7-Day Black & White Photography Challenge

I was recently set a challenge by my friend and colleague, Stephan Audiger. Ordinarily, I don’t partake in these kinds of Facebook activities. They’re essentially the same as those old chain emails from the early days of the internet, where you have to send it on to a set number of people in order to secure good luck or prevent being murdered by a vengeful spirit. It was only really the photography aspect which made it interesting to me.

The instructions I received were among the many variations on a simple premise currently pinging around Facebook. They read as follows: “Nominated by Stephan Audiger, I have to post a black and white photo every day for 7 days. Something representing my life, with no explanation or description.” I had to follow this up each day by nominating another new person to take up the challenge.

I decided to add a couple of extra rules. Firstly, I would only post photos taken on the day. While I have a library of tens of thousands of photos taken just this year, let alone in previous years, I decided to only use fresh images. Secondly, I wanted to support those of my friends who are themselves great photographers and creative artists. The results are as follows.

Day 1: Curiosity

In accordance with the rules of the challenge, each photo was posted without an explanation. However, during the course of the challenge, I decided that I would follow it up with a blog post (this very post) to explain how exactly each picture is “something representing my life”.

This first shot was taken at Barwegrill & Smartfreshfarm – a farm-cum-restaurant in Kathu, Phuket. I was there with my colleagues for a sort of team lunch. It was indeed a very tasty lunch. While we were in the process of ordering, a cat came and jumped up next to one of my colleagues and appeared to be taking a look at the menu. Aside from being really funny and cute, I thought that this curiosity (which failed to ‘kill the cat’, incidentally) perfectly represented my own. Curiosity has been a major influence of my work and life. It was one of the driving factors for me in becoming a journalist and remains an important reason in why I love to travel.

On Day 1, I nominated my very good friend and model photography mentor, Jantira NamwongHere’s some of her work.

Day 2: Growth

This photo is actually the view out of my office window. Inspiring, isn’t it? In spite of its limitations, what I see is actually representative of me. I see large tropical plants growing up an almost sheer wall, turning a difficult situation into an opportunity for growth and development.

The white line you see about a third from the left, towards the bottom of the frame, is a falling raindrop. I was quite impressed that I managed to capture that on just an iPhone camera. I included that in the image because I wanted to show that it was raining. I was feeling a bit down that day and I thought the rain demonstrated it rather well.

On Day 2, I nominated exceptional motorsports photographer Kim HaHere’s her work.

Day 3: Food

Food is important to me. It’s as simple as that. Within a couple of weeks of starting my first full-time writing job in Oman, I was assigned as the food writer and restaurant reviewer. It has continued to be a part of my job and is even a part of this blog. I just enjoy eating and enjoy writing about food!

This particular picture was taken at a company fun day, which involved another team meal. I played quite a major role in organising the day, which is why we ended up going to my girlfriend’s restaurant.

On Day 3, I nominated a remarkable wedding, newborns, events and portrait photographer in California, USA – Olga KubrakCheck out her work.

Day 4: Humour

This rather creative take on the standard hotel “Do Not Disturb” sign gave me quite a giggle. I found it hanging on the door of my room at Casa Marocc Hotel by Andacura, which I reviewed in my last post. I feel that the sign represents me, but not in the sense that I am disturbed. Instead, the humour in the sign mirror’s my own rather odd, self-deprecating humour.

Humour and the ability to laugh at myself has been important in helping me to survive as an expatriate. Taking life and myself too seriously would have led me to be disturbed indeed.

On Day 4, I nominated the best party and events photographer I’ve ever met – Chaianan Moontreephakdee.

Day 5: Tea and Work

This photo is rather a blunt one. It was taken at the Healthy B Café in Chiang Mai, while I was processing photos from my friend Jantira’s wedding. The photo is rather obviously representative of a lot of my recent work, and especially my work on this blog. It heavily involves my Canon EOS 7D and my MacBook Pro. It also demonstrates my work ethic. Here I was, on a weekend break in Chiang Mai, relaxing in a coffee shop, and I was still working. It is the same work ethic which had me working an 80-hour week when I lived in Pattaya – I work until the job’s done.

Also tea – that’s an essential ingredient and plays a big role in keeping me going!

On Day 5, I nominated my friend and colleague from Oman. He is now the head photographer at Apex Press and Publishing. His name is Fasiuddin Syed and you can see some of his work here.

Day 6: Training

At the time of writing, I’ve now been doing regular training for a little over a year. Fitness has become a big part of my life, though not overwhelmingly so. I’m not likely to turn this travel blog into a fitness one, anyway. However, given that I’m training four times a week at Songkram Fitness, it was inevitable that a picture of my rather smelly trainers would be included in this challenge.

On Day 6, I nominated a relatively recent addition to my list of photographic friends, but he is one of the best landscape photographers I’ve ever met: Joey SantiniCheck out his work here.

Day 7: Passion

This is the only picture from my seven-day black and white photography challenge which I didn’t personally take. I am in the picture – I’m the one on the right. The people on the left are a German couple who contacted me and asked me to do a photoshoot with them. This was an example of my work with model photography.

I struggle to call this actual ‘work’ since my abilities are still limited. This is a hobby; arguably a passion. The person who took this photo and my nominee on Day 7 was my girlfriend, who is also a passion of mine. Herself passionate about cooking, she is the owner and chef at Anita’s Kitchen in Patong. You can see more of her photos here.

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Ben has been an expatriate since he was 21, a writer since he was about 10 and a photographer since he was 12. Degema Travel is the culmination of that experience.

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