Out to Space Year Three: the Exposures

April 2006March 2007

Self-portrait under Sydney Harbour Bridge, August 2006
Self-portrait under Sydney Harbour Bridge, August 2006

There were a lot going on in the year three of Out to Space. Even though, the momentum of year two was slow, toward the end of the year, my photography started to get some significant exposures.

The first three months from April to June, I still was into cityscape and urban wildlife. They seemed slightly repetitive for me. So I took a photography course at Australian Centre of Photography (ACP) to stretch my skills and perspective. Some professional and constructive criticism could do some good. My most satisfied comment was from a classmate that compared my self-portrait to Jeffrey Smart.

During that time, the restaurant I was working at was closed for renovation. I took the chance to give a go fully on my photography venture. I set up a couple of stock photo account as passive income. I travelled to Melbourne to explore another city with the photographic eyes.

A carpark in Melbourne's Dockland, August 2006
A carpark in Melbourne’s Dockland, August 2006

In September, a small opportunity knocked. I got selected to participate in a local art event, Walking the Street 06. That could be possibly my first show, then followed by ACP student group exhibition. That gave me some confidence to pitch a solo exhibition on the wall of Buzzz Bar, a restaurant gallery in Newtown.

The show, Passive Intruder, was a huge deal for me but it also put me in a huge financial stress. There was a production cost on printing and framing. It was sponsored by Prussia.Net, Stilgerrian’s geek venture. The restaurant renovation went longer than expected to November. The stock photography didn’t go so well. I was broke.

In additional notes, the second-hand iMac from the previous year died and was replaced by a MacBook Pro (late 2006). Stilgherrian let me use his credit to purchase it for me to be able to keep pursuing this.

At the same time, depression started to creep in with the questions of my place in the world. It would gradually drag me down in the later years.

However, while I felt that my photography was stagnated, my interest in subjects was shifted. I got obsessive with furniture dumps on the street and accumulated an enormous photo collection them. With the emerging camera phone, Nokia N90, it made it easy to capture and keep but not yet sharing them on the web. (Remember, that was 2006.) I didn’t really know what to do with them until the following years. But I kept photographing them and observe the urban living through their presences with videos.

I first experimented on video slideshow with urban abstract in the back land on Cavendish Lane. I had produced lots of corporate videos but it was in my past life in Bangkok and had not practiced it since moved to Sydney. My first video was a bit long but forgivably conceptual. The main hassle turned to embed it onto a webpage. (Remember, again, that was 2006. YouTube was very young.) From my vague memory, it was a more that just one click to get a video on the blog post. To be safe, it was uploaded to the server and let people download to see the video.

Another new theme that came to me was colourful events in Sydney. It started with Newtown Festival, an annual local art and music festival. A bunch of dots was the beginning I assigned a concept to an event photography, which led to my interest in the city’s multiculturalism.

Unfortunately, the blog platform didn’t support multiple images in a post and I needed gallery feature to be able to tell story. The solution was Flickr sets to organise photo collections. It became the first social media I was really hooked into.

That led me to a big break as a one of Sydney’s Mardi Gras 2007 festival official photographers with others in the Sydney Photo Blogger group. I pitched the job through a Flickr set of Mardi Gras Fair Day. In the hindsight, I had volunteered in their party events before as a stage manager in 2003. I told myself then I wanted to take photo of that decadent craziness.

The first Mardi Gras photo session was intense. It was non-stop from pre-parade in the afternoon, the parade in the evening, and the party until dawn. By the sun came up, we were smashed but it felt so good! And I wanted more.

By the end of year three, I found there were less of urban wildlife and urban landscape from year two. There was limitation a single image could do. I explored more of the subjects and medium. Out to Space would have to get evolved.

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