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  • Hello. Welcome to my blog!

    Please check out our new fine art photography and graphic design business! www.paulandjewel.com

    This blog is no longer active but it is a great chronicle through my initial first few years as a photographer. The blog started while I was at photography school in Massachusetts, covers my time working in Florida and Georgia, and chronicles our recent 6 month adventure working with orphans in Thailand. Thanks for visiting!

Orphanage Photo Class + Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia

 

Life at Baan Unrak Children’s Home in Thailand has been busy as ever. Paul and I have started our Art Photography Class for the teens! I am so excited about it. Thanks to generous camera donations from donars in the U.S. each of our twelve students has their own camera to use. They’re beaming faces and strong desire to learn are incredible. We have class two times a week; one Tuesday evening and one Sunday field day. I think we will be covering the very basics for awhile. The language barriers are rough, but I can’t wait to see their creative vision develop and to share their unique work. Below is a picture from Paul’s phone of some of our students learning about their cameras in the library yesterday evening!

 

 

Since we have been busy with the class I haven’t had a chance to post more photographs from our visa-run to Cambodia. Here are some photographs from a boat trip on the Tonle Sap Lake near Siem Reap, Cambodia. Paul took four of these six images; I’m crazy about the first one! I hope you enjoy these images.

 

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Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Hello! Paul and I have returned to Thailand after two weeks of traveling in Cambodia! We went to Cambodia to renew our Thai visas for another three months. We have been working hard at the Baan Unrak Children’s Home these past few months so it was really nice to have a break and experience another beautiful culture. We traveled by bus and had a lot of ground to cover; we had a few long trips including an unpleasant twenty-five hour bus trip back…yikes! We spent most of our time in Siem Reap and on the amazing, tiny island of Koh Rong. Now we’re back to daily life at the Home of Joy and happy to be here with our friends again. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and I hope that your New Year will be full of love, joy and many new experiences!

Below are our photographs from three full days spent exploring the Angkor Wat Archeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Seeing the massive temple complexes was awe-inspiring. Angkor Wat is where Tomb Raider was filmed and the main temple is the largest in the world. My favorite temples were the small, remote Wats where the jungle completely overflows into the stonework. We met a lovely gentleman, Ny Yuth while we were there. He was our tuk tuk driver for three days, taught us about the Khmer culture and became our friend. If any of you travel to Cambodia make sure to contact him. I hope you enjoy these images!

 

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The Half-way Point – Our Thailand Home

I can’t believe we’re almost at our half-way point. Paul and I have been working in Thailand just short of three months! Three more months to go.

Most days we absolutely love our simple life here. Most days we laugh endlessly with the amazing children of the Baan Unrak Home. Some days we’re terribly home-sick and occasionally we’re just plain sick. Every day comes with its own challenges. But we are so happy to be here. We are so happy these children have nestled deep into our hearts.

Now its time to leave the country and renew our Thai visas for another three months. We’re headed to Cambodia by bus and will be taking a couple of weeks to travel, have adventures and refresh ourselves! I have to admit, we’re ready for a break. I look forward to sharing photographs of Cambodia and Baan Unrak when we return to our little Thailand home. Love and Peace! – Jewel Maree

 

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Loi Krathong – Our Thailand Home

 

Loi Krathong was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

The holiday is celebrated each November during the full moon. It is a time to let go of the year’s grudges and start anew. It seemed like each family in the village made or bought their own Krathong, the small lotus shaped boat (Paul and I had one too). Candles, incense, coins and offerings are placed on the Krathongs as a homage to the Goddess of the Water. It is generally believed that floating the Krathongs far out into the lake brings luck and purifies the water. Our photos do not do justice to the beauty of the tradition, but I hope they will transport you for a moment to our small village of Sangkla during the full moon.

 

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Boys in Black and White – Our Thailand Home

These kids break my heart, make me smile, and fill me with laughter every day. I took these portraits in and around the newly completed Boy’s House at Baan Unrak. I have written descriptions based on what I have learned from these boys in the past month here. The new house is somewhat bare at the moment and they are collecting funds to fill each new room with beds for the boys. Paul and I are doing well and loving every second getting to know the amazing boys and girls here. I hope you enjoy this post and that it brings a smile to your face. Love and peace!

 

Monkila

You can’t help but laugh when 8-year-old Monkila laughs, or smile when his eyes light up. He is eager to please; he loves high fives and hugs. He has cerebral palsy, so he still attends the nursery school. His body is weak and he struggles with a range of intense emotions that change very quickly, but like all of the children here, he has admirable strength. Monkila bakes delicious cookies at The Bakery once a week with a volunteer.

Krishna

Krishna is a calm, quiet, unstoppable 4-year-old. He is a mixture of a monkey and an athlete on the playground. He rarely cries or fusses. When you look at Krishna, you may focus on his handsome eyes, round cheeks and sweet expression, never even noticing his cleft lip.

Ahong

Ahong is a lively and bright 9-year-old; his English skills are extraordinary. He is so intelligent and mature that he often seems like more of an adult than a child (until you see him wildly running and giggling). Ahong has a soft spot for affection and animals. He will proudly show off the dogs and newest kittens at the Home to anyone interested.

Samuella

Samuella is a ball of untamed 8-year-old energy. Independent and self-sufficient, he’s a real boy’s boy. He is too small for most bicycles but will go on a ride any chance he gets. He is passionate about marbles and scary jungle creatures.

Tenyasoo

This little guy is full of wild energy and easy smiles. With one bat of his eyelashes, he will convince you to spin him ’round and ’round and hug him tight for hours. He is 5-years-old but extremely small for his age. Aside from a protrusion on his chest, you would never guess that he had open-heart surgery when he was 2.

Paul and Tenyasoo

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Wat Temple – Our Thailand Home

When we say that our new village is gorgeous, we really mean it. Sangkla is surrounded by the waters of a large lake with lush mountainous jungle in every direction. There are also three temples within walking distance of where we live and work. The temple pictured below is one on the opposite side of the lake from us, across the longest wooden bridge in Thailand. We’ve walked to the temples a few times on our days off from Baan Unrak and the kids bike there every weekend with Paul.

Every day is different here, but now that the children are done with their October break and back in school we’re settling into more of a routine with our various tasks. I miss hanging out with the kiddos all day everyday, though its nice not to be as exhausted. My birthday was on Friday and Paul completely spoiled me. My favorite part was renting a canoe (going back to our roots), exploring a sunken temple, and watching the sun set from the middle of the lake; amazing. We didn’t bring the cameras, but I might post some iphone pictures later on.

 

 

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PUPPIES! – Our Thailand Home

There are dogs everywhere in our village of Sangkla’. Dogs crowd the streets in much of Thailand but Sangkla’ is notorious for high populations. There isn’t a village vet so the population is constantly increasing and struggling. Most of the dogs are friendly, some aren’t, many don’t have homes or are treated very poorly. Its really sad to see all of the abuse and neglect, especially coming from a culture where we generally see dogs as best buds.

One of the great projects at Baan Unrak is an Animal Sanctuary, and the Children’s Home itself cares for several (very patient and well loved) dogs. There were a few puppies born at the Home recently and we couldn’t resist stealing some cuddles and photos with Fairy yesterday. It made my day infinitely better. I hope these make you smile!

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Portrait Making and Yoga – Our Thailand Home

Hello! Everyday we are learning and adjusting to our simple life in Thailand. Its full of blessings, bugs, heat, and cuteness. Yesterday was wonderful! I took a break from office work and ended up spending all day hanging out with the kids and photographing them. Sharing cuddles and giggles and jokes with these kids fills me with so much happy energy.

When I first imagined doing more formal portraits of the kids here, I pictured one child at a time coming into a quiet room all set up with chairs, a tripod and a reflector to be photographed. What a silly thought! Quiet and organization are completely foreign things here. I ended up just sitting on the ground in a hallway with children running and screaming all around me, some climbing on me, while I created impromptu Portraits of kids with the orange wall as a backdrop (like 2 of the photos from this post). Paul admired my patience, but I wasn’t struggling to be patient. I was loving every second of it. The kids seemed to love it too! Some were shy at first but they all hammed it up and loved to see their pictures on the back of the camera afterward. I would let them do a silly photo and then a slightly more serious one, all the while telling them how beautiful or handsome they are. It makes me so sad to see that many of the kids don’t believe they’re beautiful, inside and out, and I hope to tell them and show them enough that they start to believe me just a little bit. I felt like I was doing what I am meant to do, making kiddos giggle while documenting and reaffirming beauty. I hope to capture at least one beautiful Portrait of each of the 140 children while I’m here. I can’t wait to share them all! For now, here is a photo that Paul took on his phone of the Portrait process.

 

I also watched a Yoga Performance practice yesterday and grabbed a few photos. Some of the kids are really dedicated and have traveled all through Asia doing yoga performances! It was really fun to watch, though I think my presence may have made them a little nervous and extra giggly.

One little girl who is about 10 years old, Ganda, came and sat with me while I watched the practice. I let her (super carefully) borrow my camera and these last two photos are hers! Pretty fantastic, huh!? She looked so tiny with the big camera in her hands. At first she was snapping away like crazy but when I explained to her that a photographer must be patient and wait for the perfect moment, she seemed to get it. It made me so excited for the donated cameras to come in and to get the photo class started! Will post again soon. Love and peace.

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