Back To The Football Two

Following on from my previous post featuring the kids of Pattaya participating in a major football tournament, here is the prequel to that event.

The men’s competition took place the day before on the Saturday. Again there was an abundance of skill on show from both Thai and farang players.

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Firstly though, I must pay tribute to a lady known only as Colette, who literally could have saved me from a hospital visit. With not a cloud in the sky and temperatures hitting 32 degrees, I found myself feeling ill as the bright sunshine and heat took its toll on me.

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I was burning, especially my face and head. I felt nauseous and if the truth be told, I was ready for home after only two hours of photography.

Then this very kind lady introduced herself. When she realised I was struggling, she brought me chocolate milk, water, rice and eggs and a beer with the statement “one of these will cure you – I am not sure which one but one will do the trick.” She was right. After eating and drinking the mixture of consumables, I was feeling great. She then presented me with a hat to stop the sun doing further damage.

Thank you Colette.

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So back to the football. It still baffles me why the standard of football in Thailand is so poor at international level, when there is clearly an abundance of talent coming through. The skills from the kids on the Sunday was exceptional and many of the younger players in the adult competition were very capable, albeit on a seven-a-side basis.

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Take my first image for example. The chap in the red, left the two opposition players for dead, with skill and pace, before approaching the keeper and sliding the ball into the net from a tight angle, despite the best efforts of the keeper.

The next photo is of a young goalkeeper, who is small in stature but incredibly graceful and talented, and as you can see, very adept in front of the camera.

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I have taken photos of him and a few others at a beach football competition in Jomtien a few months back.

I selected the next one because the player is high in the air as he attempts to block a long pass from the player in white. He failed but the image was captured in a series of three and I like this one.

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Next up is another skillful lad, who easily passes two players, leaving one on the floor. He successfully crossed the ball into the danger area but a goal was not forthcoming on this occasion.

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In case you are wondering why so many teams are wearing white shirts with “MoneyGram” on them, this is because the sponsor provided strips for one of the teams in every match.

I must also add that every thirty minutes or so, I was treated to cold water, coke zero or beer by the organisers. I guess they had concerns that the old man may keel over in the heat 🙂

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Now there is often a moment of hilarity at these events and this one was no exception, unless you are the poor lad lying on his back holding his testicles. The chap took a sore one from an opponent and was on the ground in agony. He was not afraid to let people know exactly where the pain was emanating from either.

“Oh my bollocks” was just one of the choice phrases he let rip with. I also cleaned that comment up somewhat 🙂

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Of course acting with the utmost professionalism, I wandered over and took a few images of this crestfallen moment in his football career. I am happy to say, he was soon on his feet, resting against a wall.

Amazingly, no one offered to massage the area to speed up the healing process.

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The lad taking the ball on his chest is one I particularly like. Especially when followed up with the subsequent image, which is taken a split second after the first. This time he resembles a ballerina as the ball rose upwards after connecting with his chest. He did however, bring the orb under full control seconds later.

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How about a “sausage roll”, the diet of champions? Actually, the guy had been injured and was unable to continue, so like many others, he sampled some of the excellent food on offer at the event.

Not only was there Thai food, there was an excellent stall selling spaghetti, chicken and pork. Someone said there was a burger van but I failed to locate it.

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The one of the chap in the Italian strip (at least I think that is what it is) appeals to me, as it represents a standard football image, with a player running and controlling ball. His poise is ideal for the shot.

Back to the goalkeeper mentioned earlier. This time he has pulled off a stunning save from a shot taken from a player out of picture on the right. Top class goalkeeping.

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Yellow versus white as the player donning the yellow strip, attempts to pass beyond his adversary. I can’t recall if the tackle coming in was a success or not.

As the competition got into the final rounds, the guys became increasingly jubilant when they scored a goal. If I recall, the chap with his arms outstretched, scored a hat-trick during this match and is clearly delighted that his team are heading into the next round.

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The image of the guy in the yellow shirt, depicts finesse, fitness and strength from a player who was rarely dispossessed when he had the ball at his feet.

Concentration on players faces, often results in good photos. The one above, is part of a series of five, where the duo are fighting for possession of the ball.

And last but not least is one that shows why the photographer should, whenever possible, get down low when capturing sports. If you observe professionals at football matches, they are often seated behind the goal. This is usually part of the ruling bodies restrictions on photographers but it also provides the best angle to take the photos.

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Getting down to eye-level is great but sitting on the ground adds another dimension to your photography, typically at football events.

Finally, I would like to thank the organisers, sponsors and participants who permitted me access to the tournament. It has been a couple of years since I last took photos at football and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I only wish I had my other Nikon D610 in Thailand, so the images could have been a little bit sharper.

If anyone in Scotland is heading this way, maybe you could bring it to me:)

 

 

 

 

 

Back At The Football

Firstly, before I commence this post – let me explain why the logo has changed and the reasoning behind it. When I began SK Photography around seven or eight years ago, there was only one person working under than name in the UK and one other, I discovered later, in the USA. Now there are a number of people using the name and it was becoming difficult for people to locate me on Facebook.

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So after months of deliberation, I opted to re-brand and change the logo to suit. I considered a number of names but finally chose ThaiSken, simply because I now live in the Kingdom of Thailand and Sken was a name that was used to identify me at BT when there were two people called Steve and we both had the same initials. So he became Skin and I became Sken.

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So – back to my day out with the camera. Well it was actually two days out. Saturday was men’s football in a tournament style. Group stages in the morning and knock out stage in the afternoon, leading to the final around 17:30. The photos for that are not ready yet.

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The second day, which was on the Sunday, was under 10s, following the same format.

I used to work in the field of football photography back in Scotland, firstly in non-league football, then youths and finally women’s football. However, It has been a couple of years since I attempted to capture fast moving subjects, such as kids chasing a ball.

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The first thing I noticed was the standard of play and skill on display and not only from the boys, for there was an odd girl playing too, and they were in a similar class.

I worked with kids this age in Scotland and in my opinion, the standard here at this age group, is higher. What happens when they get to adulthood I do not know, for the Thai national team is pretty poor, judging by their results over the last couple of years. But if these kids can produce the quality on display on Sunday, then nation has a lot to look forward to in the world of football.

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The top image is of one of the girls, who played in the early stages of the tournament. She was taller than most of the boys in her team and this could be why she took most of the throw ins.

The next two I selected because I like the facial expressions of the kids. One chasing the ball, determined to catch the attacker and the other fighting hard to retain possession.

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The one with the youngster in the light blue shirt, shows him running with the ball as he scans the park, looking to make a pass.

The kids here are not greedy when the have possession of the ball. They happily look for players who are in superior positions. Someone in space or in a better location to shoot, will get the ball, generally speaking anyway.

As a former goalkeeper, I love the image of the boy bravely diving at the feet of the attacking player. He tucks his head in to avoid injury and safely collects the ball.

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Again, the lad taking the throw in, shows tremendous focus. His face is full of intense thought as he aims the throw in towards a team mate. And of course the hair style adds to the image.

Back with the goalkeepers. This was the third of six images, that captured the kid with the gloves making a tremendous save. He dives to his right, pushing the ball away from the goal and onto the post. One of the defenders then cleared the danger.

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Most of the goalkeepers were of a high standard too.

The chap above displays great poise and elegance as he steps up to take a free kick. Again the majority of the boys and girls, were very adept when striking the ball.

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Most passes found their team mates and those who shot at goal either rattled the frame of the goals, brought out a save from the keeper, were blocked by defenders or indeed, scored! As in all games, some were off target.

The victory celebrations are featured above. The team in blue had lead by a solitary goal in the final but lost a late goal, which took the game into a “golden goal” situation. Within two minutes, the lad being held aloft, drove at the opposing keeper from the right of the box, before firing in the winner.

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His elation had to be seen to be believed. I captured the goal in a series of around eight photos, including his run, shot, two of the ball passing the keeper and bulging the net and the celebrations. I elected to use this one, simply because the others were posted earlier on Facebook.

The last one is by far my favourite. It shows a young girl playing with friends on a spare pitch. She is barefoot and could strike a ball harder and more accurate than most of us can do wearing trainers.

But what makes this photo for me, is the joy on the children’s faces as they chase after the lass, with not a hope in hell of catching her.

A fantastic day, eight hours each day, sweltered in 32 degrees, burnt to a crisp, aching back and for the most part, wishing the day was over. But I would happily do it all again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese Food At A Top Bar

A few weeks ago it was announced that the Corner House Bar in Rompho, Pattaya had done a deal with a local Chinese takeaway company called Wok N Rok, with the outcome being, the bar would be hosting a special buffet featuring Wok N Rok food.

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Going forward, the Corner House will also be offering Chinese cuisine from Monday to Saturday, so not only do I have access to some of the best delicacies in town, I can now eat it at one of my favourite bars.

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I decided to pop along to the buffet night and took my Nikon D750 with me to grab a few photos.

The food is cooked in a typically British style of Chinese cuisine, similar to what you find in almost any town or city across the UK. The chef is Thai but she spend many years working in Chinese restaurants in Scotland, so this for me is like a piece of home.

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My favourite is Chicken Curry, I cannot order a Chinese without having a curry, and Wok N Rok offer a fantastic variety of curries including beef, pork, chicken and special curry.

I am also partial to some Sweet ‘n’ Sour or Spare Ribs in either Gravy or Barbecue Sauce or in some instances, I will even have them dry.

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Wok N Rok have an extensive menu so it could take me some time and many visits to see Stuart and Phetch at the Corner House before I have worked my way through what’s on offer.

The buffet was a huge success as people ventured in over a four hour period.

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I hope that the daily service will take off, for Chinese restaurants are few and far between in the city of Pattaya.

I only took a few photos on the night, mainly due to a variety of circumstances but the food as you can see is amazing.

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The Corner House rarely do things by half measures and this was no exception. Everyone appeared to enjoyed their “All You Can Eat” buffet and washed their meal down with a few drinks of their choice.

Sadly I got caught up in other things and did not get the opportunity to sample the self service fare on offer but I will be around soon to order my favourite curry.

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Nom on the other hand, delved in and sampled the delicious food from what was, a substantial buffet.

Can you do it again Stuart?

And we need another Rompho party night 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Party Times In Pattaya

It has been a while since I found time to update my blog but despite this, I have been active with the camera, although not as much as I would have liked.

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I still have an ongoing issue with my Nikon D750 but there is little I can do until I find a way to get my D610 delivered to me from Scotland.

Most of my attention has been taken up by parties, a subject that often involves great hilarity and meeting new and wonderful people here in Pattaya.

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Take my first image for instance. I was at a birthday party for a good friend “Phetch” when I spotted a gorgeous little girl enjoying a lolly. I introduced myself to her mother and asked permission to take a few photos.

The result is an image of an angelic little girl.

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My next offering is of the birthday girl herself and her boyfriend Stuart as he presents the birthday cake. This lovely couple own the Corner House in Rompho.

Next we have two images that for me, were the best of the night. Wan attended the party and sat beside myself and Nom. She had a couple of drinks and got up to dance. At the time however, she was on the stage and singing along with the band, providing me with a few classic images.

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Wan is one that you never take your eyes off, for you just do not know what she will do next.

The image of the lady singing (the one WITH the microphone) sings with a another chap that I have never managed to discover their name either as a duo or own identities. They are often seen entertaining around Rompho though.

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They are an excellent duo and produce some great cover versions of rock standards and ballads.

Staying at the Corner House Bar, I have included one of Nom, taken with Wan, before either of them had been dancing.

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I was going to say they were taken before any alcohol was consumed but that may be a lie.

Shortly after Phetch’s party, I was invited to another party for my good friend “Dong” er Martin.

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Martin and his delightful partner Oil, own New Country Road Bar (NCR) in Rompho, a short walk from the Corner House. I had assisted with some arrangements for this event, following the highly successful Jerry Lee Carlson gig at the NCR. Click here for photos and blog article.

Martin, like Stuart, has been very supportive of me during troubled times, and I owe this pair my very existence in Thailand. Yes you know who to blame now 🙂

Dong as he is affectionately known is pictured above.

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The entertainment for this came in the form of a Scottish lassie living in Pattaya by the name of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Stephanie. Steph does a lot of oldies like her name suggests, with a bit of hip shakin’, gyrating and knee grinding thrown in.

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One of the guests was a guy called John, another top man living here in Pattaya. John loves to dance, especially to the likes of Chuck Berry and despite being in his 70s, the man can boogie all night – almost non-stop.

Where he gets his energy from I have no idea but I wish I had half of it. Stamina beyond belief!

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It is incredibly rare for me to feature in my photos, mainly because I am almost always behind the lens.

But due to camera issues, another splendid chap known as Marcus attended, with a view of offering advice but as a result of his presence, I got some time to be on the receiving end of the camera. Marcus is a top photographer in his own right.

This one is of Nom and I, which would usually only be captured on a phone picture.

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Anyone hosting a party in Pattaya should really look into hiring the Jäger girls. These two lovelies work for free, promoting Jägermeister and other drinks such as Jim Beam.

The deal is simple, they will sell customers one measure from your own stock and they will provide a free drink from their collection. The guest gets two drinks for the price of one, the bar gets the sale they may never have had and everyone gets inebriated. Result!

It is difficult to say no to a Jägerbomb when a two ladies are offering a free one, along with a photo too.

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So what happens when customers get free Jägerbombs and Jack Beam? See for yourself 🙂

I don’t know the girl standing behind Nom but she was the life and soul of the party. She had everyone in tears of laughter all night long. A top girl and one that would be welcome at any party of mine. Here she has bent a drunken Nom over and well – I will leave the rest to your imagination 🙂 Jenny can be seen sitting on the bar looking weary.

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Another classic featuring the wonderful Julie, who is a regular with husband Steve at both aforementioned bars. Steve and Julie love to dance and are in fact, featured on many video recordings from this night. Friendly people who liven up every party they attend.

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The image above is one of my favourites. I had just met Karin for the first time and found her to be an outgoing person who loves to sing and enjoy herself. I snapped this photo when she was laughing and chatting with her friend Poi. Completely natural and one that I am proud of.

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Next is Martin’s girlfriend oil, who was still reasonably sober at the time but like the majority of Thai ladies, they love to dance. And boy can she dance! Later in the evening she was found on top of the bar with Jenny dancing to many party hits.

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Above, we have Poi and her magician boyfriend. The latter entertained us with some magic tricks when we required a bit of respite from the antics going on inside the bar.

Rompho throw the best parties ever. I have attending parties galore since arriving here and very few disappoint. Often people get very drunk but you never see anyone causing trouble. No requirement for bouncers here.

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I will finish with a photo taken at Phetch’s party at the Corner House, simply because I wasn’t sure what was going on but again, it depicts fun and beautiful people. Well OK – Stuart adds the fun part.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven In Pattaya

What a fantastic couple of weeks I have enjoyed as far as music is concerned. Firstly, I went to see Helmut and Friends at the wonderful Hemmingways in Jomtien, where the band blew me away, with some amazing cover versions of soul, blues and rock tunes.

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Helmut is a guitar maestro and handles everything from Mark Knopfler to Gary Moore. In fact, the whole band are superb and if you haven’t seen them and you are in the Pattaya area, head along to Hemmingways on a Thursday evening from 20:00 and observe an awesome band in action.

The food in the bar is rather tasty too, I hasten to add.

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However, this post is about a certain Jerry Lee Carlson from Sweden and Håkan Nelson, from the same country. The pair played four gigs in Pattaya and I was fortunate to see two of them.

Initially I ventured out to The Triangle in central Pattaya, where a large crowd gathered to enjoy the show and secondly at New Country Road Bar (NCR) in Rompho, which is located in the Rompho Complex in Jomtien area of the city.

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Many people said the event would never work in Rompho but my friend Martin asked me to promote it for him and I did just that. Firstly with posters and flyers then numerous videos supplied by Sweden’s number one rock ‘n’ roll star, Jerry.

Jerry has played all over the world, including tours of Europe with his legends show, featuring tributes to Elvis, Roy Orbison and of course Jerry Lee Lewis.

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He has recorded a number of albums, appeared on TV and radio and is simply, one of the best entertainers you will ever see.

A lot of planning and preparation went into the NCR event, hours of hard work, hiring equipment, tables, covers in case it rained, food and so much more. Was it worth it?

Damned right it was.

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NCR attracted 102 people seated, plus 16 inside the venue and approximately 40 bystanders, who watched from the sidelines, due to either a lack of seating or they were enjoying the event from another bar.

Jerry kicked off the show as always with thundering rock ‘n’ roll classics from his hero Jerry Lee Lewis. He sang the hits of Elvis, Fats Domino, Hank Williams and even did a rendition of a Robbie Williams hit, just to show his versatility.

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Rock, country, blues and boogie woogie tunes all blasted out from the venue. Håkan Nelson on drums was his usually faultless self ashe followed Jerry’s left hand to keep the tempo going.

People came from other bands to watch the gig. Local media in the form of Pattaya People were present to record video material, which will air shortly. Love Pattaya were represented too and kindly supplied the bar staffs shirts.

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Bar owners came from pubs in Pattaya and Rompho to enjoy a fantastic show.  Many people came to Rompho for the first time and hopefully they will return with other new faces for future events.

Jerry sang “Great Balls Of Fire”, “Whole Lotta Shaking”, “High School Confidential”, Hound Dog”, Bonnie B”, ” Mean Woman Blues”, “Lewis Boogie” and many more classics from the golden era of music.

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If ever there was a man born to entertain, Jerry Carlson is that man. He is a genius on a keyboard/piano and sounds identical to a certain Mr. Lewis, when the legend was in his prime.

He also does a great impression of Andy Kaufman’s fictional character Latka Gravas from the hit US sitcom “Taxi”.

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Jerry also impressed with a version of “Take Me Home Country Roads” with a “NEW” added into the lyrics, just for the bar. He sang ” Blueberry Hill” replacing Blueberry with Phratamnak to give the song a local feel about it. Phratamnak Hill is a popular area in Pattaya with tourists.

Yours truly even acted as compere for the night, introducing Jerry and Håkan. Not something that was planned, I can assure you but it’s amazing what you can be persuaded to do following a few Smirnoff Midnight’s.

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Jerry did three sets and even came back for an encore or two once he had washed the sweat from his face because it was incredible hot on Saturday evening.

Like many others, I felt disappointed when the show came to its conclusion. The guys had entertained us for a couple of hours but I would have happily listened for another two hours.

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I love rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly, especially when it is produced to this standard. But all good things have to come to an end – till next time that is. Jerry and Håkan’s return cannot come fast enough and rumours are rife that they may return as a trio. I hope so!!

Next up NCR have Rock ‘n’ Roll Stephanie, who will feature at Martin’s birthday party. Steph, like me, is Scottish and does a fair bit of hip shakin’ during her act.

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If that event proves successful it will pave the way for further live music events at NCR, which can only help to attract visitors to the area, which in turn will benefit the many other bars and restaurants in the complex.

I happen to know a few great singers and bands in the UK, who if they ever fancied a busman’s holiday to Pattaya, could be catered for.

Ziggi – your audience awaits you 🙂

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Helmut & Friends At Hemmingways

I have visited Hemmingways a few times for food but I have never ventured into the bar/restaurant on a Thursday. This is when they have their live music nights, which features a band known as Helmut and Friends.

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Manager Mark, had previously invited me to come along on a Thursday evening but time had always been an issue for me. However, when assisting with a promotional project for a good friend, who just happened to want to see the group, it was a sealed deal.

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But there was something else to factor into the equation.

Pranom’s mother was visiting from Roi Et and I wanted to take her to a pleasant eating establishment, where I knew the food would be of an exceptional standard and the surroundings would match the quality of the cuisine.

So with these two details taken into consideration, it had to be Hemmingways.

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As always we were greeted by one of their friendly staff as we entered the bar. A smile and a warm welcome are not unusual in Thailand but the employees here are top drawer.

The band had set up but were 30 minutes away from commencing their show. So we took the opportunity to order our food and a drink.

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I have to confess that the staff at Hemmingways are exceptional, as mentioned above.

They look after you from the minute you walk in the door. They all speak very good English, which is a huge bonus, even though I was with two Thai ladies.

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The food as always was tasty and well presented with large portions. The ladies enjoyed a Thai offering from the extensive menu and I went for a burger that was put together following  my instructions.

I was armed with my camera, for I had agreed with the bar that I would take a few images for the venue and the band.

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Having never heard Helmut and Friends play previously, I was keen to perceive what they had to offer. I had listened to mixed reviews but 90% of the people I spoke to, rated them very highly.

They would not disappoint.

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I had a twenty minute chat with Helmut before they commenced playing and discovered that they often performed as a five-piece outfit, fronted by Filipino singer Jovy Del Rosario, who by all accounts is a fantastic vocalist.

Alas, on Thursday, there were playing as a four-piece band and one wondered if it was going to be a second rate show. But they were far from that!

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They began with a number of slow songs, mainly, I would imagine, because people were still enjoying Hemmingways’ cuisine. Songs such as “My Girl” provided light entertainment, whilst the diners enjoyed their food.

The band sprung to life during their second set of the evening with an absolutely brilliant version of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”, done in their own impeccable style. The vocals on the song from Jayson Camilo were astonishing.

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They continued with well known hits such as “Africa” and “Down Under” and even had the audacity to cover Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summer Time”, which again was flawless.

During many of their songs, the band can be observed sharing jokes and generally having a great time, which often had the audience laughing along with them.

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Helmut is a huge Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits fan and let us see just how good a guitarist he is with a variety of amazing solos.

Anyone who can replicate, Knopfler on “Sultans of Swing” has to be a genius on a guitar and the song suited his vocals to a T, to quote an old idiom.

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This was jaw dropping stuff from Helmut and appreciated by those in the bar.

Then to show us their true versatility, they sang an uptempo version of Dean Martin’s “Volare” and and worked a treat. Vocals being from Jayson once more.

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In their third set they did many rock ‘n’ roll songs from the likes of Chuck Berry before displaying their versatility with Stevie Wonder classics and “Get Down On It” from the disco era. The bass playing on the Kool and the Gang hit from Jeckson Echavez was exceptional.

Drummer Marvin Javier, provided the beat and held the band together as they played hit after hit, from almost every genre of music you can imagine. The keyboard skills from Jayson and lead guitar solos from Helmut, truly are world class.

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Add into the equation, the amount of fun the band have as they play for you, and you really do have a fantastic ensemble for parties, night clubs or any other event you care to name.

Hemmingways have secured Helmut and Friends every Thursday from 20:00 and I would highly recommend, popping along to see them play. The venue is a high class establishment, spacious, air conditioned, free Wi-Fi and offers a huge selection of draught beers, wines and spirits.

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And in between the group’s sets, you can enjoy watching sport on one of their many televisions, strategically placed around the venue. They even have a beer garden, should you care to sit outside.

I would like to give a mention to the staff who work at Hemmingways. Rarely will you meet a nicer group of people, who treat their customers with the utmost respect.

From the minute you enter the premises, to the moment you leave, the crew at Hemmingways ensure you want for nothing.

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If you haven’t been there – it is well worth making the effort, whether it is for live music, excellent food or to view a sporting event on TV, Hemmingways is deserved of a visit.

Helmut and Friends were: Helmut Schachtner on vocals and guitar from Germany, Jayson Camilo, keyboard and vocals, Marvin Javier on Drums, Jeckson Echavez on bass,  all from the Philippines.

Missing was Jovy Del Roasario, whom I will make a point of going to see very soon. When someone tells you that “she will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up”, you have to take notice.

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By the way, the Hemmingways staff are a fun loving bunch too, happy to get involved with the photography.

Thanks to the band and to the management and staff. See you all soon I hope.

 

 

 

 

Songkran 2017 – The End

I wrote earlier that Songkran 2017 had so far been a huge disappointment compared to last year. But the Thai people were just saving the best for last.

Today, I travelled to Rompho Market, a large complex of bars, street food, massage shops, barbers, restaurants and other small businesses.

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I had observed from my condo window, that an assortment of small stalls were set up along the roadside, which are not normally there. Curiosity got the better of me so I had a sneak peak at what was going on.

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Street vendors were selling food, water guns, waterproof pockets and a variety of other items, which may prove useful for the water events and those in attendance.

But what was more surprising was the vast amount of people who had gathered by the side of the road, with one goal in mind – to immerse people in water.

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Now I am a good two miles from the centre of Pattaya and have never witnessed the likes of this previously. As I headed towards Rompho in my taxi, there were literally thousands of people. lining the streets and showering passersby with water.

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The traffic congestion was horrendous but far from boring. I could have spend all day watching the antics of the locals as they went about the business of soaking people or indeed being soaked in return.

A guy had a fire hose and was showering people as the they passed by in open backed pick-ups. Pick-up and trailers were full of people and containers of water. Again, there was only one place that water was going.

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People were dancing in the middle of a four lane road, which had cars using the wrong side just to make some distance, including my impatient taxi driver.

It was party time in Pattaya at last. A time for me to attempt to capture the action.

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However my camera was very much tucked away in my bag and remained there till I got to Rompho. Then I went in search of the hilarity.

It is fair to say that the majority of the people who take part in the shenanigans are either girls or kids. The men of Rompho preferring to remain in one of the fifty bars, although that did not always guarantee safety, as you can see in the second image from the top.

My good friend Jeff was treated to bucket of icy water as he enjoyed a beer.

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People walk around with buckets of what is either flour or talcum powder mixed with water, to form a paste, which they then use to cover a persons face with the substance.

I am not sure what the significance is but most people welcome the temporary facial.

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I had two fears. One was someone pouring a large bucket of water over me and drenching the camera and the other was being hit in the eye with the high powered jet from one of the water guns.

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The camera is allegedly waterproof and has had a number of wet days over the years.

The eyes however; well let’s just say one of these guns could blind someone.

I was hit in the eye on day one and I can tell you, it hurt like blazes. I did not hold back when telling the guy he was an idiot for aiming at my face. He did apologise profusely I have to add.

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Songkran from a photography point of view is a fantastic time. I only wish I had a back up camera so I could risk getting right in amongst the action but having only one with me, I opted for safer ground.

Today was the final day of the celebrations. The people of Thailand will no doubt party throughout the night but tomorrow, it will be back to work for most.

The image above of my mate Jimmy getting wet, came about because I instructed the girls and kids to target him.

This was actually the last in a series of six images. The best ones were taken seconds before but alas they were also blurry and no good.

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So it’s a sad farewell to Songkran 2017 but I sincerely hope I am around for the 2018 celebrations.

 

 

 

 

 

Brian Thomas And The Power

Anyone who knows me, will be well aware that I have a great love of music, especially live music. When it is done well that is.

Since arriving in Thailand, good music has been lacking in my life. There has been exceptions of course such as the fantastic “Jerry Lee Carlson” from Sweden but generally speaking, there isn’t much on offer here.

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Yes there are some excellent Thai bands but they are usually let down by the vocals and again, I will emphasise, there are exceptions to this rule.

Rules of course are meant to be broken.

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I have heard a couple of groups who impressed. One from Jakarta at the Hard Rock Cafe in Pattaya and another at The Corner House in Jomtien, this time from the Philippines.

But overall I haven’t been overwhelmed by the what has been on offer in Pattaya.

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Yes there are fantastic singers in the city but many rely on backing tracks and for me, this does not constitute live music. The karaoke styled singers are fine for background music or light entertainment but they cannot be taken seriously unless they play “live” with a band and without backing tracks.

Some are actually very good, for again, there are always exceptions to the rule but generally speaking, it has to be live for me.

I will take a moment to say that I know of at least two singers, who could play on any stage. They have the talent for sure but lack ambition or drive to take that vital step. I won’t put names to them, for that would be wrong of me – but I really wish they would take a chance and develop the talents they obviously have.

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I would kill to see certain entertainers here in Pattaya.

Some of the rockabilly or country bands I saw in Scotland or even a few of the many rock bands I took photos of across the UK in the year leading up to my departure from Scotland. I can always dream I suppose.

Busman’s holiday perhaps for singers/groups maybe?

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Anyway, I diversify.

A friend I met at a gig, contacted me and asked me to attend one his shows – I agreed but with trepidation.

Sure I knew he was an excellent drummer for I witnessed his ability when he performed with Jerry Lee Carlson but I knew nothing of the others he was performing with under the banner of “Brian Thomas and the Power”.

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As always I arrived early at the venue, which I knew well. In fact it was one of the first, if not “the” first bar I drank in when I arrived in Pattaya in April 2016.

Back then, every bar was new to me and I was keen to explore but I returned to the Lion Pub frequently in my first three months in Thailand, mainly for food.

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The Lion Pub is a large spacious venue, filled with high tables and stools, numerous TVs,  a couple of pool tables and a stage.

It is an excellent bar that also serves wonderful food and prides itself on its coverage of all sporting events.

If it is on, just ask at the bar and it will appear on one of the many TVs.

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However, I had never attended a music night at the Lion Pub, so not only was the band unknown to me but I didn’t know what to expect from the sound and lighting on the night either.

The latter of course being important to me as I was armed with my Nikon D750.

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The warm up for the band seemed to be prolonged and at times I considered vocalist Brian to be either a perfectionist or somewhat pedantic as he strived for a polished sound before commencing the show,

I guess a bit of both but as I was soon to discover, it was worth the wait.

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The band play a mixture of rock and soul music but they do lean heavily towards soul, even when performing rock classics. Not that they do any songs in their repertoire an injustice. Far from it, in fact.

They have an original feel about their sound that gives a uniqueness to the songs they deliver.

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Brian is an excellent vocalist. Being from New York, there is no requirement for him to put on a fake “American” accent. It comes natural.

He reminded me at times of another American singer, Huey Lewis. I am not sure if he will enjoy that comparison or not. Time will tell 🙂

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Brian is an accomplished guitar player covering both rhythm and lead variations, again with a soul music style about his play.

The bass guitarist Scott, provided the beat along with Håkan on drums and to be honest, when you added in the saxophone played by Noi, the sound was phenomenal, even before any vocals were applied.

It was evident that I was in the company of a proficient set of musicians.

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The band played a variety of well known tunes that had the audience’s feet tapping from the start.

But more was to follow when seventy-three year old John, arrived and gave the evening another dimension and the dance floor a purpose.

John loves to dance, especially to rock ‘n’ roll, which the band duly provided.

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Once John was on the floor, the ladies soon joined him much to the enjoyment of those in attendance.

Back to the band. They covered many famous and well known songs, from Motown and other soul and rock sources. INXS, The Blues Brothers, Chuck Berry, Johnny Otis, Johnny Kid and the Pirates, the Temptations, Rufus Thomas to name but a few of the artists covered by Brian and the the guys.

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The spectators were invited to join in during audience participation slots. Yes the old “na na na na na” permits everyone to take part, irrespective of what language you speak.

Overall, I was impressed by Brian and the Power and would happily venture out to see them again. I would recommend them to anyone who loves live music.

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I am always seeking good music shows, so if you know of any – get in touch. Pattaya only for obvious reasons, unless someone fancies taking me on a musical adventure 🙂

Songkran 2017

I arrived in Thailand on April 12th, 2016, just in time for the Songkran celebrations, which commenced on the thirteenth of the month.

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What an experience it was too!

Arriving from Scotland, I was thrown in at the deep end as Thailand celebrated its New Year. And I have to confess, the Thai people know how to enjoy themselves and have fun.

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It was partly because of these festivities and one or two other lifestyle changes, that influenced my decision, not to take my return flight back to my homeland. It was time for me to try something new and I believed that I had discovered just the place to begin a new and exciting life.

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When I arrived I was in the company of a fellow Scot and his Thai lady, Kenny and May. Five weeks later, I was on my lonesome. But I managed fine, met knew friends, and of course met a fantastic woman. We hit if off immediately.

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Now one year on, It is Songkran again and I was desperate for the celebrations to get underway so that I could venture out with my camera. The first day was a huge disappointment however. There was a lack of bars participating in the event compared to last year, so the hunt for a suitable vantage point to shelter from the water games was not forthcoming.

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I sat in a bar overlooking the road but alas, I failed to achieve a clear view of the activities.

Today though, I went alone, found a line of bars on the beach that were all actively immersing people with water as they passed by. I chose somewhere as close as I dared to be, for the safety of my photography equipment. It is allegedly waterproof but I don’t like to chance my luck.

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I had my first beer in over a month in bar number one, took some photos and repeated my activity in two other bars close by. Thai people love to have their photo taken and will often approach me to enquire where they may see the photos later. My Facebook friends list grows constantly because of this.

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Once I had enough images, I walked through the small alleys, taking the hits from the mixture of welcoming warm water and the incredibly freezing cold wetness from the bars that added copious amounts of ice to their supplies.

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The look on people’s faces when they are suddenly saturated in ice cold water is truly worth seeing. It is however, a different experience when it happens to you. Remember it is 32 degrees in Pattaya when someone pours icy fluid down the back of your sweaty shirt. It certainly comes as a surprise!

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Songkran is the celebration of Thialand’s New Year and is a “must see” tourist attraction. It offers not only the water sports as I call it but there are parades with people being transported around on the back of lorries dressed as anything from sailors to Thai traditional dress.

Music blares from every bar participating and massive containers are alongside the venues to hold the water, which is dispensed over walkers either by small buckets or water guns.

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It is believed that the water washes away bad luck amongst other things. So when a Thai person pours water over your head, they are basically wishing you a Happy New Year and a prosperous future.

When a tourist does it, well its because they are being childish and joining in the fun. And it is highly entertaining for those who like to participate.

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Many expats, flee the country at Songkran because they hate the time of year. I prefer to endorse it and engage in it as much as possible. I will offer myself for target practice to any child with a water gun or bucket, then enjoy their huge grins as they see me grimace when I discover the water is Baltic.

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This, for me is Thailand. Songkran, the rural provinces with the rice fields, water buffalo and ladies adorned in traditional Thai dress, is what the country is all about.

So if you ever come to the “land of smiles” do it during Songkran. You may never go home again!

Looking Back On The Things I Did

I have been feeling a bit nostalgic today so I thought I would write something around the pictures I have taken over the years.

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I began my life in photography way back in the days of film with a Praktica camera but alas I have no images from those days. They were tough on the old wallet, as mistakes cost you dearly with processing costs.

I progressed to digital photography with a Sony Mavica around 1998. The camera was shockingly bad, using the old 3.5″ floppy discs to store images on. From there I moved to a Kodak that was a huge improvement as far as image quality was concerned.

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By now I was beginning to enjoy my photography, so I purchased a Panasonic Lumix G1 with a 200mm zoom lens. It used the Micro Four Thirds system, was light and easy to use.

I was asked to do some pictures at football matches shortly after buying the Lumix. The camera was ideal for the task, until the light was poor or it was raining, which was frequent in Scotland. So a new camera was acquired in the form of a Nikon D90, which was soon replaced by the excellent D7000. I used the latter for two years before progressing to a full frame Nikon D600, D610 and finally, at the time of writing a D750. I still own a D610 but it is in Scotland awaiting shipment to Thailand.

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The first image on this post was taken with my Nikon D90 with an 18-200mm zoom lens. I was thrilled with it at the time, despite still learning how to use the camera.

I had worked on various websites as a photographer before being asked to work for the Scottish Womens Football Association. The next image was taken at Aberdeen when the Scottish ladies played host to Cameroon, on a wet and cold, wintry day. There was as much excitement in the large crowd as there was on the field of play.

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Over a period of six years, I covered hundreds, if not thousands of matches for men, women and children’s games before I finally had the opportunity to go into a studio with models.

My inaugural shoot was in Glasgow with brother and sister Tunde and Eno and despite having no knowledge of studio lighting and no assistance from the studio owner, I managed to obtain a number of decent photos. The couple can be seen in photo three.

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I was hooked. I had found an area of photography that I simply had to explore more. I loved working in a studio environment and the truth be told, it is probably the only reason I would consider returning home. I miss taking models into one of the many studios I used but in Thailand, I have yet to discover a setup that compares with what I am accustomed to.

Actually I have yet to find a studio for hire!

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I continued working at football matches but every free moment I had, I would find myself arranging studio shoots with a variety of models, covering diverse themes from Marilyn Monroe to rock chicks or glamour shoots to horror. I would point my camera at anything that I found interesting or different.

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Then one day, I was invited to a music event. A concert featuring numerous bands. Nervously I arrived at the venue, not knowing if I could capture the night’s entertainment or if it would be a complete disaster. Thankfully it proved to be another stepping stone for me, for the night was a success.

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Again, I was addicted to this new form of camera work. I did gig after gig, touring the UK, working at prestigious venues such as the O2 concert halls around England and Scotland. I also photographed an all girl punk band in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, famous for hosting “Strictly Come Dancing” these days.

Despite the travelling time, spending many nights in hotels, I was in my element.

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Not only was I getting “Access All Areas” passes to gigs but I was getting up close and personal with the bands. I was “on stage” with the groups, capturing the drummers at close range.

I met the odd famous person and many new friends, a number of which I am still in touch with today.

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Not only did I have the opportunity to work with some wonderful acts, I also took them into studios or on location, so I guess I must have been doing something right.

There were also downsides to working with music acts. Many thought that cameras grew on trees or Nikon just presented you with £20,000 worth of equipment for free. To say they were reluctant to put their hands in their pockets would be an understatement. Some people still believe that photographers should work for free.

Alas this is not the case. If you have a burst pipe, you expect to pay the plumber – right? The acts get paid, and so should the photographer.

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There were a lot of people who understand that your equipment costs money and has to be kept up to date and were happy to pay for my services.

So where I am now? Well I am currently living in Thailand and loving life but not working with the camera at least once or twice per week, irritates me.

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I have of course been out and taken many images in my time here but my objective is to return to some form of full time employment within the world of photography. It may not be here in Thailand but it needs to happen, for I have a yearning deep inside me to take photos.

Maybe I will find the cash to invest in a Nikon D800 and D5000, my dream cameras.

One day!