Last February I suddenly stopped publishing and the only explanation I could give you at the time was that I had important family obligations which were taking a great deal of my time.  And while this was true it was much more than that.  It’s like everything caught up to me at once, the move and the associated costs, giving up my home in Bangkok and adjusting to life in the Midwest, leaving good friends and family members behind while adjusting to my family here and hoping I’d make friends as good here..  And more.

 

Chapman Wedding Hua Hin July 2012

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8 @F8  1/125th  51mm  ISO 100

 

More you say, isn’t that enough?  Unfortunately not.  As a creative professional I was experiencing severe creative block.  I couldn’t write without my mind wandering elsewhere, I could barely return an email, a short 4-5 line reply required all the concentration I could muster.  My camera and other gear were collecting dust and everyone began to notice.  I was seriously wondering if it wasn’t time for me to consider something else.

After much thought I decided to not push myself, to just let things work themselves out over time.   First on the list was dealing with family issues and I’m pleased to say they’re 100% fixed/completed.   I found once this was done I wanted to make contact with family I hadn’t seen in a long period and it wasn’t until I did this did I realize how much neglecting family had contributed to what I now call my “funk.”   We should never forget how important family is and that moving overseas isn’t an excuse for neglect, but a reminder we’ll need to do more to keep those relationships alive.

All the while “home” was starting to feel more like home.  Improvements to our home both inside and out helped it feel like “my” home.  My sons helped when they weren’t in school or working and were a big help.  I started to take care of my health a bit better and the rewards were huge so I’ll keep doing this.   As I began to know my new town more, the more I enjoyed what was on offer.

 

Field Worker in Chaing Ra, March 2008

Canon EOS 1ds-Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8 IS  @F9 1/500th  200mm  ISO 100

 

This is a university town with a unusually large percentage of overseas students mostly from Asia. This helps create an international feel to what would otherwise be an typical Midwest farm town. Everywhere you go whether it be the small 4 gate airport, the local Walmart, the dozens of cafes and bistros in the downtown area, are all frequented by international students ranging from 20-50+ years old. Being a westerner in Asia couldn’t be more different than observing Asians in the west. Putting the shoe on the other foot also gives you the chance to be who you’d want your hosts to be when you find yourself in Asia.

Living in Bangkok I was constantly bombarded with stimuli unlike most places in the world and simply unavailable in my new home.  As a photographer this stimuli put me on a “creative high” I’m sure most tourists could relate to.  But as a year round expat you tend to build up a tolerance to this stimuli not unlike a heavy drug user builds towards their drug of choice.  You get to the point where a 8 foot tall bright orange robed red-headed monk in flames doing cartwheels on an elephants back during rush hour barely catches your interest.

Creatively this is a great place to be because it allows you to see beyond the façade and glitter and into the very real lives of a different people and their culture.  Only when the culture is laid bare and void of such distractions can you truly start to learn.

And learn I did, for over a decade in Thailand I did my best to pick up every bit of information a photographer journalist could use.  And more.  Perhaps not the same set if information an anthropologist or after hours editor might have collected, but certainly together we share a large subset of Thailand’s unique culture.  The unique knowledge we gain defines us.

During an email exchange with a friend we were discussing the realities of my home country vs.Thailand or really anywhere in Asia.  I voiced that for my last three moves to Asia I never felt an adjustment period.  None.  It felt like I was coming home.  Yet, each time, when relocating back to the states, I experienced significant stress and many types of adjustments were needed.  Something to think about.

As the first and only piece in my August 2013 column I wanted to share where I’ve been and why so many emails have went unanswered, and to lay out my plan to bring myself and this column back to full strength.  When you see this column chock full of articles written by myself and especially guest contributors, then you’ll know I’m truly happy and back on the right track.

This column cannot survive without guest contributors of all types. We need everything you have to offer.  We’re always looking for questions you may have on photography and any photography examples (from any skill level) you wish to share.  If you have a series of photographs of an even or location please turn it into a feature piece.

 

Fall Colors, Allerton Park Champaign IL October 2011

 

 

Even as I was asleep at the wheel for the last six months or so, a record number of visitors were visiting our mother-ship site www.bangkokimages.com, which is a great way to gain exposure for those with an interest.  Take the time to turn in a nice feature and you can expect thousands of readers among our InFocus weekly column here on Stick’s site, and even more at our home site www.bangkokimages.com  And yes, even as nice as the site currently is, I have plans for several improvements to take place in the coming months.

My therapy includes not only bringing this column back to life, but looking forward to visiting Bangkok from the last week in December 2013 through the second week of February 2014.  If you’re interested in taking one of the more fun and interesting photography workshops where you really do learn about photography and how to get better images from whatever camera you bring.  And of course I’ll make my personal gear available to anyone looking to try different or more advanced gear.

In the coming months look for this column to grow back to its former size, and with your help we’ll include more Thailand centric photos and relevant information, but also look forward to several locale series as I struggle to kick start my creativity back to full strength.

I’ll also share several new members of my family, a series on re-adapting to the US, and a separate series as I explore the pros and cons of maintaining two homes, one in my home country and the other in Bangkok.  I have tons of plans and your enthusiasm and participation fuels my desire to create more.  I’m looking forward to the future.