I went from two weeks of meditative wanderings to getting off the plane and charging right back into rushed city life/shooting daily for TIFF. And though that's fun, I look back at this photo from Solsbury Hill, England, a couple weeks ago, and all I can think about now is getting far away from people and jammed streetcars and laptop-infested cafes and back to the slower pace again.
My teenage self would be aghast that I'm saying this, but... I'm actually missing small-town life!
I'm in Manchester, finally, and doing as the locals do -- hitting a cozy pub.
Coming to this particular drinking hole, solo, is particularly significant: if the rumours are true, this is the pub Deborah Curtis (wife of Joy Division's Ian) visited on her own in the '70s, but was denied service as it was unbecoming of a woman to be drinking alone.
We've come so far. This is for you, Deborah! ✊️🍻
PS. This shot involved my Fujifilm x100s, the timer, and me running frantically to the other side of the camera -- luckily, I nailed it the first time!
Visiting Koh Tachai was, hands down, the most obnoxious travel experience I've ever had. My disdain for beach culture and tourists was not only at an all-time high, but the larger environmental impact had me fuming.
Set a little further from Phuket than the other day-trip islands, Koh Tachai is touted to have one of the more pristine beaches. Clear water, yes, but the numbers of entitled tourists and motorboats they allow in to stomp all over its beauty is heartbreaking. The sell of this remote island, horrible snorkelling, and playing on our need to escape is largely an attempt to convince largely Russians, Chinese, and Euros they'll reach that faux zen moment of their Instagram dreams.
In October, this particular island will be closing indefinitely, as tourism has wreaked enough havoc on this part of the world; authorities are finally realizing it's gone past its breaking point. And it pains me, in my long separated visits to Thailand, how I see the country deteriorating as a result of the industry that keeps them alive, not having stricter environmental regulations in place to maintain that, and the "douchebag tourism" that seems to plague a lot of these tropical destinations worldwide. Ugh.
I've not been the hugest fan of Hong Kong, probably due to my first trip being 24 at the time, getting scammed, and staying in creepy guest houses, but also, spending another visit with family... which was great for food, but you know, an obligation-filled trip.
This time, I explored Kowloon for a five-hour walk, and I LOVED IT. The place is like Manhattan on speed, with confident folks who let it be known that they're entertained or completely pissed off with you: Straight-up city. Also, the food offerings are superb -- I ventured down a block and ate at five different stalls (including three desserts) in one hour.
Hong Kong, you've got vibe, and I'm sorry I've been so harsh on you. I'll make sure my next stop is longer than 18 hours.
I am currently on my bed, passed out, ready to cry. These 13 unedited images are the result of 6 days of running around, talking to strangers and, of course, shooting -- selected to best convey the story of Muslim women in Phuket's Bangtao Village. Though it was a huge issue to cover in a week-long workshop, especially without a translator, I have learned much about the process and have the framework for something bigger, possibly even a lighter piece with a companion article.
This series, which I'll share in better quality later, represents a week of sweat and frustration, but also newfound knowledge, respect for the medium of photography, and a great connection with the wonderful, helpful people of Bangtao: I won't forget this experience.
HUGE, BIG-ASS thanks go to Alex Masi Photography and Grzegorz Ostrega + Aleksander Bochenek at Workshopx for the challenging and super-fulfilling week (even if I was silently cursing them through it all). Also, kudos to the Ontario Arts Council - Conseil des arts de l'Ontario Chalmers Family Foundation for getting me here.
Tomorrow: I'm leaving the camera at home and hitting the water, kiddos. THIS GAL IS GOING ON VA-CAY.
A photo profile on Sheba Legend, '80s club DJ and current founder of MasculineUs, a media project to document and support women who embrace their masculine position.Read More
Let's face it: I'm a single gal in Toronto with single gal friends. I see cats all the freaking time. So as the cat-cafe concept jumped shores from Japan to as far as Montreal and Melbourne, the idea of spending valuable time in Tokyo petting them seemed increasingly... banal.
Then I was told about a rabbit cafe on the border of Harajuku-Shibuya, which sounded pretty cute. I could totally do rabbits, even though I've seen many of them in my time, albeit at a distance, darting around small-town Ontario, often too hyper and too quick to be caught with the camera I've unfurled a second too late.
The awkwardly named Ra.a.g.f (Rabbit and Grow Fat) cafe works on the same principle as its feline counterpart -- pay a cover charge to sip a beverage, hang out with adorable animals. The particular cafe is not your standard storefront deal -- it's tucked up on the third floor of a narrow building, in a quiet alley, steps away from a major intersection in bustling Harajuku. Upon entering, you're immediately greeted by a line of rabbit cages, and I guarantee you'll probably shriek at the sight before greeted by one of the bunny caretakers, who, by the way, speaks only enough English to say, "Please remove your shoes and enter." The cafe is small -- a cozy, gated area, which looks almost like a nursery play space with a bright spring-like colour scheme, tiny kid tables, and at the time of my visit, a toddler, gleefully running after a bunny and squealing.
My friend Jacinta and I step into the tiny gated area and sit down, while a girl zips over to us and goes over the English version of the menu, stating the rates and available drinks, all of which are complimentary at an all-you-can chug service. She quickly goes over the rules: We are to select a rabbit to play with, and it must stay out for a minimum of 15 minutes. Only one is allowed out at a time, as they're prone to fighting. She asks us how long we'd like to stay, and being travellers on a budget, we both figure 30 minutes at ¥700 ($6USD) will suffice. The clock is set. We opt for juice, order a bowl of veggie ribbons to bribe the rabbits, and rush over to the cages to give a new bunny some human-love-play time.
The pressure is immediate to make The Right Choice. From a pool of 20 or so rabbits, and with time ticking, we had to figure things out fast. In a panic, we point to a tiny, seemingly timid rabbit in the top left cage, and clasp our mouths over our hands. Too adorable.
Well, not really. Turns out this little bunny is a feisty little hell-raiser, which is what I've known of rabbits to begin with, so it shouldn't be a surprise. It leaps out of the caretaker's hands and rips across the perimeter of the space like she's just taken a hit of cocaine. Dangling the carrot ribbons in the air does nothing.
After seeing us on our hands and knees beckoning Miss ADHD with radishes, the staff pieced together a brief, "She doesn't like to eat." No shit. So after a few minutes of running around and capturing only one still photo of the thing mowing down on its own feces, I just sit in one place and swing my head back and forth as if watching a hyper speed tennis match, suffering a slight bit of whiplash as a result. The thing won't stop bouncing around, made slightly worse by the trails of poop nuggets deposited at our feet (these ones, she does not consume). Nearing the 15-minute mark, we are visibly worn, like babysitters passed out on a couch after caring for a friend's kid who we secretly despise. We are ready for a switch.
We learn from our coked-up bunny experience. We ain't fools. So when the staff scoop her up and ask for our next choice, we glance at our full rabbit snack bowl and request a "slow, tired bunny that likes to eat... a lot." Almost immediately, she nods, bends down to a lower cage, and -- if she doesn't grunt, she should -- drags out a rabbit with a body close to the size of a mammoth and a face so chubby, its eyes are reduced to slits. We are in love. Our voluptuous new friend is exactly as requested -- a lazy, lumbering sloth who goes to lengths to devour our entire rabbit snack bowl, and he does. THIS IS WHAT WE CAME FOR. AND WE LOVE IT.
At this point, our 30 minutes are up, and despite my itchy eyes and swollen throat indicating a newly discovered bout of rabbit allergies, we both aren't ready to go, sign up for an additional half hour, and spend extended time with the glorious, unreal Godzilla-sized rabbit. As new customers file into the cafe, we play fair, give them private bonding time, happily waste our remaining minutes opening cages and petting our new rabbit buddies, and leave the cafe even more giddy than we entered it.
PS. As you can see from the photo above, rabbits are available for purchase and, yes, even rent, which seems pretty entertaining in my head, but who am I to judge? We all get a little lonely once in a while, and I'm sure if I lived in Tokyo, I'd surely find a reason to borrow one for a few hours, too.
RATES (drinks included)
30 minutes - ¥700
60 minutes - ¥1,100
Additional 30 minutes - ¥550
Rabbit snacks - ¥150
MON-FRI - 12:00-19:30 (19:00 last entry)
SAT-SUN + HOLIDAYS - 11:00-20:00 (19:30 last entry)
Jingumae 6-14-15, Maison Harajuku 3F
I have clearly become the obsessed monster I never thought I'd ever be: I can't stop thinking, talking, or raving about you. Siiiiiigh. Here's my ode to you and our three glorious, epic weeks together.
'Til we meet again,
When I was told Lake Tazawa was onsen/hot spring country, I didn't realize to what extent or how inexpensive. And at $5 for a day pass, it's not only popular with Japanese tourists but the locals as well.
I've been to so many that being naked in front of strangers is starting to feel relatively normal; for someone who hates undressing in front of others, this is huge. This particular shot was from today's excursion, one of the most relaxing of the ones I've seen thus far in Oyasu onsen village.
I could really get used to this lifestyle.
Though I was raised in a small town, I much prefer the fast-paced anonymity and autonomy I have in large cities. Being here in Yuzawa, Japan, is a serious change of pace, a tiny sliver of Tokyo, a sleepy town of 50,000. Because of this, I no longer have minor urban luxuries at my disposal and am at the mercy of my hosts in terms of pretty much everything… But after a really active visit in Tokyo, it’s kind of nice not worrying about train schedules, meal choices, navigation, and time management. Honestly, though my Instagram leads people to believe I’m still in a hub of activity, I’m not doing much of anything this week except swinishly eating my friends’ food, playing with their children, and following them on excursions to hot springs and noodle joints… I am just riding someone else’s river, and for once, that’s okay.
Look at me, giving up control. Maybe I still have that small-town kid in me, after all.
HELP: I will be in NYC late next week, and my main photo subject has flaked out on me! [BOO, HISS]
As most people know, I have a hard time travelling without a project in mind, so I'm on the hunt for a unique New Yorker who deserves attention. I'm most fascinated by religion (the more polarizing, the better), the elderly, lifetime hobbyists, quirky obsessions, and unique skill. Whatever the subject, he/she must be excessively passionate about something. It doesn't matter if we hold the same views, either -- in fact, could be more interesting if we don't. Previous subjects have run the gamut from a hardcore Christian who built a treehouse for God, a senior square-dancing group, a shoemaker, an Elvis impersonator, a gothic jewellery artist, a church bell ringer, a dog rescuer, to a shopping cross-dresser.
The person or group must be open to me hanging out with them for a few hours and having a good ol' fashioned chat. I am NOT looking for models who just want a pretty portrait shoot. (Yawn.) I just want to hang out with someone awesome. (Yay!)
Can anyone point me in the right direction?