I'd love to learn to read Sanskrit someday
I’d love to learn to read Sanskrit someday

I vividly remember details anytime I see images I took in Tibet.  I also find that the images I like the best are the ones that evoke such strong memories of when I took a photo, like the exact moment. It’s a bit eerie.

I think the main reason why I have favorite images is because of the honesty involved in it.  Anytime I am honest in my life (either doing something with an honest intention or actually saying something honest) life changing things happen.

I remember sitting in my old apartment in Shenzhen as I was taking a photo of the city. I remember thinking that I was ready for a serious relationship and get married. I met my future boyfriend, then husband the next day.

The more I think about it, the more Tibet evokes such memories for me is because I was brutally honest as well. I had a very candid conversation with my then boyfriend. I remember crying. I also remember that I had to truly be open in order to move on.  A few weeks after that, I got engaged.

I find it funny how events happen to me. I also like linking my photographs with happy, sad, or vivid memories.  It used to be about the perfect photo, but the more I continue with my hobby, the more I find that it helps preserve what I’m afraid I might forget.

I’m going to be honest again, and I vow to be honest from now on. I haven’t updated in the past because I got lazy. I was also going through the motions from lots of life changes and wasn’t convinced that walking around a park with my camera was going to help me capture beautiful images. I was also sad about the lack of film photography resources around where I am now. Yes I know, these are excuses.

I can still post because I have a lot of images from China and other travels I haven’t posted yet. I’m also going to post the not-so-perfect ones so I can learn why those photos didn’t turn out in the first place. As the weather warms up more I will go on walks and capture the beauty in what I  thought were boring places.  I’m also changing the direction of the blog a little to include some posts about yoga and my journey in it.  I hope to take photos of myself in yoga poses.

I’m happy and relieved to be writing this. I am looking forward to all that comes from now on.

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I’m going to admit that my photography jaunts have taken a backseat. I was at a 40 hr job but literally commuted for 3-4 hrs a day for it. By the time the weekends roll around I have so many errands to run even the thought of planning a whole/half day to drive around taking photos tires me out. It was so nice today just to drive with hubs and go to the mall and window shop.

I don’t know if people realize that moving across the world is HARD WORK. I’m not complaining, but it’s a reality I knew was coming when we packed up 4 months to move here.  I would love to lie and say it’s all fine and dandy now, but it’s getting better.  I feel a lot more empathetic towards my parents when they decided to make the tough choice 24 years ago to move from Hong Kong to Canada. My mom got a job within two months and we moved into our very first family home in one.  They honestly made it look so easy.

There are A LOT of factors to consider when moving to  a new country:

-Losing money due to exchange rates between countries/banking fees, etc.

-Moving expenses (how to move your stuff, via plane,train, ship, etc.)

-Selling possessions in former country (We sold our appliances because it was not worth shipping over, it was cheaper to buy new ones here) or giving them away, which you end up losing money

-Buying new things in new country (furniture, appliances, etc.)

-Waiting out paperwork, which means you could be unemployed for a little while

-Budgeting for unforeseen circumstances (unemployment, housing market rising, etc.)

-Not knowing best prices for items and you end up overpaying for them

-Driving and getting lost, which wastes time and gas money


It might be harder if you have children involved. And of course, you can minimize risks by securing employment before you go to the country, but if you move for other reasons or don’t have someone sponsoring you, that can be difficult.

On another note, I am excited for fall here because I haven’t experienced North American fall weather (or Hallowe’en for that matter!) for about 6 years now. I know I’ve been nagging my husband to buy a pumpkin so I can carve. I’ve also seen really cool decorations around the neighborhood here so I might grab my digital camera and take a few snaps.

Resolutions revisited

So it’s been about four months since I’ve made some resolutions, and I finally have time to sit down and actually think about them! I like these mini-school holidays because it’s too short of a time to travel anywhere but its a good opportunity to just sit and relax.

I made 2012 a year to improve more upon my photography, and made some goals early this year.

Here they are and my progress (I think anyway!) so far:

1)Shoot only in b&w after all my colour film is done – good so far! I’ve got about 5 rolls left and have a project coming up this week, which should hopefully mean I’ll shoot another roll or two. Next week is another project with a wonderful lady I know so I’m well on my way! I do only have one roll of b&w 120 film here but I’m only going to buy rolls on a need basis, particularly now that I’m going to be leaving Shenzhen in a couple of months.

2) Read more photography blogs/books – partial success! With my vpn acting up and most blogs (why why why?) are on wordpress or blogspot, it’s a pain being able to either read a website with the text but not words or not being able to access blogs altogether.  Shall read more now vpn is ok for now.

3) Shoot with my film camera at least twice a month – good so far! I’ve used it twice last month but February wasn’t so successful.  Am trying to finish portrait series, and head out to Baishizhou, plus nag hubby into walking around with me behind our usual breakfast place on the weekend after breakfast of course 😉

4) Ask people to take portraits of them – success! Asked four adults and a bunch of students so far. May finish off some 135 film during break times at school and asking for student volunteers.

5) Explore the world of toy cameras again –  fail (so far) – had about half a roll left but of course camera dropped and film fell out! argh! Will insert roll when weather gets sunnier.

6) Do at least one/two more photography shows – changed images at The Kithen Futian, and will probably rotate some more come June.  Thinking either street photos or something food related….hmmmm….

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A New Beginning

I’ve thought about this for a very long time. I’m ready.

I’m ready for goodbyes, new beginnings and more adventures. I’m not necessarily talking about grandeur so to speak, maybe adventures on a smaller scale. You won’t find me climbing Mount Everest anytime soon (don’t have the ambition nor the funds for it to be honest).  What I mean is opening my eyes with a childlike innocence and seeing the same things again for the first time. Or reveling at the joy of learning a new skill, or being able to laugh so hard I actually cry. These things.

I’m ready for goodbyes because it means new beginnings.  In a few short months I will be packing my belongings and moving onto a new place. I don’t know what will await me there, what I am going to do, or where I will end up. But the possibility is there. And thinking about the word ‘opportunity’ is getting me excited.  I consider myself lucky to have so many options to choose from in my life, and this is another situation where I a wealth of options in front of me.

And –  of course – more chances to photograph new experiences!

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Photography Resolutions -2012

I’ve been thinking that I really want to improve my photography in general, but a wishy washy goal as that isn’t going to be successful unless I make it more specific.  Here’s a list (so far) of what I want to improve upon/do in terms of photography:

1)Shoot only in b&w after all my colour film is done

I finally found a decent place to get colour film developed, and it’s not far away, BUT I use the fact that it’s not walking distance to a) not develop film b) not shoot film because I’ll need to go two times to get film developed. Now that I finally figured out why my chemicals didn’t last long (long story short, faucet in kitchen sink was leaking badly, and only discovered it months later now that area underneath sink is grossly mouldy and smelly, hence creating a wonderful environment for photo chemicals to deteriorate!), I can ease my way back into developing my own film. No more excuses about trips to get film developed and laziness getting in the way! It’s also a personal challenge to see if I can make interesting scenes even though there are bright pops of colour here and there (though in my experience, Shenzhen is slightly lacking in colour unlike other Asian countries). Most of my favourite photographs in the last two years or so have been black and white, so I’m keeping with that.

2) Read more photography blogs/books

We must draw inspiration from somewhere! I also like looking at what others are doing and their perspectives on the same places I’ve photographed. Met some great local photographers this way. Would love to meet more face to face if possible.

3) Shoot with my film camera at least twice a month

I’ve been so caught up with life in general that my photography last year really took a back seat (I used to go out at least twice a week to go shooting). I want to do it more because it’s one of my favourite outlets when I’m stressed/uber busy.  Plus, photography allows me to learn more about this place and meet locals.  Maybe I’ll try to organize meetups or rope my friends into at least walking around with me and exploring, even if they are not photographers themselves.

4) Ask people to take portraits of them

I have friends who aren’t afraid to get into people’s faces to take a photograph, or shoot while they are looking, whether or not they have permission.  I’ve tried and many times miss shots because I get either too embarrassed or nervous.  I want to try different ways to photographing people, and the only way I can take images of (at least adults) faces/more profile shots is by asking people.  Hopefully my Chinese skills are good enough, and I don’t get a million questions about where I am from etc etc. This can extend to friends and family as well, though hubby hates me taking photos of him now (did he humour me back when we were dating?)

5) Explore the world of toy cameras again 

Weather here has been sunny lately, so I can bust out my holga/lomo and take more shots.  I still love toy cameras because of the surprise you get once you develop and (in my case) scan a roll. Since this goal sadly failed in 2011, I want to make sure I do this goal for 2012.  I have half a roll in about two cameras, not even sure what I took images of from those rolls anymore!

6) Do at least one/two more photography shows

I’ve been bad at changing my photos at The Kitchen Futian as I told the manager I would (I hate not keeping my word!). Will try to do that sometime this month and once more before the end of June arrives. Will also discuss with friend to see if collaborative show is still on.

Sickness as a motivating factor

Well, here I am sitting on my couch, two blankets wrapped me and suffering from terrible food poisoning. While I should be resting, I’m taking this as an opportunity to finally catch up on a few things I’ve been meaning to start.

I’ve tried posting blogs and intended on doing it regularly, but I’ve found many excuses to not continue. See, my relationship with Shenzhen isn’t the greatest, and I still have a love/hate relationship with it. I’ve been caught in the trap most foreigners call the “there’s nothing to do in Shenzhen” syndrome. I’ve let my photography slide because of this and, well, I got lazy. When I first arrived, I was very excited to explore around where I lived and brought my camera everywhere. Eventually, I ended up going to Hong Kong all the time as time passed because I met some great photographers there who shared my hobby.  Sadly, I’ve given up on finding any artists in Shenzhen simply because a) most people I found were businessmen who paraded cameras and didn’t appreciate my philosophies on photography b) they only spoke Chinese. Long story short, I barely brought my camera out, complained about Shenzhen constantly to my husband, and became frustrated because I was getting (for lack of a better term) ‘suckier’ with my photo taking skills. I became less bold than I used to, and if I couldn’t take a photo of a stranger in two seconds I’d shy away and get angry that the opportunity got lost.

One day, I forced myself to go out and explore where I did my food shopping, people watching and ate my meals. I loved it. I was bold. I stood waiting for photos. I was stared at and didn’t care. Through my camera, I was able to stop and really look around. Sounds silly, but my feelings for this place changed. I saw a slower paced Shenzhen, and people I normally saw as annoying were nice. I developed and scanned my film and I really liked what I saw.

The next week, walking around Nanshan district with a friend, I saw a friendlier side of Shenzhen. As we speak, I’m trying to scan my film. I am confident that I’ve gotten some good images from this.

I am hoping that this new lease on my photography continues. If I’m not keen on exploring a place, I’m not keen on seeing it through my camera. For a long time I wasn’t because I didn’t think anything worth seeing.

To get to my point: I’m hoping to continue doing this. I’m going to post images of any place I explore and hopefully it will encourage me to keep doing this even if there is nobody around to talk about it with. For me, taking photographs is a reflection of my relationships with places and people. My camera gives me a kind of courage I cannot explain. I hope to keep this up.

My film is not done scanning, so until next time…

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