Cats Monks & Temples: A Photographic Journey
I want to create an inspirational photography book of Southeast Asian temples, monks, and the animals they care about.
Your help could turn a dream into a reality.
It's time to get these unique photographs off my computer so they can be shared with the rest of the world. But it turns out I can't do it alone.
Originally, I planned on doing everything myself, from visiting the temples to distributing the finished book. It has taken me three long years to swallow my pride and accept the fact that I can't do it by myself.
One of this monk's cats didn't seem to like my camera. His temple is located on the Chao Phraya River, which runs through Bangkok after nourishing Thailand's agricultural heartland.
What I now hope to do is hand all these photographs over to a professional publisher and that is where I could really use some help. STWIM
I recently finished sorting through the several thousand images I've taken since 2007 but I've never published a book of photographs before. This would be a first, and I want the quality to be as close to perfect as possible. That is my promise to you. STWIM
A 92-year old monk feeding his cats at a temple 12 miles outside of Bangkok
These subjects deserve to be shared with the world in their best possible light and I would rather not publish the photographs than have my name on some cheap book, you know, the kind of photo album anyone can order from one of those do-it-yourself kiosks in mall?
In Southeast Asia, when people are unable to care for their animals, they often leave them at the temples where they know the monks and nuns will look after them. It turns out that there are far fewer animal shelters in Asia than in most western countries.
I began photographing the animals at the temples in 2007, concentrating mainly on the temple cats. I have been back to Asia three times since then. STWIM
In Southeast Asia, a Buddhist temple can also be a school, a health clinic, a parking lot, a photogenic tourist attraction, a restaurant, a setting to take one's wedding vows, a day market, or simply a place to relax and escape the noises of everyday life in the city.
This Buddhist nun in Krabi Province knew no English and my Thai was not much better, but without me asking she disappeared into her room and returned with two gorgeous cats for me to photograph. As I later reviewed the photos to make sure I got the shot, the pride I saw on her face made all the minor irritations I often put up with -- like barking, territorial, temple dogs, salty sweat mixed with sunscreen dripping off my forehead and stinging my eyes, or having to skip both breakfast and lunch on an empty stomach -- just a distant memory.
These are a sampling of the over 3500 high-resolution photographs I took while backpacking through Asia. As a backer, if you would like a personally signed print of any of them, please note the country and number just below the photograph and take your pick.
A H'mong family crossing a river at dusk just outside of Vang Vieng, Laos during the dry season. The hill tribes in this area of Central Laos make a living picking wild Chinese herbs growing on the mountains in the morning and then selling them at the market in town during the day. In the evening they return to their villages with empty baskets.
I often came across temples in Thailand situated on the banks of rivers and canals because Buddhist monks traditionally needed boats to get to them. Southeast Asian culture is largely centered on water and Thailand even has its own 3-day water festival every April (5 days if it falls next to a weekend). STWIM
Jumping Cat Temple is on stilts perched above Inle Lake, the largest body of water in Myanmar. Several decades ago, a resident abbot of the temple trained his cats to perform tricks for treats. I had to hire a long-tail boat to get to this remote ancient wooden temple with a tin roof in the middle of a lake. But it was worth it. STWIM
For equipment I used a professional Nikon D300 DSLR camera and usually favored Nikon's 10mm fisheye lens, but I also used Nikon's popular 50mm portrait lens at some temples where the light was more favorable.
Your help could keep this project alive. By backing me, I will take your support as incentive to keep going and as a vote of confidence that my taking on this unique subject wasn't a waste of time after all.
Another popular location for Buddhist temples is on the tops of mountains, which allows the "pilgrim" to experience a small reward after the "sacrifice" of making it all the way to the top. The most challenging temple for me was near Krabi, Thailand.
The 8x10 inch (20x25cm) softcover book will be at least 100 pages of premium matt (or better) paper featuring over 200 of my most inspiring photos of temples, people, and animals of Southeast Asia.
I prefer natural light and almost never use a flash . . but the photographic opportunity above was just too difficult to pass up. These two calicos barely noticed the flash.
With your help, if I'm fortunate enough to surpass my funding goal, I plan to use any extra funds to purchase new lenses and a full-frame camera since one of the downsides of traveling is that my equipment takes an awful beating. Visit my website at STWIM for more photos as well as more information on any upcoming projects.
Risks and challenges
All the photographs for the book have already been taken, so that hurdle has been accomplished. My main challenge will probably be coordinating printing, and the distribution of rewards. Even though I believe each of the photos is ready to be published as is, any color correction the publisher feels are necessary will be done by the publisher with their own software.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (60 days)