It was April 2009. I had purchased my first DSLR five months early in December 2008. Inspired by the Daily Dose of Imagery blog I embarked on my own daily journey to post an image a day from my everyday life. The reasoning for this was to keep myself motivated to shoot. If I had to post an image each day, it meant that I had to go out often to actually take photos.
So "I am Bidong" was born. It was named after an island in Malaysia, Pulau Bidong. It served as a refugee camp for many Vietnamese who fled post-war from the late 1970's up until the 1990's. It was where I was born and a place that I subsequently got to visit and document.
It was a blog by me for me. I wanted to be able to see my progress as a photographer from the time I started, not knowing at all where it would take me. Admittedly, most of my earlier stuff is crap. Even my current blog content isn't always good as it should be (I can only hope people at least find it entertaining). For my 1,000th post I wanted to share the stories of a few people who've helped shaped me as a photographer.
Famed photographer Thomas Hawk once described Tomms as the "King of Toronto". I had met Tomms briefly at an exhibition one of our mutual friends was hosting at York University. I was a huge fan of his work. At that point he was already well established in the art of rooftopping and I was very new to it. Since meeting we've smashed some roofs, gone to prison, and ate a lot of BBQ pork. Though he is most well known for his rooftopping images, he is also an incredibly talented street photographer, often putting together Scenes from Toronto Streets for BlogTO.
2. Eric Kim
On the topic of street photography...most people who are familiar with modern day street photography are likely familiar with the name Eric Kim. He looks like a Korean tourist armed with a Leica, flash, and a lot of guts (see the video above I took of him at Dundas Square). After spending a few days with him at the workshop he hosted in Toronto last October, I had truly turned a corner with my street photography. Two of the most important things I learned from Eric were how to identify people who will not have a negative reaction (or who actually want their photo to be taken) and how to interact with people after you've taken their image.
Through a series of strange occurrences and lucky breaks, Eric and I have become really good friends. I even get to do some work for him which is a great way for me to learn more about street photography. I also get to interact with those already established in this field as well as communicate with a lot of his followers. It's a great gig!
3. Rob Monaghan
I think my love for the city of Detroit can be attributed to one man -- Rob Monaghan aka Detroit Liger. When I hear the word "Detroit" it's Rob's images that I see. They're an honest and true reflection of the city; both good and bad. Honest but hopeful. It isn't all just bombed out buildings, empty streets, and burnt down houses...but yes, some of it is.
Before I first visited Detroit, I did a lot of research trying to find the right person to act as a tour guide. When I saw Rob's photos, I knew he was the man for the job. Little did he know that the job was crap. It paid nothing, there was no room for advancement, and he was tied into the job long term.
4. Sir Dr. Ronnie Yip PhD Esq.
I don't remember exactly how I met Ronnie. I knew that we started photography around the same time and we were side-by-side exploring our first abandoned building. We later developed an appreciation for street photography (he did before me) as well as rooftops. His work has been published all over the place and though I am proud, I also like to view Ronnie as competition. I'm the younger better looking little brother that's always trying to out-do his big bro. And for the record, I am still waiting on royalties from this image he STOLE FROM ME. Time to call my lawyers...
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