One thing I needed to continuously clarify to my friends back at home was that even though I was taking this sabbatical to Asia, I was going to be working while I was here. For some reason everyone kept thinking I was taking some sort of vacation. And while it is true that the vibe here is way more chill than back at home and I’m having a great time, there’s a whole other set of circumstances to deal with that can cause stress, and slow your project just like back at home. Fortunately I haven’t hit many roadblocks at all in production. My biggest roadblocks were getting myself sorted and getting my concept nailed down as well as the technical aspects that surrounded it.
I left home with a very loose concept called “Untouched by the hands of time.” If anyone follows my posts regularly you may recall me mentioning that it was broad enough to encompass anything which gave a lot of liberty but also alot of space to get creative ADHD. When I came to Monfai and Ne’Na I immediately met with Dev and Khun Shukit to discuss the project. Khun Shukit offered encouragement and recommended getting the staff at Monfai to help me in any way I needed. Dev and I had a few back and forth conversations on the topic, each one pushing a little bit further until I came to a fork in the road which presented two distinct avenues.
My thought process back at home was to shoot photo-journalistically. This is a style very foreign to me. I don’t have a whole lot of experience working this way and while it seemed like a great idea, and still could work for a project I realized that it simply didn’t do justice to the resources I had available at Monfai and Ne’Na. Dev really helped me dial in my thought process, mentoring me and explaining to me how to refine my idea. While I’m continuing with the same theme of being untouched by time, it has been narrowed down to a very specific subject within a very specific culture. This was a lot of work to arrive at and once I nailed this down, I had to begin to think of how to express it.
I can’t go into too many details about the project but I can say that it’s centered around dance in the Lanna culture. This allows me to take advantage of the resources available to me at Monfai and Ne’Na and still stay true to my original idea. After spending a few days working through the technical aspects of how to produce images that would tell this story I was ready to begin production. My presentation meeting with Arjan Rampad and Khun Shukit went extremely well and I was given their blessing to proceed with the project. After a few informal meetings with some of the staff at Monfai we set a meeting date for last Sunday to begin photographing. This part felt a lot like what I do at home in my commercial career.
To be quite honest the whole photoshoot felt A LOT like what I do at home. Skilled professionals show up, do what they do best, I run around alot, sweat, make discerning faces at the back of my camera and say “Ok, one more…” when I really mean 10 more. Soon enough everyone was laughing and having a good time. They made me dress up in some of the costumes, try some of the dances, basically make myself look like a big oaf for amusement. Indeed fun times.