Art: Sheena, Me, Minh-Thu
In my part of the world at least, I think I was one of the few "young" people to always carry a camera around with me. This was in the days before digital. Not that I was a prolific film shooter or even an aspiring photographer back then, I just liked having a camera with me for random moments worth capturing.
The early artwork featured here, it all started with my first digital camera, a consumer Kodak with an "astounding" resolution of 1 Megapixel. I carried it everywhere with me and would ask random strangers to take their picture. It was a good way of meeting people, breaking the ice of sorts since I would also have a satchel of prints showing my resulting art. Some would say no, and with it the inevitable awkwardness would set in, but you couldn't get discouraged, you would just move on, and ask for forgiveness for creeping out someone. This wasn't street photography by any means, which is normally associated with more covert practices and an eye towards moments, juxtapositions and compositions.
It was simply, "Can I take your picture?"
I wouldn't say this was trendsetting by any means, but at the time we were all in the early stages of this so called social age, the age of collecting people and the questionable level of connectivity and understanding that we were all supposed to be reveling in.
You can capture a person with a click of the computer or camera, but in the time it takes to draw a "pretty girl" it gives you time to think about all sorts of things--like life and how we fit into everything. The instant photograph was just the starting point. No one really had any time to sit for portraits anymore, we were all too obsessed with the latest popularity technology and our short memories and patience, and this theme was a play on that.
Drawings of strangers, Drawings of friends, Drawings from photos, turned back into disposable photos for a disposable culture.
Some became friends, some became muses, but most are just drawings. Nothing more in this revolving door of social interaction. Templates to work on line weight, color, contrast and value. It was never intended to be fine art by any means, but it sure was fun to do and share, which I think is still the main goal of both art and photography.
What started out as snapshots and pencil scratches to help me break out my shyness, produced some of the simplest and best moments of my life.
I also enjoy doing figure drawings from life. It isn't so much about the physique or person on the stand, but more about light and shade. One can create a credible drawing in about 5 minutes, which is less than the total time we modern folk spend checking our phones and communication devices. Unlike photography, in art class, no one ever asks you how much your pencil or charcoal costs, it's more about the talent, vision and the discipline you bring.
I was fortunate to go back to Laos, the country of my birth, to document a trip for Legacies of War, a non profit that focuses on informing the world about unexploded ordnance. In our travels, I discovered that Laos is one of the most beautiful countries, and the people affected by poverty and bombie accidents still had such a kind spirit with hardly any malice. These photos show the beauty of the landscape and its people.