of a Cambodian genocide survivor. And like me, he was at the memorial service last weekend. Holding an incense in his hand, he's off to say his prayer. Bless his little soul.

I had a rough day today, but looking at this picture of little Peanut makes me smile. I hope you will to :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Between Heaven and Earth: Remembrance

This week marks the 35th anniversary of the genocide in Cambodia. Ironically, it also falls on Cambodian New Years and Easter Sunday. I attended a prayer service this past weekend to remember the family members who were killed. For Cambodians around the world, there's not a family left untouched by death, starvation, disease and slavery. As I've learned through the years, it is the story of our people--of darkness and beauty.

Elders chant to the souls of their beloved.

A little girl deep in prayer.

Two palms brought together in prayer.

A list of deceased family members being burned to commemorate their loss.

The hand of an elderly accepting flowers as a gesture of forgiveness.

Incense burn as two ladies leave hand in hand in the distance.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ronzworld In The News!

So I made the news this morning--in a good way. No, I wasn't arrested, didn't skip bail and wont' be appearing on America's Most Wanted. In fact, I made the news simply by telling my good friend Jason about He had this to say:

Damn, now I'm out twenty five bucks!
Happy Easter, Happy Cambodian New Year and have a great Sunday everyone!
Be well.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Answering Ms.BonDon and Desert Rat

These two sisters must be twins. If not, they're probably some sort of spies working for the Feds. I knew I should have never stolen all those napkins from they're out to get me.

Lastnight BonDon sent me a few questions--only to have them asked again by Desert Rat. They asked:

What type of music do you listen too?
Like food, I listen to everything and anything--from Cambodian pop (yes it exists) to R&B to Country to Polka. Well, Polka only when I'm drunk. I really have no preference in music. I even like songs from different countries--even if I don't know what the heck they're singing about, it doesn't matter. Music is music.

What is your routine when you are at home?
I really don't have a routine. I avoid being home as much as I can. It scares me to have a routine. Everyday, I drive a different route to work and a different route home. Usually I'll stop at a few places along the way--the convenience stores, the local Wal-Mart, the library, anything--just as long as I don't have to come home. So by the time I get home to my empty apartment it's time to make supper, eat, read the news and go to bed.

Do you go out?
On weekdays it's rare that I ever go out--unless a coworker invites me out to dinner or to a local bar for a few glasses of wine. I usually work pretty late. On weekends, I'll hang out with friends, see a movie, go to a jazz or blues bar, or take the family out to dinner. In the summer I play volleyball, spend a weekend in the woods or drive off with no destination and meet new people in small towns where I'd probably get lynched if I stuck around too long.

No tv right?
Nope. It's over-rated.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Welcome to Ronzworld! WTF!

Current Location: Midland, Michigan, USA / 43°37′25.0″N 84°13′45.7″W

OK, so right now you're probably wondering where's the F? Like, what happened to the F? Or better yet, what the F?

Now, before we all get F'd up, let's calm down, breathe, and read carefully:

There eventually comes a time in a man's life when having a job means more to him than getting the 411 on a girl he met at a bar the previous night. You know, the kind of job that pays the bills, put fuel in my car and food in my belly. That kinda job.

The popularity of this blog has grown more than I had ever imagined. People started reading, writing back to me and before I knew it, I had Blogger Friends--even followers like Random Hiccups and BonDon and HillBilly and Demigoddess and D2 and ChicGeek and Young Traveler and Reduce FootPrints. Names you'd only see in personal ads--kinda scary if you ask me. But what surprised me even more is the effect this blog has had on my work life. Yes, work life! People at work began reading my blog! I'd go to meetings and people would ask me "Hey, where the F have you been?" I'd pretend not to know what they're talking about and say "huh?" They'd wink at me and whisper "we've been to your blog." Shit! Next thing I knew my boss was reading, too! Damn! It felt like I'd been caught with my pants down. And that's when I started to panic. That's when I had to re-think the F in my name. You know, in Where the F is Ron? The F part...? Yeah...

But don't get me wrong, taking the F out of where the F is Ron was not a decision based solely on my corporate morals--or lack of it--nope, it's much, much deeper than that.

You see, after a while the feeling of being rebellious fades off and slowly turns to weirdness. It felt great when I first came up with Where the F is Ron. In fact, it felt so good that I plastered it on my moms fridge! Too bad she doesn't know how to read or know what F stands for. But anyways, after a while, I felt weird telling people my blog address. For example: you're sitting there at dinner with some really nice people whom you've just met a few hours ago. They're executives, higher up people--and next thing you know they're making small talk with you. "Ron, where have you been, what have you done? blah blah blah." And then all of a sudden a light bulb goes off in your head and you thought of the perfect chance to mention your blog--you open your mouth to speak and as soon as it gets to the point where you mention the URL, you say "www.wherethe.....". All of a sudden you stop. And after a brief moment of silence so you can say your prayers, you continue,"where the F is Ron dot com, Sir." Man, you should see the look on their face!

You know how weird that feels? In a way it's cool, but in other ways, it's embarrassing!

So here's my solution: for all my discerning readers, those wishing for a more liberal approach to my blog, simply type And for those who live life on the edge, drink out of the carton and cross on yellow lights, you my friends can still type in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How F'in cool is that?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to wash my keyboard with soap.

A is for Answers II

My shutter bug brother Dan at D2 Photography had the following technical question to ask:

Would you recommend a G10 for your photographer buddy? I'm thinkin' it would be nice to ditch the heavy load from time to time. And it seems like a perfectly competent camera.
I love the G10! It's light, compact, and the pictures come out absolutely amazing! But, don't get me wrong, there are disadvantages about using a smaller camera. The lens isn't the greatest. No matter what anyone tells you, the G1o is still only a point and shoot--just maybe on steroids. The built in 2.8 is great, but without sticks, you're going to have a hard time opening up that wide in ambient places, especially with the body being so small, so using the flash is sometimes forced upon. Shooting outdoors, there were times I wish I could screw on an extra ND filter so I could open up a bit wider to get more depth, but that's not an option. It's also slow. And I mean SLOW! There's a 1 to 2 second delay between each shot after you press the shutter. It will take a bit of getting used to, but the potential to get great shots is definitely at your finger tips. It's a great camera. You're more than welcome to borrow mine for a week and test it out! Just let me know, buddy!

My good friend James from CTV in Saskatoon, Canada sent me an email earlier and had this to ask:

Dude, what's the nastiest thing you've ever eaten while travelling?
Raw seal blubber in Iqaluit, North West Territory's Canada.

Julie from Fox News in Washington DC emailed with this question:

Ron, how come you have so many female readers on your blog?
I dunno, maybe cuz I'm a stud muffin that cries while watching Titanic?

Keep the questoins comin'!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A is for Answers

I received an email last night from the lovely Random Hiccups at Slave to the Ordinary with the following questions.

What is your comfort food? You know the one food that you crave until you reach home?
This one is a hard one to answer because food is something that is near and dear to my heart--and my gut. Everywhere I go, I make sure I eat everything and anything that's available to me--especially local ethnic cuisine. It's one of the best perks of travelling. But, you're right, there comes a time during the trip that'll make you wish you had that special something that can't be found anywhere. In order to answer this question--being the food nut that I am, I have to segment into categories:

Snack: ketchup flavored chips, cool ranch Dorito's, or pork rinds.
Breakfast: Sausage Egg McMuffin!!! Ohh yeahhh, I'm Lovin' it!
Lunch: A thick and juicy 1 pound American style hamburger.
Dinner: My mom's home cooked meals. Stir fries, soups, barbecues, and the best noodles you'll find between America and Shanghai.

When you saw a moose did you call out to it trying to make him your pet?
Are you kidding me? I was scared shitless and ran for my life! After my buddies and I got to a safe distance we all began to moon it. Hey, we were drunk campers. But honestly, how many people can ever say they mooned a moose?

What's the strangest talent you have?
I'm both left and right handed. I can take a dump on command. When I am shooting I can hold my breath for minutes upon end. I see dead people.

Have you ever eaten a crayon?
Who hasn't? It's too bad they don't start making them flavored by colors: Yellow=Banana, Orange=oranges, Purple=grapes, Green=lime, etc.

Where were you this time last week?
I swear, officer. I didn't do it!

How would your alter ego describe you?
Who, Ron? He's a women living in a mans body, a cross between Michael Jackson and Jacky Chan, an Evil Knievel wanna be, a rude and obnoxious bastard that can't stop writing. Other than that, he's cooh.

You can have dinner with any three people in the past or present who would it be and what would you eat?
Bill Cosby- Jello
Anthony Bourdain- Singaporean Shark Head (my favorite)
Homer Simpson- Beer. Just beer.

We all have moments that define us. Explain the most life defining moment of your life.
A few months ago I wrote about an experience I had while I was in Afghanistan. I told the story of what I had seen while embedded with the Canadian military. That moment defined me as a person. It made me realize that I was human--that I was more than just a man with a lens. When I went to Afghanistan during that time, I went for the adrenaline rush--nothing else. But after that moment, I became a different person. I used my camera to change perceptions, give a voice to those less fortunate, and start the process for change. Now, my personal goal thru my work is to learn and grow, to challenge myself, stretch my limits and foster an appreciation of both the world at large and the office chair waiting for me back home.

You are an incredible writer, why photography and not writing?
I've never considered myself to be much of a writer. I am the worse when it comes to grammar and spelling, punctuations and run on sentences. But thank you.

Some of my friends often tell me to slow down and smell the roses--you know the saying. But little do they realize that I DO smell the roses--just in a different way. It's hard when you cherish "time" so much. Time to me is of the essence. I love capturing it, making moments stand out so others can cherish the same feelings I felt thru my experiences. Photography and cinematography allows me to do that. Writing ads a deeper meaning--it helps to guide the story. I think writing and photography go hand in hand--it's a perfect marriage.

Describe your greatest love.
My greatest love is of my family. It sounds very cliche, I know. But when you come from a history as painful and dark as mine, it's easy to understand why.

I'm fortunate because I've had the chance to see many parts of the world, and because of that, I've come to believe that my ultimate love is that of people. I just love people. I love human nature for all its good and bad, beautiful and ugly, pain and reward. Every one of us has the ability to enrich each others lives and together--become stewards of the bounty around us.

My friend DUTA from Places of Character had this to ask:

What kind of camera do you use while on assignments?
For Corporate video productions I use a Sony EX1 XD-CAM camera. For network television, I shoot with the Panasonic line of P2 High Definition cameras. The equipment I use varies depending on budget and location.

For Still Photography, I use a Canon 5D and 40D with a variety of lenses (70-200, 28-105, etc). For my point and shoot photo's, I use a Canon G10.

I'll be dedicating the next few days to questoins. If you have an inquiring mind, please feel free to leave me a note or shoot me an email at

Monday, April 6, 2009

Q&A's and FAQ's on WTF

Ever thought of what it's like to shoot in the rain forest...without food...and water...and leeches, lizards, and snakes all around you?

Have you ever read this blog and wondered: Is Ron that stupid? How'd he do that?

Ever wake up in the middle of the night and thought, "hey, where the F is Ron?" Well, maybe not, but have you ever wondered what kind of camera Ron uses or what that fuzzy thing is on his lens?

Whatever your questions might be, I'm dedicating the next few posts on answering them. So if you have an inquiring mind, please feel free to leave a question via the comments section, or shoot me an email and I promise to tell you the truth and nothing but the truth!

My E Mail:

Camera Nerd

Photo: Japanese Tourists
Current Location: Midland, Michigan, USA / 43°37′25.0″N 84°13′45.7″W

Sometimes, I have to remind myself why I'm doing what I do, what has brought me to where I am today, and the person that I am becoming. It's easy to be lost in thought, in time, and in life.

You see, growing up in front of a TV screen wasn't easy. My parents both worked long hours--I'd wake up in the morning and they'd be gone. I'd prep myself for school, locked the doors when I left--and at night, I'd go to bed and they wouldn't even be home yet. The television was my friend. It spoke to me, told me stories, took me to places I never even heard of, sold me on things I never could afford--in retrospect, seeing the world thru a tube was simply magical. It inspired me, sparked my imagination and forever left a lasting mark on my childhood. Maybe that's why when the councilor in highschool asked me what I wanted to do in life, I simply replied, "I want to work in TeeVee!" Next thing knew I was enrolled in the media program. They slapped me with a camera and proclaimed me "The Camera Guy."

So there I was--a ninth grade camera nerd. I looked like a Japanese tourist.

I admit, I wasn't the most popular guy with the ladies, nor was I the most charming--but let me tell ya, I was one lean-mean-picture taking-MACHINE! Day in and day out, I devoted my life to the helm of a camera. I worshipped the studio and proclaimed my camera my soul-mate. I named her Minoltalina. Girls thought I was gay. My parents began to worry. They contemplated about sending me to Japan. But by senior year, things started to change for the better. I became one of the most saught after guys in my class. Girls would say "Heyyy Ron, can you take our picture?" And I'd say, "Ohhh yeahhhh!" My camera was a "magnet for chicks!" My dad was so happy that he even gave me the keys to his 1984 Oldsmobile when I landed my first date.

In college, on top of my undergraduate curriculum, I'd con my way into graduate level classes--simply by telling them the truth: I'm poor, I'm hungry for knowledge (and food), and I just want to learn. Professors believed in me, guided me and trained me to become the cinematographer they hoped for me to be. I was trained by some of the best pioneers in the industry--like Richard Lietterman who shot Stephen King's IT and CSI. Like me, he was a ninth grade camera nerd too.

Over the weekend I had a lot of time to think about my options, about Dave's assignment in Afghanistan and about the reasons why I turned it down. To be honest, I was sad--upset at why I had to let down a good friend. But after hours of retrospect, I realized that I had forgotten about that ninth grade camera nerd. I forgot about how hard I've worked to get to where I am today--to enjoy the fruits of my labor without having to sacrifice life.

When I first went to Afghanistan with Dave, I was a mere rookie looking for a break. I went because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, that I could survive. It wasn't because I believed in making a difference or changing lives, nope. It was for something trivial and stupid. I went for the adventure. It would've been for the same reason this time, had I accepted.

Well, I'm all grown up now. I no longer look like a Japanese tourist, nor do I drive my dad's '84 Olds. But deep down, I know I'm still that ninth grade camera nerd.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Phone Call

Current Location: Midland, Michigan, USA / 43°37′25.0″N 84°13′45.7″W
Continued from the post below:

Breathing in deeply, my lungs filled its void with oxygen. I closed my eyes and saw nothing but darkness. The abyss was before me. Reaching for the phone, my palms felt like I had bathed it in oil--soaked in sweat as the receiver narrowly slipped from my hand.

Dialing was hard. It felt like I'd just learned how to count all over again. In retrospect, it was much like the first time I called my crush in high school. My heart was beating faster than a fugitive on the loose. I felt like I was dying.

Putting the phone to my ear, I could hear my heart beating through the speaker--as if it had resonated from the chambers of my chest. It took forever to ring. I hate calling overseas.

A voice finally answered.

"Dave, I'm sorry, man. But I won't be able to shoot for you in Kabul next month."

We had a long conversation. He's a great friend and mentor and understood exactly why I couldn't accept his assignment.

But as for me, I don't know if "I" understand why...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

On The Brink Of War

Photo Courtesy of CBC: Staff Photo, 2002-03/First Foreign Assignment
Current Location: Midland, Michigan, USA / 43°37′25.0″N 84°13′45.7″W

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about Afghanistan, the war, the people, the tragedy. I have flash backs. Nightmares. Sweat and chills coherently flow through my body--a mixture of fear and anxiety correlating at the vortex of my dreams. Reading the news each day, Afghanistan ironically piques my interest, stirs up convulsions in my mind and makes me wish I was there again. It's strange.

I got a call the other night from a good friend in England--David Bruer, an independent producer currently freelancing with Al-Jazeera. He called me out of the blue at 3am--my time. Dazed in my sleep, I originally thought it was my brother and began to panic (he never calls at 3am). Dark, cold, and confused, I crawled out of bed, sat up on the edge and tried to get my mind in focus.

" there?" he says. "This is Dave!"

Shit. Dave never calls to say hi. Within seconds, I already knew the purpose of his call. My heart began beating faster than I could breath--the air felt so thin--and just like the flash of a synapse, my past experiences in Afghanistan flickered in my head in slow motion replays.

"I've got an assignment for you..." he says.

I didn't really care what he had to say after that. I wasn't listening. In my head, I saw my mother, father, brother, friends and family. In my heart, I saw adventure. I wanted to break away from the mundane world I live in and again witness first-hand the brutality of life at war--the triumphs and tragedies of man and his might. Out there, the pain is palpable, you can breath it in the air. For some reason, I miss that.

"I'll have to get back to you, Dave. I've got a lot goin' on right now..." I said.

We said our good-byes. I waited to hear the click on his end before hanging up. I sat there the rest of the night--pondering my options, wishing for an answer that could ease my mind. It never came. And slowly, the sun rose before me, birds sang to the tune of an orchestrated melody, the wind whispered through my window.

Tonight, I will call him back.