Postcard From Chiang Mai

In Travel by David18 Comments


Hello from northern Thailand. We’re in Chiang Mai today and tomorrow morning (now this morning, took forEVER to post this) before turning in our scooters and hopping a bus for Chiang Rai. We’re about a third into the trip and it’s gone absolutely par for the course. Gavin Gough met us at the airport. Endlessly kind and helpful, the man’s hospitality seems to know no bounds. It’s been months since we’ve seen him so it was good to catch up, even so late. Flights got in close to midnight and still he was there with a driver to take us to the Lub-d Hostel, and up at the crack of dawn to take us for a day shooting on the outskirts of Bangkok.

The next day Gavin met us at 5pm, took us to the train station and Henri and I began our 14 hour overnight train ride to Chiang Mai. I left home on the 31st of July, it’s the 5th now, almost the 6th, and it’s taken me this long to find my strides, stir up my vision, and stop moaning and whining for lack of it. Happens this way everytime, and it’s only once I’ve found a way through the self-pity, and let go of the expectations, that I’ve been able to go chasing something I’ve really enjoyed. This morning Henri and I jumped on our scooters, headed east out of the city and just kept driving under darkening skies until I gave up looking so damn hard for something to shoot. Inevitably it’s then I see something, this time rice patties. It’s planting time and I’ve had a long visual love affair with rice but had few chances to shoot it on my own terms at planting or harvest time. Today I jumped into the patties and started shooting, to the delight of the workers in the field. And when I found a similar thing going on in front of a row of TeePee replicas, how could I resist?

I’m still finding it hard. Shooting only what the heart or eye is drawn to, and not having a client to tell me otherwise, means there will be long days when you see nothing. Sure, it’s all exotic and interesting in a cumulative kind of way, but not in a way in which it all comes together in one frame – that takes much more patience and serendipity. And when it DOES happen it means whipping off yer boots and getting into the muck without asking too many questions. Today was a great day. When I have moments of connection and laughter with people, when I get dirty and sweaty, when I can ride a scooter wherever I like, and then in the middle of all that create some images I love…hard to beat this job.

Hope yer all getting along without me. Oddly, I miss y’all more than usual. And by that I mostly mean I miss my wife, but feel free to include yerselves in the people being missed because we spend time together every day and darn it, y’all are good people. To Chiang Rai tomorrow. Will do my best to drop a postcard into the mail from there too.


  1. Pingback: Postcard From Chiang Mai - David duChemin (pixelatedimage) @ Photo News Today

  2. Am so relieved to hear you write about the flux and flow in your life of taking pictures… thought it was just me struggling with the inner-whinger (I’m hungry, god the camera weighs a ton, I can’t see ANYTHING…) but to know you go thru all that and more and STILL the awesome, awesome images keep coming through you – is very encouraging.

  3. I like the composition and processing tone on this shot a lot. You got everything lined up nicely not to overlap and got smiles on both of their faces. Well done.

  4. I have fond memories of Chiang Mai – I guess you have moved on already but there is a couple orphanages that I would have recommended you visit. One is an AIDs orphanage called Agape and another one called ZOE – if you pass back on the way back try and pop by! Sawadi Kupp brother!

  5. Rice fields and teepees… what a fabulous mix! I too hope you’re having a fantastic time 🙂

  6. Author

    @Ray K – If my third book comes out in the first part of 2010 that gives you plenty of time to memorize both Within The Frame and VisionMongers. Or to go shooting. 🙂

  7. You are missed here as well. Hope the journey is as fun and rewarding as it can possibly be. The hard parts melt, and the good grows with time.

  8. Author

    @Jeff Lynch – Well I *could* tell you how I did this duotone but then I’d have nothing to tell you in my third book. Can you wait until May 2010-ish? 🙂

  9. I never made it to the north – but I’ll have to someday… I hear someone leads great Thai workshops…

  10. Chiang Mai? I love that town! I met my wife (who’s from Malaysia) at a conference there. If it’s not too late, have a cup of tea at the Rincome Hotel in our honor. 🙂

    OK, reading your post. Moaning and whining for lack of vision? Good thing is, sometimes the Vision comes and finds US whether or not we’re even pining for it.

    Shoot the rice, soak it in.

  11. Glad to hear you’re having fun again, David. You deserve it.

    I have that same weird love for rice paddies – got stuck almost knee deep multiple times in Bali!

    Have fun and be safe.


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