VIDEO: Janet Mock and Isis King - They Talk About The T-Word In Depth > late ******

Janet Mock

They Talk About The T-Word
In Depth



tw: they talk about the t-word in depth, without censoring.


Here is a wonderful positive video with Janet Mock and Isis King. Two beautiful transwomen of color who are in the entertainment industry. Here they are having a conversation about transwomen in the media. Harmony Santana and Laverne Cox, two more transwomen of color, both make an appearance.

So lovely. I have the hugest crush on Janet Mock.


just… this, so much. i love these sistas.


VIDEO: Who's That Girl: Women of Color and Hip Hop by Nuala Cabral

Nuala Cabral



Through personal testimony and heated dialogue, hip hop fans and artists speak critically and candidly about an inner conflict, corporate control, and hopes for a music. 

This film was shot in 2003- 2007. 

Original short was a student film titled "Reflections on Women of Color and Hip Hop" which screened at the Pan African Film Festival in 2006.

HISTORY: March 21, 1960 - South African Police Kill 69 Black Protesters in Sharpeville Massacre > NYTimes-com

March 21, 1960

| South African Police Kill 69

Black Protesters in

Sharpeville Massacre

KeystoneBodies of protesters lay on the ground in the aftermath of the Sharpeville massacre.
On March 21, 1960, South African police officers opened fire on a crowd of black protesters who had surrounded a police station in Sharpeville, killing 69 people.


The Sharpeville protests began over South Africa’s pass laws, which required black South Africans to carry passbooks with them any time they traveled out of their designated home areas. The African National Congress, the leading antiapartheid organization of the era, planned for an antipass campaign to begin March 31, 1960. The Pan Africanist Congress, a more militant offshoot of the A.N.C., organized a campaign that would begin 10 days before the A.N.C.’s.


On March 21, Pan Africanist leaders in Sharpeville assembled a demonstration of 5,000 to 7,000 people, in part through intimidating locals to join. In the morning, they led the protest to the Sharpeville police station, where they demanded to be arrested for not carrying passes. Police reinforcements arrived during the incident. The March 22 New York Times reported: “South African Air Force planes flew over the trouble spot in a show of force. But the Africans ignored all orders to disperse.”

In the afternoon, small scuffles broke out and some demonstrators began throwing rocks at the police. As the crowd moved forward toward one scuffle, the police began firing into the crowd.

The April 3 New York Times published an account by Humphrey Tyler, an assistant editor at Drum magazine who was white, who described the demonstration as peaceful and little threat to the officers’ safety. He wrote: “We heard the chatter of a machine gun, then another, then another. Bodies were falling. Hundreds of children were running. Some of the children were shot, too. Still the shooting went on.”

The shootings sparked protests and riots among black South Africans throughout the country. On March 30, the government declared a state of emergency; it arrested thousands of blacks and outlawed the African National Congress and the Pan Africanist Congress.

The Sharpeville massacre represents a turning point in the history of apartheid. The banning of the two protest groups forced antiapartheid leaders underground and convinced them to end their campaigns of passive, nonviolent resistance in favor of armed struggle.

The Sharpeville massacre also brought international condemnation on South Africa, including a United Nations resolution. An editorial in the
March 22 New York Times asked, “Do the South Africans really think that the rest of the world will ignore such a massacre? Perhaps it takes a horror like the slaughter at Sharpeville to bring home to the white South Africans themselves the evil that the policy of apartheid represents.”

Connect to Today

“A hellhole with a claim on history,” Bill Keller wrote in a">March 1994 New York Times article describing Sharpeville, just before South Africa’s first elections with universal suffrage. In 2010, on the 50th anniversary of the massacre and 16 years after the end of apartheid, Sharpeville residents organized demonstrations to call attention to their continued economic struggles.

The Associated Press reported, “Survivors of the massacre are tired of telling their stories: They are wondering when the change they thought they were fighting for 50 years ago will come to Sharpeville.” Today, though South Africa recognizes March 21 as Human Rights Day and apartheid ended nearly two decades ago, many Sharpeville residents feel neglected by the government they helped vote into power. Why do you think political freedom hasn’t delivered economic freedom for many black South Africans? What do you think it will take for Sharpeville, a symbol of South African struggle, and other poor cities to break out of poverty and despair?


How one photograph changed the world

The black-and-white photo illustrates the brutality of the apartheid regime: young Hector Pieterson carried by a fellow schoolboy after being gunned down by police on June 16 1976 in Soweto. Thirty years on, photographer Sam Nzima remembers the day that was to change the destiny of South Africa, and end his career as a photojournalist.

The black-and-white photo illustrates the brutality of the apartheid regime: young Hector Pieterson carried by a fellow schoolboy after being gunned down by police on June 16 1976 in Soweto.

Thirty years on, photographer Sam Nzima remembers the day that was to change the destiny of South Africa, and end his career as a photojournalist.

“They were all happy. They were carrying placards, not guns,” recounted Nzima, now 71, who lives in the village of Lillydale near the Kruger National Park in north-east South Africa.

Assigned by his newspaper The World to cover the protests, Nzima showed up early in the morning and was in the middle of the students when police opened fire.

“The shooting was just at random,” he said.

Hector Pieterson was struck down by a bullet to the head. A friend picked him up to take him to the hospital.

Nzima snapped six shots from behind the 50mm lense of his Pentax SL. The third shot turned out to be the best.

It showed the lifeless body of Pieterson carried by Mbuyisa Makhubu, his face torn by pain. Pieterson’s sister Antoinette dressed in her school uniform can be seen running alongside.

After taking the pictures, Nzima removed the film from his camera and hid it in his sock. A few hours later, it was splashed on the front page of The World and the next day in British newspapers. The world had discovered the bloody repression of the student uprising. And Nzima discovered police harassment and fear.

Accused of portraying South Africa in a bad light, he was hunted down by police and forced to leave Soweto where he lived with his wife and four children.

He moved to his hometown of Lillydale and opened a bottle store. His photograph was soon after censured and The World shut down, but Nzima was still the target of police harassment.

He was advised against pursuing any subversive activities in the village.

Over time, the police stopped paying attention to Nzima but he never again picked up his camera.

“There were no newspapers here. Take pictures for what ?” he said.

The picture has brought Nzima some fame—he has met former United States president Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela—but little money.

At the end of a long battle, he recovered the rights to the photograph in 1998 but it has been difficult to enforce them.

He is proud of his work and bitter about the lack of recognition from the government.

Nzima has kept his Pentax SL and may one day sell it off in an auction to raise funds for a museum that he hopes to open behind his house. - AFP





VIDEO + AUDIO + INTERVIEW: Lenny White: A Kaleidoscope of Music > The Revivalist

Lenny White:

A Kaleidoscope of Music

Before there was this obsession with jazz and hip-hop, there was a different intersection of music happening on the streets on New York, LA, and other cities around the nation. 24 hours after Jimi Hendrix played his first notes at Woodstock, Miles Davis called his musicians — Lenny White included — into the studio for what would become the ‘Bitches Brew’ sessions and that would be the beginning of a sound and approach to music that White would come to define. The marriage of these rock and jazz aesthetics brought us groups like Return to Forever, Tony Williams’ Lifetime Band, and many more innovative groups and recordings. Read along as we delve into the roots of this style, White’s impact on the history, and where he sees the music going today.


What originally made you want to start playing the drums?

I really don’t know actually. I mean, I wanted to play trumpet originally, but I somehow gravitated towards the drums. That’s where I felt I could make my best expression or impression.

Something that’s not discussed too often is that you were in Jackie McLean’s band early in your career. Tell me about that.

Yeah, I played in various groups around my neighborhood, but the first band I really branched out with into the world of jazz was with Jackie McLean. That band included Woody Shaw, Harold Mayburn, Scotty Holt, Jackie McLean, and myself.

The fact is, Jackie McLean is an iconic saxophone player. Tony Williams had played with Jackie when he was 16 or 17-years-old. Jack DeJohnette played with Jackie McLean. So everybody said, “Okay, now that you’ve played with Jackie you’re going to go play with Miles just like Jack and Tony did.”

Before you played with Miles, were you listening to what Tony Williams was doing with him?

Yeah. I heard the album Seven Steps to Heaven when I was 17 and on that record Tony was 17 when they recorded it. So immediately he became my guy because I was 17 and here was Tony who was four years older than me, but he was relatively my age and he was doing it. He became the model for me to be like and sound like.

What did you hear in his style when he was playing with Miles? He changed up the rhythmic foundation a lot and wasn’t sticking to a straight 4/4-swing type of pattern that was typical for the time period.

Well that’s not completely true. What I saw in Tony Williams was the past, the lineage of what jazz drumming was, and the future, all rolled into one person. It wasn’t like he was doing something that was counter to what everybody else was doing; it was that he had a new perspective on it. He introduced new elements into the playing. At that time period, the avant-garde was in vogue and full-blown on the east coast, especially in New York. Tony was able to take all of that stuff from the avant-garde and combine it with the history of the drum set and jazz drums. That’s what made it very interesting.

When you were developing as a young drummer in New York there were two different schools of drumming between people like Tony Williams and Elvin Jones. What were some of the difference you heard?

The differences are in how they both play. Elvin and Art Blakey were African Kings and their approach to playing was thunderous like Thor. It’s the true, real African approach to playing the instrument. Max Roach and Tony Williams were more cerebral — they were like scientists when it came to playing rhythms and breaking up rhythms. It’s like the Earth and then the Intellect. Tony’s playing was more intellectual; Elvin’s playing was more earthy.

Moving forward to the Bitches Brew recording sessions, tell me about the dynamics of playing with Jack DeJohnette in the band.

I had played with two drummers before. Actually how I got to be in Miles’ band was because I was always playing a gig in Jamaica, Queens with Rashied Ali. Rashied Ali and I were playing together in a band and there was a guy in that band that asked me if Miles had ever heard me play. I said no, so he said he would tell Miles about me. Supposedly he did and that’s how I got a call.

I had no problem playing with two drummers. I have recorded a few albums with two drummers — I’ve recorded with Mike Clark, with Billy Hart. That’s never been an issue for me. My concept was always to make it sound like one guy with eight arms.

In implementing that, what did you have to do to make sure your styles fit together?

Just listen! The drums are a very egotistical instrument. You could overpower everything. I consider myself a musician and so I just tried to make my musical contributions fit with whatever else was going on.

The trend of today is this intersection of jazz and hip-hop, but you were one of the original drummers to solidify this integration of the jazz and rock aesthetics. Who were you listening to outside of jazz music that influenced you?

I listened to Jimi Hendrix — I loved what Buddy Miles had done with him. I listened to John Bonham with Led Zepplin. And I listened to Jabo Starks and Clyde Stubblefield with James Brown. I listened to Cozy Powell. I listened to all kinds of music, man. You can’t really express yourself if you’re musically myopic. You have to listen to everything and then what happens is if you’re sophisticated enough, all of those things that you listened to combine into your style. So I was listening to everything. Depending on how much you listen, you gain this knowledge and ability to speak; you have a big vocabulary. It’s up to you to choose how you express your vocabulary.

You brought this sense of your own style to Return to Forever as well. What led you to join up with Stanley Clarke and Chick Corea?

Stanley and I had played together with Joe Henderson and I had done a recording with Chick in Miles’ band. So they were in Japan with Airto and Flora and they were coming to San Francisco. I was in San Francisco playing with a Latin band called Azteca. Chick asked me to do a week in a trio with Stanley and himself at the Keystone Korner. It was a remarkable week of music and at the end of it Billy Connors and Barry Finnerty — two guitar players from the Bay Area — sat in. So Chick asked me to join the electric Return to Forever, but I was already in San Francisco working with Azteca so I said no. In the interim Ross Valory and Neal Schon called a rehearsal and asked me to be a part of the band Journey. But then Chick called again and I decided to go back to New York and play with Return to Forever. So I never ended up playing with Journey [laughs].

The thing about it is that Return to Forever is a jazz rhythm section. It’s always been a jazz rhythm section and that’s what made our music different than anybody else in the genre because we were jazz musicians. Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter were jazz musicians too, just like John McLaughlin was a jazz musician or Billy Cobham was. But the fact is that Chick, Stanley, and I were a traditional jazz rhythm section. When we approached the music that we played, it was approached from the perspective of a jazz rhythm section. I’m a jazz drummer. No matter what other kind of music I play, that perspective is always from a jazz musician. That’s what made us different.

Tony was the master of that. The first Lifetime band was an organ trio on steroids. It was still an organ trio though. That gave all of us the perspective of how to do this. So that’s what we did. We used that as the model.

In terms of your own style, what do you see as your defining feature as a drummer that differentiated you from everyone else?

Again, my perspective was from a kaleidoscope of different musical genres. When I was coming up, we had to play all kinds of music. We just didn’t play jazz. Jazz was the foundation for everything we played, but we had to play rock stuff, funky stuff, reggae stuff, and everything. Actually, how saxophonist Steve Grossman got into Miles Davis’ band was because I was at Miles’ house one day and I was playing him a cassette of a wedding reception that I did with George Cables on piano, Clint Houston on bass, and Steve Grossman on soprano sax. We were playing James Brown’s “Lickin’ Stick” and that’s how Miles hired him. He said, “Who’s that? Can I have his number?” That’s how he hired him.

Tell me about your Quartet that you’re bringing to the Generations of the BEAT Festival.

I’m following in the true jazz lineage tradition. Just like when I was 16 and Jackie McLean asked me to play, I’m bringing two young musicians to the festival with me. One just turned 17 and the other is almost 17. The piano player is from the Republic of Georgia by the name of Beka Gochiashvili and Darryl Jones is the bass player from New Jersey. Steve Jones is a great drummer and Darryl is his son. Then I’m also going to have Jaleel Shaw who is fantastic on saxophone. I first heard him play with Roy Haynes actually.

What type of music will you be performing?

I might play one or two of my tunes and then we’ll see what happens. The best explanation for jazz I’ve ever heard was when Wayne Shorter said, “When I think of the word jazz, it means ‘I dare you.’” So we’ll see what it will be. We don’t know yet because we haven’t played it.

For any developing drummers, what advice would you give about building a foundation?

First you have to look at the drum set as an instrument and be a musician. What I mean by “be a musician” is again that the drums are a very egotistical instrument in that you can overpower everything. You should not do that. You should learn as many songs as you can, because you need to know the vocabulary and how to play and adapt with the vocabulary. You need to know the music. Be a musician, not just a drummer.

Interview by Eric Sandler (@ericsandler)


VIDEO: Happy Birthday, Sister Rosetta Tharpe: A Legendary 1964 Live Performance by the Godmother of Rock & Roll > Brain Pickings

Happy Birthday,

Sister Rosetta Tharpe:

The Godmother of Rock & Roll

Live in Manchester, 1964


“I’m singing, oh I’m singing in my soul, when the troubles roll, I sing from morn’ till night, it makes my burdens light…”

Sister Rosetta Tharpereconstructionist, gospel music’s first superstar, the godmother of rock and roll, “the original soul sister,” Literary Jukebox hero — was born on this day in 1915. No better way to celebrate her spirit and legacy than with her legendary, electrifying 1964 live performance of “Didn’t It Rain” at the Manchester train station, complete with her iconic white coat and electric guitar.

Sister Rosetta’s remarkable story unfolds like never before in the 2007 biography Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe (public library). It opens with gospel singer Ira Tucker’s perfect depiction of her spirit:

When you talked about Rosetta Tharpe you talked about a ball of energy. This woman would come out on the stage she’d have people laughing, she’d talk to them in a way that it was almost like she was related to them. And when she finished her act, they were standing. You know, they would love this woman. And she was a lovable person. I mean she was an approachable person. Even though she was a diva too, you know, because she did play the diva role.

Also of note and delight, the 2003 tribute album Shout, Sister, Shout!.


PUB: ICFJ Story Contest for Best Coverage of Vaccines (South Africa) > Writers Afrika

ICFJ Story Contest for
Best Coverage of Vaccines
(South Africa)

Journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan and the Gulf States have a chance to win a trip to the United States or cash prizes as part of three regional competitions to recognize the best media coverage of vaccines and immunizations.

Stories published or broadcast in Sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan and the Gulf States between March 15 and May 15, 2013, which includes World Immunization Week (April 24-30), will qualify for the regional contests. The deadline for submitting stories is May 20, 2013.

Each top winner will receive a cash prize and a two-week study tour to the United States.

Entries must relate to diseases that are preventable or treatable with vaccines, such as polio, measles and pneumonia. Possible topics include discovery of new vaccines, testing of vaccines, public attitudes toward vaccination, innovative approaches to delivery of vaccines, or the efficacy or failure of vaccination campaigns.

The program is administered by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) in Washington, D.C., in partnership with the African Health Journalists Association and the Arab Media Forum.

Journalists working in each region for print, broadcast or online media qualify. The contest also is open to affiliated freelance journalists. Submitted work must have appeared in a media outlets based in each region or distributed mainly in the region. Submissions may be made in English, Arabic (Gulf), Urdu (Pakistan), or English, French, Portuguese or Amharic (Africa). Submissions in other languages must include an English translation.


  • Entries may include feature articles, in-depth, investigative or explanatory stories, multimedia reports, documentaries or discussion programs.

  • Stories must be well-researched and well-written or presented, and we encourage stories that use data, mapping and/or citizen voices to support their coverage.

  • We are especially looking for stories that use innovative tools and techniques to engage or reach the public, such as Facebook chats, Twitter feeds, or the use of text messaging to solicit citizen reports on the spread of preventable diseases.

  • Applicants may submit more than one entry.
The deadline for submitting stories for each regional contest is May 20. Winners will be announced on July 1, 2013. Please post stories you enter on Twitter and use the hashtag #vaccinestory.



For queries/ submissions:




PUB: University of Pittsburgh Press Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize > Poets & Writers

University of Pittsburgh Press

Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize

April 30, 2013

Entry Fee: 

E-mail address:

A prize of $5,000 and publication by University of Pittsburgh Press is given annually for a first poetry collection. Poets who have not published a book-length collection of poems may submit a manuscript of 48 to 100 pages with a $25 entry fee between March 1 and April 30. Send an SASE or visit the website for complete guidelines.

University of Pittsburgh Press, Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, Eureka Building, 5th Floor, 3400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.



PUB: The Writer’s Center Emerging Writer Fellowships > Poets & Writers

The Writer’s Center 

Emerging Writer Fellowships

April 12, 2013

E-mail address:

Three fellowships are given annually to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. Fellows who live within a 250-mile radius of the center receive a $250 honorarium each, and others receive $500 each. Fellows also give a reading at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Poets who have published no more than three books and prose writers who have published no more than two books are eligible. Submit up to 10 pages of poetry or 16 pages of prose, a curriculum vitae, and a letter of interest by April 12. There is no entry fee. Send an SASE, call, e-mail, or visit the website for complete guidelines.

The Writer’s Center, Emerging Writer Fellowships, 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD 20815. (301) 654-8664. Laura Spencer, Office Manager.



DANCE + VIDEO: A dance-off with a difference as puppets take on Pantsula troupe in new Diesel+Edun film

It’s Nice That

A dance-off with a difference

as puppets take on

Pantsula troupe

in new Diesel+Edun film

Posted by Rob Alderson, Monday 18 March 2013

You love a dance-off, we love a dance-off, heck everyone in the world loves a dance-off truth be told. But this is a dance-off with a difference and is a fitting launch for the Diesel + Edun Studio Africa project we got all excited about last week.

Pantsula vs Puppets was shot by award-winning director Sean Metelerkamp and features Panstula dance troupe Real Actions going to head-to-head with some madcap marionettes. Shot on location in Soweto, it’s a film that bristles and bursts with exuberance and reflects the vibrant creative scene which Diesel and Edun are so keen to shine a light on with their new collaboration.

Sean said: “I know I can create content that I can twist to satisfy my imagination and put out to the rest of the world” and he said that dressing the dancers in the new collection was key to defining the look and feel of the final piece. “These clothes actually determined the look of the film, because of the dancers, your eyes are focused on the dancers and they’re wearing that clothing, it’s very sharp on the eye. It was actually something new to me that I ended up really enjoying.”

  • Ed6

    Diesel + Edun: Pantsula vs Puppets (still)

  • Ed1

    Diesel + Edun: Pantsula vs Puppets (still)

  • Ed4

    Diesel + Edun: Pantsula vs Puppets (still)

  • Ed3

    Diesel + Edun: Pantsula vs Puppets (still)


SPOKEN WORD + VIDEO + PHOTO ESSAY: Kosal KhievFrom prisoner to poet > ellie dyer



From prisoner to poet


While serving a 16 year prison sentence for attempted murder, Kosal Khiev found redemption in the spoken word. Ellie Dyer meets the budding poet and learns how one of Cambodia’s newest returnees turned his troubled life around. Photography by Dylan Walker.

Kosal Khiev didn’t see sunlight for more than a year after being locked in “the hole”. Branded a danger to society and put in solitary confinement in an American prison after a jail fight, the young Cambodian refugee – serving 16 years for six attempted murders – had seen his life spiral out of control.

Gang violence led the then 21-year-old to his eight foot by three foot cell, in which he would spend 23 hours a day for 18 months.

Born in a Thai refugee camp following his family’s escape from the Khmer Rouge, Kosal moved to the US as a baby in 1981. He grew to be an angry, out-of-control Californian teen torn between two cultural identities. Following an ill-fated stint at a brutal boy’s home, which was later closed down for abuse, a beaten and bruised Kosal turned to a new support network: the gang.

Controlled by a group of older boys and men, one of whom has since been given the death penalty, the gang put Kosal on a path of violence that would lead to his involvement in a shootout while aged just 16. After a two-year fight against a possible life sentence for his part in the violence, Kosal – then known as “Minor” – accepted a plea bargain that would confine him in America’s prison system for his formative adult life.

“I was at the point that I didn’t care. I thought ‘who cares if I live or die’… I was in a state of mind that it was either them or me,” says Kosal, today aged 31, describing his younger self. “I look back on myself then and feel a lot of shame and regret. I could never see myself now taking a life.”

Against all odds, he managed to turn his life around while in jail and has lived in Phnom Penh since his deportation from the US last year – after serving 14 years of his sentence.

It was as his skin paled in “the hole” that Kosal found an interest that would prove his psychological escape and ultimately his redemption: he started to read.

“I remember reading The Three Musketeers and I was laughing my eyes out, then at one point I was angry and threw the book across my cell,” he says. Reading led Kosal to consider why he had ended up in prison, and he realised that there had “always been a choice”.

A chance encounter in a prison laundry room following Kosal’s release from solitary confinement would prove the next turning point. “There were three guys,” he recalls. “I walked by them, but then I heard something – they were spitting poetry.”

Drawn in by their verse, he began to attend poetry classes. An inspired Kosal soon started to write lyrics like a “madman”. From that moment, spoken verse would provide a channel for his feelings and experiences – it became a way for him to just “let it out”.

As his natural gift became recognised within the prison, Kosal was asked to facilitate the writing class. Over the next decade of his sentence, he would go on to work with at-risk teens, showing them a new way to communicate their feelings.

“It was an amazing opportunity, as that’s where I felt I could have an impact. It was as though they were going through what I went through and not being able to express what they were feeling. I wanted others to tell their story,” he says.

Although Kosal has now turned his back on violence, he still bears marks from his past. The words “abandoned” and “tortured” are tattooed on his arms, but the phrase “God bless my family” lies around his neck – seemingly symbolising his transformation. “My family are proud. They seem able to see the change in me. They thought I was lost,” he says.

But Kosal’s release last year marked the beginning of a new kind of sentence.

Rather than a return to family life. He was deported to Cambodia – a country that he had never thought of as a potential home until he watched a feature about the Kingdom on an Oprah show while in prison. It was a moment that made him realise what he faced, in which he “nearly broke down”.

Confronted with the reality of his situation, the eloquent returnee is determined to continue to give youth a voice. While coming to terms with freedom in Cambodia, he is taking life in stride by volunteering with NGOs, taking part in poetry nights and collaborating with arts organisation Studio Revolt to help encourage spoken word poetry.

For Kosal, who says he is now on the right track, encouraging youth to express their feelings is key.

“They don’t have to go the same way and walk the same path [as me]… they can take me as a warning sign,” he says. “It may be dark, it might not feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel – but there is. A lot of my stuff is sad and full of anger, but there is an underlying current of hope.”

To hear Kosal’s work or learn more visit or


The few and far between

By BEP_Admin | Published April 17, 2012

Times are few and far between when I get to shoot portraits of a person I really admire. Even rarer when I have full rein on creativity and lighting the scene. A couple months ago, I had one of those rare chances withKosal Khiev. I first met him on the shoot of My Asian Americana and was moved by his energy and drive. A few weeks later, I had a chance to interview him with Princess Soma Norodom on her nightly radio show at PUC and was once again moved by him and his constant drive to better himself and his art.

We got to talking after and conspired to have a photo session in the near future. These photos are the result of the photo session.

One main element I wanted was an urban feel with the background. So we ended up shooting in an alleyway where I used to live. Another element I wanted in the shot was his ever present notebook which he is constantly writing in. The only problem is that it is quite narrow (about 10 feet wide) and was very busy with foot and motorbike traffic.

Portrait of Kosal Khiev

Portrait of Kosal Khiev

Lighting is a brollied 580ex as the fill light just a bit high and to my right. Two Viv 283′s with stofens are placed about 10 feet to the left and right of Kosal just slightly touching the wall at 45 degree angles. Not the most efficient use of light but it gave a slight rim light to him and it kept them out of the way of passing motorbikes! I wanted to accentuate his tattoos and the wall in the background so there was some manipulation there. I also brightened his brow a bit and turned the tonal contrast just a bit up for the great textures on his face and shirt. In all honesty, I would have liked to have had a reflector to push the light up on his face but sometimes, you make do with what you can.

Kosal Khiev against the wall

Kosal Khiev against the wall

Can I tell you that he is a pretty amazing subject to work with? I moved the Viv 283 on his left side a bit tighter and lower to him, but kept the rest of the  lighting the same but didn’t notice that  I stupidly blew out the words in the notebook. Luckily, I always shoot in RAW so I was able to save the detail in the notebook and it makes for a great dimension to the image.

Portrait of Kosal Khiev

Portrait of Kosal Khiev

A bit of a variation to the image above, the pose makes for a striking image. I wanted to cool down the background on this file and the notebook, so some layer masks later, we got this image!

Kosal and his notebook

Kosal and his notebook

In this image you can see how tight the alleyway is. Not too much room to work with. Once again, there is a brollied 580ex to my right and two Viv 283′s directly onto the walls to his left and right. Usually you use strip lights or a grid to create these lovely rim lights but bouncing off the walls made for a great substitute!

Hope you enjoyed the photos as much as I had taking them!


Images by Vinh Dao


I was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1972 and emigrated to the United States at two years old. After arriving in Seattle, my family spent a few years wandering the United States, until we ended up in Anaheim, California where we lived in the shadow of the Happiest Place on Earth.  In 2003, I packed my bags and left Southern California to pursue my dreams of traveling around Southeast Asia and rediscovering my roots.

After spending 9 years in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I’m now based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. where I specialize in corporate & environmental portraiture, editorial and travel photography. I am available for assignment in and around Vietnam and Cambodia.

In my free time, I enjoy dodging Ho Chi Minh traffic, obsess about the newest gadget on the block, blog about food for VietnomnomNyam Penh,  and shopping for old camera gear.