Saturday, December 29, 2012


If I had a dollar for every time I've heard someone confuse Denmark (Danish) with the Netherlands (Dutch)... Man-Oh-MAN... 

To help combat this I've drawn a handy educational map which can be used to refresh your memory if need be.

Speaking of Denmark, here are a few snaps from a recent walk on the tiny island of Thurø.

Sometimes it's nice to take a break from "people photos"...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ballerup Track Racing for

Here are a few frames from a recent assignment for Danish cycling online magazine

For the rest of the gallery, click HERE

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Come Back Big Multimedia Final Edit

Here is the final cut of my multimedia project from the Foundry Photojournalism 2012 Workshop earlier this summer:

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Myanmar Part II

My experience with Sittwe, located in Myanmar's northwest Rakhine State, began long before I stepped off the plane and onto the primitive oceanside airstrip that welcomes visitors to the former fishing village.

Upon returning to Yangon from my trip north through Bagan, Kalaw and Inle Lake, I set out in the morning's humidity to see if I could buy a plane ticket for the following day. My first stop was just downstairs-- the lobby of a small guesthouse I'd stumbled on with a few other travelers my first night in Burma.

"No foreigners allowed," mumbled the manager after a quick phone call to a local travel agent. His firm  dismissal came as a bit of a surprise; the evening prior, I'd received nothing but smiles and nodding heads from the front desk upon mentioning that I was interested in booking a ticket to Sittwe. My bags were packed, equipment charged-- I was practically fishing for my wallet when I received the disappointing news. 

But, as I'd come to learn quickly in the weeks prior, every "no" is at the very least as good as a "maybe" in Burma.

So, with that thought in mind, I walked out to the street and flagged down a taxi. Or, at least that's what the sign on the roof said-- many taxis in Myanmar have a greater resemblance to forms of transportation you may find in an episode of The Flintstones than any vision of a typical Western car-for-hire. The day before, I'd stepped into one of these vehicles only to arrive at my destination sufficiently soaked. A mid-drive downpour had come in through the taxi's four nonexistent side windows and drenched the interior. The driver didn't seem to mind though as he sped through the afternoon traffic hawking blobs of red betel nut spit every few minutes, some of which would find its way back into the car via the open window I was sitting near behind him.

My destination after the encounter I'd had at my guesthouse was the domestic airport where I hoped to speak directly with an airline. And, as it turns out, Sittwe was suddenly (and quite mysteriously) no longer closed to foreigners. I flew out the next day.

What I found in the ensuing week was a quiet town. But, as my days there came to pass, it became increasingly apparent that the peaceful atmosphere had come with a severe cost. The Muslim Rohingya's had, for the most part, been run out of town. Essentially, there was just no one left to fight with.

In June, a group of Rohingya men allegedly raped a Rakhine woman which set off a week of conflict between the two groups. The Rohingyas, whose ancestral roots can be traced to nearby Bangladesh, have lived in Myanmar for generations. Today, most live in camps near the border, wanted by neither Bangladesh nor Myanmar as Burmese President Thein Sein made clear when he stated that he would gladly send the ethnic minority group to any country that would accept them. 

On my third day in Sittwe I visited a local monastery where I met a young man who could speak basic English. I told him that I'd seen the burned out remnants of a Rohingya neighborhood but still had yet to come across any Rakhine houses that had been set aflame. Together we walked out to the road where he had arranged for a bicycle taxi to pick me up and after a few minutes I was on my way, at an excruciatingly slow-- amusingly slow-- pace. We continued at this speed past small shacks, over the numerous potholes that dot the back roads of Sittwe, and then, to my surprise, right through a gap in the barbed wire fencing of a military checkpoint.

Once inside, I was taken by a group of local Rakhine men down a side street where the road opened up to the charred remains of what was once a thriving neighborhood. Far across the field, a group of children played amongst the wreckage. 

"Rohingya," said one man, the distaste in his voice bordering on fanatical with its intensity. Moments later, after I'd taken a few steps closer to the kids, the men called me back, as if worried by some matter of proximity I may become infected with evil just by the presence of the rival group. 

The following day I was invited for tea by a group of men sitting in a circle of plastic chairs on a sidewalk near the ocean. The men have been meeting for years in the same spot every evening after work to talk about politics and Buddhism, the philosophy of the Rakhine people. On that particular day "Niban", the Burmese word for what is more commonly known as enlightenment, was the topic of discussion.

After some time, the conversation turned to the ongoing conflict. I asked the men how, as devout Buddhists, they could possibly condone the violence that had taken place in Sittwe. 

"We have tolerated the Rohingya people for years," said one man. "But we've had enough of them disrespecting our culture and disrespecting our women." 

It was clear then that the path to "Niban" did not include living in harmony with the Rohingya people.

Sittwe, Myanmar. 
In a Rakhine neighborhood, only the front steps remain of one home that was burned down in June.

A boy flies a kite among the charred remains of what used to be a Rohingya neighborhood in Sittwe, Myanmar.

The flag of Myanmar hangs in a burned down Rakhine neighborhood.

On Sittwe's main street, Rakhine men get their hair cut at a barber shop.

On Sittwe's coast, a young monk collecting offerings is reflected in the mirror of a motorcycle.

A member of the Burmese military stands watch as evening traffic passes by. A curfew of 7 p.m. was in place which left the streets nearly empty at night.

A woman passes by a parked police truck in Sittwe, Myanmar.

Barbed wire fencing blocks the road to an area of Sittwe where some Rohingya remain. 

A man flies a kite in the late afternoon on Sittwe's coastline.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Myanmar Part I

The past month has been a whirlwind of flights, trains, bus rides, broken computers and perhaps most discombobulating; a sudden and unexpected change in continents.

I left Thailand for Myanmar (Burma) on Aug. 25 after spending a week preparing for what would be a 17 day venture into the rapidly changing country. Things were looking up; my visa application went through with no hitches, my Thai Baht had been successfully converted into perfectly crisp U.S. Dollars-- only brand new unblemished bills are excepted in exchange for the local currency, Kyat, in Burma-- and despite monsoon season, the weather report wasn't even looking too bad.

Then, because of a lengthy list of details that I'll spare you from having to read involving my partial citizenship, I realized that I needed to move to Denmark. Like, soon. Like, I probably-shouldn't-be-galavanting-around-Asia-right-now soon. Like, immediately-after-I-get-back-from-Burma-is-the-only-way-this-will-possibly-work soon.

So I did.

And now, after getting settled into an apartment in Copenhagen-- courtesy of a good friend-- I am now finding the time to sit down and really take a close at my take from Burma.

My trip was essentially divided into two parts: Number one being the sightseeing and touristy beginning of my time in the country and two being the last five days, in which, I traveled to the town of Sittwe in the northwest Rakhine State where conflict between Buddhists and Muslims (frequently referred to as the "Rohingya" people) has been simmering since June when, in one single week, thousands on both sides were displaced from their homes after a violent string of murders and arsons took place.

But, before I post images and experiences from Sittwe, I think it would be better to start with something more broad-- something that shows something more subtle going on in Burma. At the core of it, the country is undergoing rapid changes. Just last week, oppositional party leader and National League for Democracy (NLD) chairperson, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, met with President Obama on his own soil-- a political appearance that would have been unthinkable a few years ago when Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was being held under house arrest in Yangon. Then, earlier this year, she was elected to parliament in yet another move that seems to hint at a more democratic future for Myanmar.

The future I heard locals speaking of varied from place to place. On a night bus somewhere outside of Inle Lake, a business man spoke of the plethora of possibilities as he flipped through files on his iPad-- his legs crossed underneath the traditional checkered longyi he wore together with a pair of weathered sandals.

In Kalaw, a small mountain town in Shan State known as a popular starting point for treks, I drank tea with a Punjabi guesthouse owner on a cloudy afternoon. His prognosis for the country he grew up in was much more grim.

"We cannot get passports, it would take years," he said, speaking for himself and other non-ethnic minority groups that inhabit the country. "But for someone with a connection to the government-- who knew the right people-- it would take just a few days."

Such division is apparent in Burma where the what-is-new clashes with the what-used-to-be-old each and every day.

Wearing a traditional Burmese "longyi", a man walks through the grounds of Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. The pagoda is believed to have been built some 2,500 years ago.

A young couple check their smartphones as a monk reads a newspaper at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar.

A goat herder tends to his animals near the Nann Myint viewing tower in Bagan, Myanmar. The 60 meter tower officially opened to the public in 2005 to provide a higher vantage point to see the over 2,000 ancient stupas and pagodas that dot the horizon of the surrounding area. Despite ample qualifications, Bagan has not been awarded a UNESCO World Heritage Site which some believe is due to the modern restorations some temples have undergone as well as the construction of new buildings such as the Nann Myint Tower. 

A woman walks past a Daw Aung San Suu Kyi t-shirt for sale at the Bogyoke Market in Yangon, Myanmar.

Crowds gather near the the Yangon central bus station in the late evening.

A young boy sits in his home outside of Kalaw, Myanmar. "It his our dream to live in a home like this," said his parents of the picture displayed on the wall behind him.

A boy holds a BB Gun to the head of a young Buddhist Monk at a festival in Bagan, Myanmar.

Wearing the white cream derived from tree bark as traditional make up, a girl sits along side a dirt road outside of Kalaw, Myanmar. 

A young couple share a roadside kiss after the night bus they were riding on broke down in the early morning on its way to Bagan, Myanmar.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mae Khue Cockfighting

Blood, feathers and cash...

Cockfighting in rural Thailand.

Over the past few weeks, I've spent a little time documenting this form of gambling as it was quite accessible by motorbike from Chiang Mai. I first visited the venue with photographers Fabian Weiss and Anna Spelman on Aug. 5. Then, on Aug. 13, I returned with photographer Spike Johnson to try and narrow the focus of the images a bit as well as capture more audio.

The format is very similar to that of traditional boxing-- trainers handle and care for their fighters with fervor and during the bouts betters scream out in both joy and anguish. In between rounds, the trainers work quickly to sew up the chickens while feeding them various synthetic steroids and energy boosters.  Fights do not go to the death, but rather, until one chicken either loses interest or becomes too weak to go on.

Below is an ambient audio mix I put together from the cockfighting venue. Turn up the volume...

Hundreds of spectators gather at a cockfighting venue near Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Betters scream out as a fight takes a dramatic turn.

Two chickens stare each other down during a fight.

Spectators count their cash during a fight in the main ring. Though very rare, bets in the main ring can run as high as 1 million Baht (~$31,700).

A spectator lights a cigarette during an intermission.

A man makes a bet in the small ring during a bout.
Trainers stitch and sew the wounds in their chicken in between rounds of a fight in the main ring.

Using a common technique, a trainer sews the bleeding eyelid of his chicken before taking it back to fight again in the main ring.

A cock waits in a cage outside of the venue.

A trainer waits to weigh-in before a fight.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Single: Muang On Cave

Yesterday, after my original plan fell through (more on this project in coming weeks), I was left with two options:

1. Turn around and make the 45 minute drive back to Chiang Mai where I would almost positively end up sitting in a cafe staring at the wall while spending money on caffeinated drinks, or...

2. Continue driving until I found something else to do.

Being that it was early afternoon, it seemed criminal to go with anything but "#2". So, with that settled, I set off and started cruising. Another 45 minutes later, I saw a sign for an "art cafe" on the side of the road. It was a simple sign, but it succeeded in feeding my "I'm-from-Seattle-so-I'm-supposed-to-like-the-word-art" ego. Needless to say, I pulled over. The place was called La Bhu Salah, and was run by a  kind Thai man who authors a variety of traditional cookbooks. After a tour of his property, he pointed me down the road to the Muang On Cave as I'd asked him if there were any good hikes nearby.

Another sign that read "CAVES----->" clued me in to the turnoff.

A short stair climb leads to the entrance for the cave where utter silence awaits-- refreshing after months staying in cities. 

I was getting ready to leave when I saw what would have been a nice image if only there were people to occupy the lower portion of the picture. A few minutes later, a young Thai couple climbed down into the cave and walked right up to the mat I was situated near. We exchanged quick bows before they removed their shoes to pay respects to the reclining Buddha and I snapped off a few frames in the process. 

A young Thai couple pay their respects to a reclining Buddha figure in the Muang On Cave near Chiang Mai, Thailand on Aug. 11, 2012.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Come Back Big

Foundry Photojournalism week 2012 may be in the books, but Foundry Photojournalism recovery week 2012 is in full swing-- errr, full walk. A slow walk that is...

Case in point being that my schedule has been wide open yet I've still needed six days before finally feeling up to the task of creating a fresh blog post with new work.

During the (crazy) week, I worked alongside five fellow students in Danish photojournalist Henrik Kastenskov's multimedia class. My subject was a local Muay Thai fighter Mana "Big" Inkham, who, seven months earlier, was the victim of a hit and run accident while stopped at a light on his motorbike with his girlfriend. He suffered a severe concussion, spent a week in the hospital and has since continued to train and fight despite a stern disapproval from his doctor.

As someone who used to spend most of his time in pursuit of athletics, I could immediately relate to Big's lifestyle. He wakes up early, trains for a few hours in the morning and then sleeps and relaxes during the daytime before continuing with his training into the evening. And while I never faced anything close to the magnitude of setback that Big is dealing with now, the feeling of dedicating 95% of your time to a sport, only to have it chew you up and spit you out with nothing more to show than a few bruises is something quite familiar. I think all endurance athletes know this feeling all too well...

I followed Big as he prepared for a fight in the neighboring Lamphun Province-- about a three and a half hour drive from Chiang Mai. After the fight, I spent a few days putting together a multimedia piece that tells Big's story. I have since decided to re-edit the piece so instead of posting it, I will share some still photos from the project. When I have finalized the multimedia piece, I will post it here.

Until then, here are ten photographs from my time spent with Big.

Big trains at the Lanna Muay Thai Gym in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Big shares the back of his trainer's truck with two dogs who live at the Lanna Muay Thai center.

After a hard early morning run, Big cools down before heading back to Chiang Mai.

A set of keys sit on the edge of a boxing ring at Lanna Muay Thai training center. 
Big has a laugh before heading to his fight in the Lamphun Province of Northern Thailand on July 30, 2012.

A crowd of a few hundred waits eagerly for Big's fight to begin in Li, Thailand on July 30, 2012.

Lanna Muay Thai founder Andy Thompson participates with Big in pre-fight traditions.

Big's trainer holds his head and offers encouragement between the second and third rounds of his fight.

After losing by way of judge's decision, Big holds his aching head and tries to sleep.

Big rides in his trainer's truck on July 30, 2012.