Monthly Archives: May 2015

Video: A River’s Tail, A Year Spent on the Mekong

Firstly, apologies for the long period of silence. I’ve been more consumed, overwhelmed, and excited by my work in the last few months than possibly at any other time in my life, and that unfortunately placed my personal blog low on the priority list. That failing is something I promise to remedy.

The project that has effectively taken over my life is called A River’s Tail. I’ve already written extensively about the origins and my motivations for undertaking such an endeavour so I will keep the details simple: myself and fellow photographer Gareth Bright are traveling the entirety of the Mekong river for the next year. Our friend and professional videographer, Pablo Chavanel, is joining us for selected legs of the journey to produce short films about the environmental issues we come across, as well as to document the behind the scenes process of what is involved in a project like this.

https://youtu.be/P0IH2tc3ta8

As I write this, we’ve already finished the Vietnam and Cambodia sections of the trip, and are preparing to head to Laos next month. This is by far the most logistically and creatively demanding thing I’ve ever attempted, and I am learning a great deal about what it means to focus on one topic for an extended period of time. While I am aware that some of photography’s greatest long-term projects have spanned decades, or even lifetimes, this is a step in the right direction for me. I am seeing clearly, maybe for the first time since I started in photography, that in order to tell a story properly I need to slow down and spend more time.

Though my income has shrunk to virtually nothing (we made an executive decision to spend the entire project budget on travel over paying ourselves), and stepping back from the hustle for publication and recognition was initially a hard adjustment (it’s addictive seeing your pictures in major media outlets), I have never been more convinced that this project is the best thing that has ever happened to me creatively and professionally.

The most frustrating aspect of the process has been the necessity of delaying publishing our material – we needed to build up a stockpile of stories in order to make sure the flow of content continued uninterrupted once we launched. I’m not used to keeping my work under wraps, and not being able to share what I’m doing despite this being one of the most productive periods in my photographic career took some getting used to.

I’m happy to say that these days of secrecy are almost at an end. A River’s Tail will launch officially on June 8th, and from that day forward we will regularly release new content for the rest of the year. Until then, I hope you’ll enjoy the trailer video that explains our basic goals and hopes for the next year on the Mekong.

If you’re anywhere near as interested in this as I am, the easiest thing to do is head to ariverstail.com and enter your email address. We’re not going to spam people with hundreds of updates, but rather we’re going to curate the best content from each month in one place. If you’re like me and can’t keep up with the countless amount of information to be consumed online, this is probably the most convenient way to follow the journey.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this video. We are all learning what sort of material resonates with people and allows them to connect to a subject, so if you particularly enjoyed (or just as valuably, hated) something about the video, leave a comment below. As happy as A River’s Tail is making us, it is ultimately about creating an engaging experience for you, the audience. Your feedback is the best way we can keep telling stories that help you connect to the world, so don’t be shy!

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