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OBSERVATIONS FIRST LAST NAME

VOL 1 / NO 2 2016 OBSERVECOLLECTIVE.COM

PERSONAL REFLECTIONS ON FEAR FROM MEMBERS OF OBSERVE COLLECTIVE

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02

DANIELLE HOUGHTON

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ILYA SHTUTSA

34

RONEN BERKA

50

LARRY COHEN

62

GREG ALLIKAS

80

MICHAEL MAY

96

TOM YOUNG

108

DAVID HORTON

120

TAVEPONG PRATOOMWONG


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THE YEAR OF FEAR 2016 was the Year of Fear. It is known as a great motivator—perhaps the greatest. But it can also cripple. Fear can unite us, but can divide us just as easily. This was the year of Trump, and of Brexit. When given the option of staying open to the world, voters said “Thanks very much, but we no longer trust it.” They chose the Wall, and to pull the drawbridge up on the island. It was also the year of Aleppo. If so many other things were merely bogeymen, the death and destruction in Syria was our worst fears realized. A child, shocked and bloodied from a bomb blast. A once-prosperous city reduced to rubble. Final phone calls to anyone who might listen. And after all that, a diplomat murdered, a gun pointed and a finger raised in accusation, while the cameras rolled. What does our future hold? Some of us will perhaps be unlucky enough to experience true terror in 2017. But even the rest of us, the lucky ones, will not be able to escape fear this coming year. It is all around us now, we are steeped in it. Fear is nothing new, it presents itself every day. It can scare our families through poor health or accident. It can shake confidence in our jobs through economic instability. It can threaten to invade our homes through crime or disaster. Yet fear is kept at bay through its great counterweight. Despite the possibility of danger, loss, or pain that we face in thousands of ways every day, we dare to hope. Hope makes getting out of bed easier each day. We see our children succeed, our investments grow, our love increase. Facing our fears takes courage, and builds strength. For this issue of Observations, we chose to face fear. Perhaps by exposing our fears, we can more easily overcome them. Perhaps by opening fear up through the camera, we can help to turn it to its opposite. We can only hope.


DUBLIN, IRELAND

DANIELLE HOUGHTON


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So what do I fear? I fear for my kids’ future. I fear for those being hurt or lonely in the ageing process. I fear heights, the bark of an unfriendly dog, and sometimes, I fear showing too much of myself through my work. Do I simply want to be private and stay anonymous or is it not wanting to be raw, to feel, to touch a nerve? I fear you will never know.


DANIELLE HOUGHTON

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Aquaphobia ‌or waterfright is a persistent and abnormal fear of water. Patients suffer aquaphobia even though they realize the water is an ocean, a river, or even a bathtub poses no imminent threat. They may avoid such activities as boating and swimming, despite having mastered basic swimming skills. This anxiety commonly extends to getting wet or splashed with water when it is unexpected, or being pushed or thrown into a body of water.


Taphophobia ‌is the irrational fear of being buried alive. It is closely related to other phobias such as: fear of death, fear of tombstones, fear of cemeteries, fear of tight and enclosed spaces, etc.


DANIELLE HOUGHTON

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DANIELLE HOUGHTON

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Prasinophobia ‌is fear of the color green. This fear is often associated with the fear of vegetation. The fear may come about due to traumatic experiences involving the color green or vegetation, like getting cut by a poison ivy or dealing with unwanted plants like algae in the swimming pool, weeds or vines.


DANIELLE HOUGHTON

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Cleithrophobia ‌is a fear of being trapped or locked in an enclosed space. The origin of the word is from the Greek words cleio, which means to shut or to close and phobia, which implies a persistent fear.


Incarcerophobia ‌is the fear of going to jail or prison. Anybody can suffer this fear even though they’ve done nothing illegal in their lives. Sufferers would do anything to stay out of trouble.


DANIELLE HOUGHTON

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Gerascophobia ‌is an abnormal or persistent fear of growing old or ageing. Gerascophobia may be based on anxieties of being left alone, without resources and incapable of caring for oneself. Sufferers may be young and healthy.


DANIELLE HOUGHTON

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DANIELLE HOUGHTON

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Apotemnophobia ‌is a pathological fear of amputation or amputees. When a person who suffers from this particular phobia sees an amputee, they will ceaselessly feel stressed and attempt to escape the situation. In grave circumstances, a fight-or-flight response or panic attack might occur.


Nyctophobia ‌is a phobia characterized by a severe fear of the dark. It is triggered by the brain’s disfigured perception of what would, or could, happen when in a dark environment. It can also be temporarily triggered if the mind is unsteady or scared about recent events or ideas, or a partaking in content the brain considers a threat.


DANIELLE HOUGHTON

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SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

ILYA SHTUTSA


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We love you, Mr. President You live in Russia. Every morning you get up, drink your coffee and read your newsfeed with trepidation—what is the news today? Crimea is annexed. Polite people a/k/a little green men have been seen in Donbass and, finally, the government confess—yes, it’s a war between Russia and Ukraine. Russian troops are sent to Syria. A Malaysian Boeing has been shot down. The cumulative component of retirement pension is canceled. A Euro costs hundred rubles. A huge sum of money comparable to the budget of a small African country has been found in the house of Economic Crime Department Officer. The First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation claims that Russians are ready to go through any hardships, to consume less of electricity and food but they will never betray their leader, who owns a castle in Austria, not to mention several elite apartments in London and Moscow. Furthermore, his wife flies with her corgis to dog shows on a private Bombardier Global Express jet. As an answer to the question of Crimean retirees about indexation of their pensions the prime minister of Russia says—We have no money. Hold on. My best wishes to you. Russia imposes contra-sanctions against the EU. Construction vehicles crush 10 tons of contraband foreign cheese in Belgorod. Moscow Orthodox churches are to pray for Russian import substitution. They also pray for progress in school studies. It may be apropos to mention that the average salary of a schoolteacher in Russia is 200 dollars per month.


Nevertheless, according to statistics, about 80% of people support President Putin. I read recently on Facebook about an overheard conversation. Before the elections for the State Duma, a woman distributing flyers in apartment block entrances was asked who is she proposing to vote for. The answer was—I’m not sure, it seems to be A Just Russia, but I understand that all politicians are thieves, you can trust no one, except Putin, of course! Are you sure? asked her questioner. Maybe Putin is the main thief? How is it possible, replied the woman, he is a faithful orthodox!


ILYA SHTUTSA

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It’s clear that the president is only a common unremarkable person who was lifted up to the top by the power of destiny. He is afraid of everything and most of all he is afraid that he’ll lose his power and presidential immunity and will become responsible for all he has done. So it seems to be that he is going to cling onto his post until the last moment of his life. He is not the root of the evil, but he is its personification. He is a symbol of the current political system, of our government and its relation to the people. A symbol of hopelessness and never changing the status quo. But, as I’ve already said, it is not true for 80% of Russians. For them the president is a symbol of order, a symbol of hope and a prosperous future, a shining image of national paternalism. And this is what I’m afraid of. Several years ago I started to notice and collect the visual evidence of their love for the president. This is how “We love you, Mr. President” was born.


ILYA SHTUTSA

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ILYA SHTUTSA

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ILYA SHTUTSA

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ILYA SHTUTSA

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ILYA SHTUTSA

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TEL AVIV, ISRAEL

RONEN BERKA


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It was a beautiful early morning on vacation with my family on Ko Samui island in Thailand, back in October of 2004. I had just come back from a nine-hole golf game but it was still only 7 am and the hotel was still asleep. I went into to the hotel, walking quietly to the public area. I passed by the swimming pool on my way to the restaurant to get breakfast. A minute or two after I passed by the pool, coming from behind me, I heard it. A small thud in the water. I turned around. I couldn’t make out anything at first. It took several long seconds until I saw something sinking. It was my son. A year and a half old. I jumped into the water. Without thinking, of course. It was the scariest moment of my life. It took us hours to recover that day, but the gauzy scrim of dread still remains.


RONEN BERKA

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RONEN BERKA

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RONEN BERKA

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RONEN BERKA

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RONEN BERKA

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RONEN BERKA

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RONEN BERKA

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BALTIMORE, UNITED STATES

LARRY COHEN


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Early in 2015, I asked myself, “I Shot Baltimore?” I then derisively chuckled, “No... you haven’t and you don’t.”


LARRY COHEN

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LARRY COHEN

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I was referring to my Flickr handle which links the photos I make to the town in which I live. It’s something I had always unknowingly known beneath my flowing Facebook and Flickr photo-streams, though others may have thought differently. Fact is: I Shot Baltimore shot Baltimore mostly within the comfort of the White Bubble I lived within. I sought out opportunities to shoot as I do in the relative comfort of main thoroughfares, parades, festivals and the like. I stopped my car to get out and shoot things I appreciated on occasion, but my skin separated me from the game. The game being the rhythm of the streets.


It was then that I made the decision to get out of my comfort zone and approach something I knew was inside of me, that was ingrained in me since birth in a myriad of ways and that was my own racism. One thing I was sure of is that there was so much I didn’t know and that no matter how much I liked to think I understood it intellectually as a good little righteous progressive, internalizing these things is a different matter. I could have just not cared, but I have one life, one city, one passion— photography, and at the heart of it: The shit ain’t fair. Not only is it unfair, but the ramifications, the repercussions, the trauma and the history runs so deep that we all feel it. In allies and enemies alike. Worst of all? Those on the sidelines accepting, hiding, or ignoring—losing for fear of loss.


LARRY COHEN

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LARRY COHEN

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What do I fear? I fear the theft of my camera, but I fear it because of class, not race. There are people who have lost their way because their most basic needs are not being met when they could be. I fear it because I cannot afford a new camera. Like most fears, I can choose to place blame and insulate myself from it or take personal responsibility. Can you imagine having someone walk to the other side of the street or dramatically clutch their possessions because of the color of your skin on the daily? Day after week after year after decade…? It is my choice to accept the possibility of theft because I will not leave a lifelong trail of victims of my own fears. As for my/our victims, can you imagine the strength it takes to keep your love and suppress your anger? That’s the type of person who inspires me, who solidifies my priorities, who makes me want to contribute what I could because I can. There are so many of these types of people that it brings awe and shatters perceptions— forreal. Race is such a false division and the very reason why we all can’t get to the starting line. Fear or Love. The choice is ours. For me, the reward is feeling the rhythm of the street because that’s from where we city folk flow.


LARRY COHEN

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As I write this, I’m sitting on the fire escape of my new apartment in West Baltimore, a few blocks east and south of PennNorth, where the CVS was torched during The Uprising. I am wearing a hoodie. I am no longer a tourist.


BREVARD, UNITED STATES

GREG ALLIKAS


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Fear. I know fear. We’ve all experienced that adrenaline-filled, heart-stopping moment when a car pulls out in front of you and you are barely able to stop in time. Or when a glance from a stranger makes you realize that you may have pointed your camera at the wrong person. Your heart starts beating like a samba band. Oh shit. There is the fear of neglect when you are not prepared for a college exam or forget to dot an “i” or cross a “t” in your professional life and you agonize as you hope for the best, wishing you could go back in time and prevent the consequences that are about to happen. Some are cursed with lifelong fear of a thing or place. Acrophobia (fear of heights), Claustrophobia (fear of closed in spaces), Coulrophobia (fear of clowns), Enochlophobia (fear of crowds), Ichthyophobia (fear of fish), Pediophobia (fear of dolls) and here’s a good one, Nomophobia (fear of being out of mobile phone contact). Day after day of fear can literally rule a person’s life. The fear I know is deep-seated and with me every day when I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night and it stabs me like a knife. Will the life before me be truly different than the life behind me? Will I ever again be able to run down Fifth Avenue laughing like a school kid over some guy with big hair? Will I be able to continue hiking the trails in this beautiful place I have chosen so spend the rest of my life?


I have always had back problems. Up until 2011 it was manageable with regular visits to the chiropractor. Then I overdid it with my exercise routine and ended up spending an entire month in misery. After, an MRI my problem had a name. Between then and now I have managed it, which is the best you can do. But sometime in May this year, I overdid a fitness routine once again and in midJune my back “went out” or so I thought. As I write this, it is the beginning of November and I have just had my third epidural. I am about 50% better than three weeks ago but only 50% as good as a year ago. I take a nerve-block drug three times a day and painkillers as needed. I can do things but I usually pay a price. I went to the big Halloween fest in town at the end of October. A day later I felt as if I had run a 5k… without training for it. It’s not so much the back that hurts with spinal stenosis, it’s the legs. I had walked about two miles over flat terrain that day. That’s not much for a street photographer. Surgery is eventual but it is not guaranteed to help or last forever. The outcome I fear most would change my future in street photography. It may be very limited: drive to a spot, watch the people go by. Yeah, just pissing and moaning, I know. Other people have it far worse. Probably. But for me, if I can’t walk more than fifty yards what would that future look like? So with the theme of fear for the current edition of our magazine, I have chosen to portray things that people might fear, rather than people showing fear. I am offering images that illustrate or symbolize our fears and phobias.


GREG ALLIKAS

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GREG ALLIKAS

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GREG ALLIKAS

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GREG ALLIKAS

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GREG ALLIKAS

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GREG ALLIKAS

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GREG ALLIKAS

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GREG ALLIKAS

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ISERLOHN, GERMANY

MICHAEL MAY


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No one is free of fear. Fear is a fundamental, sometimes life-saving, emotion. Fear constantly urges us to be alert when crossing the street, makes us fasten our seatbelts before driving, prevents us from going outside during a storm and reminds us to lock the front door at night. We may at times not even realise how fear guides us through life’s many perils. Fear can provide the impetus to overcome obstacles, whether through taking precautions or taking resolute action. In our modern times, we’re frequently faced with potentially daunting situations: concern about the people we care about, deteriorating workplace conditions, illness, icy streets during winter, exams (not bound to any season), face-to-face conversations with our employer, travels by plane or dentist appointments. Some of these scenarios are really quite harmless when looked at objectively. Such privileged first world anxieties are, of course, nothing compared to the considerably more existential frights known in other parts of the planet, places haunted by war, hunger and poverty. Regardless, however, of where we are born, we all know the notion of fear, but may be fortunate enough to put fear in its place and not be governed by its grip. Obviously, I’m not a psychologist, but I do believe that our social surroundings and family structures define us for better or worse. They may weaken us and increase our fears of the world, or, on the contrary (and quite preferably), give us the strength to cope with whatever scares us. A photo series showcasing fear should, to my mind, be based on the photographer’s personality and how they reflect this complex topic in their pictures. The latter should not only put people’s timid facial expressions on display, but also affect the viewer on a more basic and subtle, semantic level.


MICHAEL MAY

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MICHAEL MAY

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MICHAEL MAY

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MICHAEL MAY

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MICHAEL MAY

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MICHAEL MAY

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MICHAEL MAY

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EDMONTON, CANADA

TOM YOUNG


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Light and Dark Ugh. Fear. The world is full of it today. For a species that is compelled to live in groups and be social, we sure do seem to have a hard time getting along. What is wrong with us? Once bitten, twice shy. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. These phrases speak to protective impulses, and to the propensity for human beings to treat each other badly and to take advantage of weakness. We are capable of better than this.


TOM YOUNG

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Antonyms of the word fear: calmness, confidence, trust. Love. Can we only feel these things when the world is stable, when things are going our way? I think not. Calmness and confidence, these are things which must be projected, but can become contagious. Love, certainly, can be found in the most unlikely situations, the scariest of environments. But love is, always, a leap of sorts, sometimes sparked by chemistry, cemented by connection and experience. Trust. The most mutual of characteristics. It takes two, at least. And can be undermined by a single act. But trust is what we need more of. Trust of ourselves, trust of others. Belief, in humanity, of all colours and backgrounds. It requires openness. A willingness to think of others as being equal to ourselves.


TOM YOUNG

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TOM YOUNG

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Fear is something I have struggled with recently. Thankfully, not with respect to personal safety or economic stability. My fears have been emotional and personal. In our last magazine I wrote about the challenges of getting over divorce. This is behind me now, and yet I still carry baggage from the experience. I look for love yet wonder whether I can trust again. The ability to trust will depend partly on the character of the person on the other side, but fundamentally, it starts with me. No matter how trustworthy the candidate, no one can be trusted unless I open myself to it. And from this could flow calmness and confidence. Perhaps, hopefully, love.


TOM YOUNG

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I don’t think this is terribly different from where the world is today. We fear people of other colours and cultures, of different educational backgrounds and incomes, of different sexual orientations. We mistrust their intentions. We close them out and judge them to be alien and unable to share our experiences and values based on assumptions. We refuse to let them in, literally and figuratively, emphasize how they are different, and refuse to acknowledge the much more numerous ways they are the same as us. But as with matters of the heart, if we stay closed and uncurious to what others have to offer, do we not help to create the conditions we fear the most?


TOM YOUNG

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This little essay is imprecise. I am speaking in generalities because there is no one source of fear. It is, in many ways, the inability to articulate precisely what we fear that feeds it. If you can name something precisely and understand its bounds, you can address it. If you struggle to enunciate it, it grows in power and mystique. It lurks in the shadows and expands. Love is light, fear is darkness. I say choose light, choose trust, choose openness. That which we bring out into the open is that which can be more easily embraced. And no one built a future together in the darkness.


BOSTON, UNITED STATES

DAVID HORTON


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The saying goes, “little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems.” I don’t think it’s completely accurate but there is something to the sense of control you think you have when your kids are younger. When there’s a problem, it’s your job to solve it. When they misbehave, a timeout or grounding means something. When they’re sick, you bring them to a doctor. If there are complications, you find another doctor. You feel in control because it’s your responsibility to solve the problems. At least you can do something. And then that sense of control disappears one day when they become adults, when your service is no longer desired. Of course, this is normal and the way it should be, unless they’re in pain and suffering and they still don’t want your help. For nearly two years, I’ve been watching my youngest son struggle with depression and addiction. One’s instinct as a parent is to jump to action and address the problem—call the doctors, find the therapists, visit the treatment centers—only to discover that this is not a problem you can solve. This isn’t your problem to solve! You can provide all the resources and recommendations in the world but you can’t enforce them. This problem will only be solved when your child is ready to start working towards a solution. And that’s a very scary place to find yourself as a parent. You feel completely helpless. Like every parent, I photographed my kids a lot while they were growing up. The camera does love certain people and my youngest son is one of them. He understands the camera and how to make connections with it. I figured this out pretty early on and started taking portraits of him at a young age. I’ve continued this into his adulthood. Words don’t come easy for my son—especially around complex issues like expressing feelings and emotions. When other methods failed, I used the process of photography to try to connect and communicate with him. The following photographs are attempts for me to process some of the past two years.


DAVID HORTON

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DAVID HORTON

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DAVID HORTON

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DAVID HORTON

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DAVID HORTON

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BANGKOK, THAILAND

TAVEPONG PRATOOMWONG


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I wish this day had never come Being born and raised in Thailand, I would always see this man everywhere, on the tv, in the cinema, in calendars, on banknotes, coins etc... Of course I’m speaking of our beloved King of Thailand. Foreigners may be curious as to why Thais give so much respect to this person. Well, it’s because he never acted like a stereotypical king. Instead of being hidden away in his palace, King Bhumibol Adulyadej decided he would always visit his people, in every corner of the country. He wanted to hear and see the real problems out there. Sometimes foreign media reported ‘he’s like a god’ but I would disagree: the King was more like a dad, a dad who worked very hard during his long, 70-year reign. This is why we wish this day had never come. October 13th, 2016 was the hardest day in my days as a photographer. When I arrived at Siriraj Hospital just after sunset, so many people were already there to pray for their King to get well soon. The atmosphere and sound of people saying “long live the king” made me want to cry, so it was extremely hard to concentrate and take photos. There was no television or radio outside the hospital, so no one knew what was happening but suddenly there were sounds of crying from somewhere and it spread across the crowds in a matter of seconds. My fears were confirmed and I too began to cry together with my dad’s people. I had never seen so many crying like this in all my life and at first I couldn’t take any pictures. However, after some minutes had passed I decided to do my best to try and document this historic day, so that our children in the future will know there used to be a good king, a king who people loved and lost, as if he was their own father.


TAVEPONG PRATOOMWONG

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TAVEPONG PRATOOMWONG

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TAVEPONG PRATOOMWONG

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TAVEPONG PRATOOMWONG

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FIRST LAST NAME

Š 2016 Observe Collective All images in this issue are the property of the respective photographer and cannot be reproduced without the express consent of the copyright holder. No part of this magazine may be used in part or in full without the express written permission of Observe Collective.

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Profile for Observe Collective

Observations Vol 1., No 2., 2016  

Personal reflections on fear from members of Observe Collective.

Observations Vol 1., No 2., 2016  

Personal reflections on fear from members of Observe Collective.

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