Wednesday, July 29, 2009

All Smiles

Photo: A little girl in Accra, Ghana 2008.

Dear readers,
I apologize for the lack of posts as of late. Since I've been back in the office, I've been playing catch-up on many things--and at the same time, I'm planning for my next assignment. In the meantime, I hope this message finds you well.

Keep smilin' because the world is beautiful...and so are you!

Take care,

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Home Sweet Home

It's just before 4am and I'm still awake. The ambiance from my laptop brightens up my entire room, casting shadows of me on my empty walls--reminding me of how the moon glistened over the South Pacific on a clear, breezy night.

From afar, I remember seeing the waves rolling in, faintly losing its force as it merely reached the shores. And like a child waiting for his turn on the swing, I smiled to myself, saw the ebb and flow of rolling tides, much like the kinetics of a child swinging through the air.

So tonight, I'm smiling to myself, yet again. And like the moving tides that slowly crept ashore, I've returned home. I'm healthy and I'm well. My assignment, despite challenging times on both physical, mental, and technical fronts, can now be proclaimed as a successful mission. I've found that image I had set out to capture, and now, I'm back to let my body, mind, and soul catch up with life itself.

I said hello to my car today. Ate my mom's 5 course home cooked meal. Took a shower with water I can safely swallow. And as I'm typing this, I'm trying to fall asleep on a bed that I can proudly call 'mine.'

And after reading back on my posts and going through all the comments that you have left, I thank you for your support, your well wishes and your encouragement. It meant the world to me while I was out there. From Facebook messages to emails and blog comments, you were my lifeline with unrelenting support. Thank you.

I will be resting for the rest of the week and through the weekend. Come Monday, it's back to the corporate grind--planning yet again, my next mission.

Count down to next assignment: 3 weeks.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Too Damn Tired

Photo: Filming a sunrise on remote island in Hawaii.

When I started this blog, my goal was to take you behind my lens, to show what it's like to live the life of a photographer, to see and feel, touch and taste--virtually, my experiences. And by doing so, I've opened to you my heart, my emotions at its darkest hours, and my soul. Yet, as I'm sitting here typing, my mind is in an utterly-sublime state--trying desperately to find words, to find rhyme and reason for a blog entry that I have no energy to type--but I just feel the need to connect with none other than you--my dear readers.

Because, I know that you will understand.

Mentally, physically, and spiritually, I'm exhausted. My travels have taken me to the end of the world and back, straddling a fine line between equators and time zones, nations and continents that I had once only dreamt of. I can't explain to you in words the feeling of accomplishment, the sheer fact that I can say 'I've been there.' But as my fingers dictate my mental thoughts into printed prose, I cannot lie to you. I cannot sit here and tell you that my travels have been easy--because it hasn't.

Hotels without toilets. Vomiting on the open seas. Camping on lava fields. Sleepless nights with a knife in my hand. Taking showers twice a week. Finding salvation by looking at myself in the mirror.

Right now, I'm too exhausted to care where I am, what I'm seeing or who I'm with. I'm just too damn tired.

This, my friends, is the raw truth of what it's like to do what I do.

Status Update: Currently filming on remotes islands off Hawaii. Home in three days.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lonely Traveler

Photo: Filming on the lava fields of Samoa.
Current Location: On Assignment in Melbourne, Australia

On this journey, I've seen stars fly graciously through the night, felt the warm-tropic breeze flicker the hair on my arms, saw sunset and sunrise, and watched in rapture as the moon glistened brightly above the ocean floor. I listened to the waves as it crashed ashore, saw the rolling tides go back and fourth--and like the rhythmic beat of my heart, it played its tune in perfect harmony.

I've seen night for day and day for night. I've witnessed my world flipped inside out, felt the winds of change, heard the cry of an infant soul, and even touched the hands of an angel--only to realize that it wasn't yours.

Closing my eyes to savour the moment, I'd lose myself in the vast abysses of space and time, journey through hell and back, and silently fall to my knees. But when I open my eyes, I'd see the world in all its beauty, find myself in here and now, present and future all before me.

So with every step and every breath, every minute of every day, I dream of you. And like the stars that linger in the sky, like the raindrops that fall from heaven above, he is watching--you and I.

Which is why on this journey, and every journey, I can see the world unlike any other. I see mountains move, rivers flow and streams collide. I see love and lust, life and laughter. I see beauty where I least expect, find happiness when all is frail. But no matter where I am or what I see, how I feel or who I meet--without you, life is empty--like the wind that howls in the void, the darkness that fill my midnight hours.

"I've seen fire and I've seen rain. I've seen sunny days I thought would never end. I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought I'd see you again." -James Taylor

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Prime Minister and I

Photo: Ron Sim and the Honourable Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa.

You know, there comes a time in everyone’s life when things “just happen,” stars align and the sun and the moon match perfectly in an orchestrated harmony of events that no one can really explain how or why it happens. It “just happens.” There’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it!

So when the Prime Minister (Bud, as he prefers me to call him) and I met today, I felt my world melt into a pan of succulent sauces—mixing and churning, blending and whipping like a machine you’d only buy on the Shopping Channel. It was the same feeling I felt when I first watched the O.J Simpson trial ten years ago—when everything just fell into place--you know, how the glove fits perfectly and all? Or maybe it was just a sign of nervousness from my lactose intolerant stomach. Whatever it was, all I cared about was the fact that I was meeting the big PM—the Priiiime Minister of Samoa!

It all came as a surprise, really. When I woke up this morning, I had no idea I was going to meet such a high ranking official. Heck, to be honest with you, I was dressed for the jungle. I even had my buck-knife on me!

But nonetheless, he welcomed me with open arms. We firmly shook hands. His was bigger than mine, obviously. And mine was a bit sweaty too. But we looked at each other, locked eyes and instantly confirmed our masculinity by abruptly letting go of each others hands and nodding at each other like what “real” men do.

He offered me a seat, so I sat. He crossed his legs, so I crossed mine. And when he smiled, I proudly showed him my pearly whites in return.

We talked of politics, the environment, corporate social responsibility with some of the worlds largest companies, our favorite foods, my camera, and of course, MJ. Thriller was his favorite, he said.

There were times when I didn’t know what to say, so I just nodded my head and smiled. He nodded his in return. But, as we progressed thru our meeting, I felt like we had bonded like brothers--sorta like from another mother, ya know. He was cool! And in his eyes, I think he thought the same about yours truly!

When it was time to say our goodbyes, I promised him I’d email, keep in touch and never forget about our meeting. I also gave him the link to my blog.

When he stood up to show me out, I felt like going for a hug, but being the professional that I am, I was waiting for him to initiate the gesture—you know, by him leaning forward 10% meant he wanted a hug—which at that point I’d go for the 90% remaining. But, as mathematical formulas do tend to go astray, I opted for a handshake—said goodbye and walked out. I peaked over my shoulder for one last glance, but being the busy man that he is, he was no longer to be seen.

The sound of a door slamming shut echoed through the hallway as I cheerfully walked out.

Authors Note:
If you buy me a beer one day, I’ll tell you how it really went down between me and the PM.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Just A Matter of Photogenicology

(Currently on foreign assignment in Samoa.)

Sorry, but I'm going to vent a little on this blog of mine. But don't worry, it's nothing offensive--just a case of being at the right place at the wrong time.

It all started this morning when I woke up in my triple-bed hotel room. Walking into the bathroom with no lights on, I literally stepped into the bowl that so graciously represents my toilet. Turning the shower on, my body prepared itself for a rude-awakening--a rush of freezing cold water gushing at my body and all its vital parts. Standing there, I tried to think of happy thoughts, you know, like: eating mom's home cooked meals, taking a dump on a toilet seat, sleeping on a bed that smells like Tide fabric softener, drinking water without having to worry if its purified, or having the luxury of eating at a restaurant with friends--instead of sitting there all alone trying to pretend I'm busy by checking my text messages, returning email, or taking notes when, in actuality, I really have no internet or phone connection. Yeah, I'm a loser, aint' I?

But anyways, that's not why I'm venting, nor is it the subject of my rant. It's really just a microcosm of my male-menstrual cycle snowballing into something much grandeur--much more significant than day dreaming in a cold, frigid shower.

Ultimately, it's a matter of photogenicology--you know, the genetic ability to photographically frame a shot, capture images that bring viewers to the edge of begging for more, the art of making them wish they were there with you--behind the lens, holding your bags or wiping your brow. It's something that I thought I had all along, until today.

Proving myself to be nothing more than a camera-whore with a sex drive of six frames per second, I stood there on that mountain, looking down at one of the most beautiful water falls I've ever seen in my entire-adult life. With my Canon 5D in hand, I mounted a 24-70 lens. Resting her on my brand new-state of the art 6x carbon fiber tripod, I was ready to capture one of the most amazing pictures I'll ever take--from now, til the day I shit on a regular toilet again.

Pressing down on the shutter to get a meter reading, I instantly knew I was doomed. Doomed!

You see, the water fall was situated in a deep under brush--with tree's hovering over it, much like how I hover over my toilet bowl. Directly above it, was the sun, pounding brightly on the tree's covering the water fall. In order to show the magnitude of this waterfall, I had to capture both the waterfall and the trees covering it. But with the sun changing, constantly casting shadows, and sometimes even over blowing both the water and trees, the sun was driving my camera crazy--my camera was driving me insane! I felt like I was going into men-o-pause.

The result: a photo with the waterfall perfectly exposed, but the tree's washed out in white. Or the other way around.

So, there you have it--this is why I'm venting. I was at the right place but at the wrong time (of day). I would've stayed there all night if I could, but my guide suggested we head back before night fall.

I promise you: I'll be back! (Said like Arnold did in T2). Baahhahahahha!!!!! And no, I'm not drunk right now! I blame everything on the bowl...the toilet bowl!