Kenneth and Conner swapped jersey game at Kyambogo was a hit Right to Play came to lead some games Trevor always plays hard I finally got to meet Kid Ivan just sparks when he plays I had to say good bye to my friend Edgar Time to leave Coach Dean gave his last encouragements Jay and Ruth. It all started with them

Jan 21st was our last day in Uganda. So very quickly the trip was coming to an end. Although I had been exhausted from photographing during the day and editing/filing the images at night, my spirit could not help but pick up when I see the kids. They have so much joy on their faces, especially when they play. On this last day we played at Kyambogo, Ivan’s home turf. It felt like a picnic and party. Tents and BBQ were set up by the field. There was music blaring. Right to Play came to lead some games for all the kids. Of course by today the kids were best friends. They sat together, fooled around, played some really good baseball, and finally, it was time to say good bye. There was a little bit of tears ( mostly the adults… ), but if I had to describe it in one word, I think without a doubt it’s “hope”. The kids are going to be just fine, and I am excited for them for their bright future. Baseball is not the magic bullet to solve all the problems. Nothings is. But through baseball, I see enormous strength and wisdom in these kids. Uganda, Canada, the world. We are in good hands if we create more experiences like this for our future generation. Our kids don’t need us to hold their hands.  They just need the opportunity to go out and play. They are more than capable of figuring things out on their own. More often than not, there are many things we can learn from them. Thank you guys for allowing me the opportunity to be part of this amazing journey. I am very fortunate to be inspired by you all. The sincerity, curiosity, and joy. I am learning, but I hope one day I will be like you guys, always running at full speed with so much joy.

This is the end of my diary for my Uganda trip. Sportsnet also came along to Uganda to make a wonderful TV documentary. It’s airing this Sunday  on Sportsnet at 2pm PST and 5PM EST. Here is a link to the preview: http://righttoplay.akaraisin.com/YouthBaseball. If you are inspired by these kids, please consider donating to Right to Play. 

Sportsnet Magazine is also running an iPad special on this story this month with my photo essay. Here is the link to purchase the magazine on iTunes. 

As part of the Pearl of Africa Baseball Series, the Canadian and the Ugandan teams travel together to a couple of other cities in Uganda to put on baseball clinics and play with the local team. On day 7 of our trip we went to Jinja, the lush and beautiful town known as the origin of the Nile River. It was pretty awe inspiring looking at the river and thinking that spot is probably the beginning of human civilization.. or specie. Pretty powerful stuff.

In Jinja we played with this very good local team coached by a Japanese volunteer Couji-san. Jimmy Rollins also still traveled all the way with us to Jinja. I don’t know if any of the local kids recognized him, but to me it spoke volume of Jimmy’s character when he took the time to approach the local kids and shared his baseball knowledge.

Also I think for a lot of us it was the first time we hear a timeout called by the umpire because a motorcycle was racing through the centre field. After a few friendly innings, the Canadian parents treated everyone with a peanut butter jelly sandwich picnic lunch. I got a kick out of looking at the amazing sandwich assembly line the parents put together. With their teenage sons I am sure they have had plenty of practice.

In all it was another great day filled with baseball, friendship, and laughter. Our time in Uganda was almost coming to an end. We leave Uganda the next day, but we still had one more game to go. I didn’t want it to end.

After the big game between Uganda and Canada, we went on a road trip to Lyantonde, about 200km south west of Kampala. It took us about 4-5 hours to travel that distance on the bumpy dirt roads in our little buses. The scenery was lush and beautiful, but everybody was exhausted from the game earlier that day. I gotta say our Canadian kids are troopers. The hot weather isn’t something they are used to, but never once did I hear any complaints. 

Once we got to Lyantonde, our first stop was Salama Shield, a NGO that focuses on alleviating health and poverty related challenges. I was absolutely exhausted, but my spirit got a big boost when I heard the beautiful songs and drum beats coming from the music group at Salama Shield. There was also a basketball court nearby. Jason the documentary cameraman and I couldn’t resist the idea of a tall lanky white dude and a short stubby asian dude playing street ball in Uganda, so we joined in for a pickup game with the local kids. That’s where I lost a piece of skin on my eyebrow… I think. I now have a big scar on my eyebrow, but it’s all good. I’d like to think it’s a permanent gift from Africa. 

I was really overwhelmed by the hospitality at Salama Shield. I know they don’t have much, but they still put on a big meal for us. While we ate, the drummers, dancers, and singers performed for us. I don’t know how other people could sit still. I couldn’t at all. I had to join in the dance. I am pretty sure I made a fool of myself, but the way I look at it, a little bit of entertainment from me was the least I could do to show them how much I appreciated the hospitality. 

After the dinner I got to sit down outside in the warm breeze with some local kids for a nice conversation and a private lesson in Ugandan. Jabaleko Thank you for your work. Nsanuse Kukoo la va I am very happy to see you. oli mu qua no quan ge You are my friend. 

These were exactly the words I wanted to say to the people at Salama Shield. Thank you for having us, my friends. I appreciate your hospitality, but most of all I appreciate the hard work you guys put in long term to help making a difference in Uganda. Jabaleko. 

I am back from Uganda! Still quite a few photos and stories to blog about from the last 3 days of our trip. But meanwhile, here is a portrait I find interesting. This is not baseball. This gentleman is the score keeper for the cricket game going on next to our baseball field. I just love the look of that score board.

I am back from Uganda! Still quite a few photos and stories to blog about from the last 3 days of our trip. But meanwhile, here is a portrait I find interesting. This is not baseball. This gentleman is the score keeper for the cricket game going on next to our baseball field. I just love the look of that score board.

Today is an off day from baseball. I went to visit Makerere school with Right to Play, the film crews, and Derrek Lee. Right to Play educates children through sports and play. In today’s case, they partnered up with the local school to teach kids important health issues. 

I gotta give Derrek Lee some credit. He has been so kind and unassuming. I can tell he really wants to do his part to help.

The children are all so beautiful. I had lots of fun jumping around and dancing with them. They love having their pictures taken, and love to look at themselves on the back of the camera even more. Everywhere I went there were sweet little hands wanting to hold mine. The Ugandan children I have met are all so jolly. They don’t have much, but they are all so positive. I have a lot to learn from them.

Canada & Uganda meet for the first time On the way to Mpigi Instant connections are made Team Uganda Greagg Zaun conducting a practice Really appreciate Gregg for coming out Practice game kids mix with one another right away Snopp Doggy Dog. Instant friends

It was a moment I will always remeber. 

The Ugandan kids jogging up the dirt road. The Canadian kids lined up in anticipation. Big sports moments always give me chills, but nothing could compare to this. The kids were shy to begin with, but as soon as they shook hands, I know they must feel the connection among one another. There was mutual appreciation and respect for the fellow players. For a moment I had to step back a bit from taking pictures to soak this all in.  I know it’s only day 2 of the trip, but I have been so inspired by everyone here I know I am coming back again soon. Thank you baseball. Thank you kids. You have given me a new perspective on life.

If you are inspired by these children, please consider donating to Right to Play: http://righttoplay.akaraisin.com/YouthBaseball

A Baseball Journey we call Taiwan

Tumblr only allows for 10 images per story. To see the full story, please go to my Behance page: http://bit.ly/y5HoNB

What is Taiwanese? Who is Taiwanese? 

Simple questions, but ones that have been debated by generations of people in Taiwan. Inhibited by indigenous people since over 8000 years ago, nations have come to Taiwan to take advantage of this bountiful island. From the Dutch and Spanish colonies, to the mass Han immigration, to the Japanese rule, and to the current Republic of China occupation, Taiwanese have not been able to simply call this beautiful mother island as our own. Many are hesitant to call Taiwan as is: a sovereign country that is under massive pressure internally and externally against its self determination. 

I am not a historian or political scientist. With this photo essay, all I am trying to do is answer the questions for myself. What is the Taiwanese spirit? To me, baseball sums it up. As a boy growing up in Taiwan in the 80’s and 90’s, the international success of Taiwanese Little League baseball teams is part of the collective memory I share with many others. During a time when Taiwan was being increasingly isolated by the international community, with growing pressure from China, baseball was one thing we could hold on to and call it as our own. 

I had the fortune to spend time with the Taiwanese national baseball team when they visited Canada for the World Baseball Challenge in July 2010. I was able to travel with the team for a big part of the tournament. The experience gave me an opportunity to see just how closely baseball is intertwined with what Taiwanese spirit is. It is reflected on and off the baseball field. From the mannerism the players carry off the field with their teammates, to the resourcefulness of the training staff with their limited supply, to the respect they pay to the opponents, and finally to their style of play on the field, I felt like I was seeing the history of Taiwan summed up in the game of baseball.

Taiwan picked up baseball when it was a Japanese colony from the late 1800’s to the 1940‘s. Today, Taiwanese baseball is a delicate blend of Japanese influences with Taiwan’s own characteristics. The Japanese concept of Senpai - a reciprocal seniority based mentoring relationship - is a guiding principle for the team. The older players are dedicated to passing on their skills and the knowledge of the game to the younger players, through their interactions on and off the field. The harmony of the team is valued above anything else. Acts like throwing helmets and breaking bats never happen in the dugout. They players have too much respect for their teammates to potentially affect them. 

On the field, Taiwan plays quite an aggressive style of speed and power. To me it always seems the players play with the ambition and energy as if their backs were against the wall, very much like the underdog small island Taiwan is. Gritty and gutsy plays, strong work ethics, and the never say die attitude, are big reasons why the team still has international success when the players are often physically disadvantaged and have little support for their baseball careers. In many ways, it is a reflection of the hard working attitude most Taiwanese people I know have. Despite of the challenges, we eventually always find a way to survive.

Perhaps I am too sentimental about baseball and Taiwan, but in writing this piece just days away from the upcoming Taiwanese presidential election, I can’t help but feeling inspired by what the future may hold for Taiwan. In a way, baseball and Taiwan have come full circle together. Baseball is the neutering mother island. On this team, we have the aborigines, the ethnic Hans, the US and Japanese expats - all different groups of True Taiwanese - working together towards a common goal. We have the upmost respect for each other, even though there are many differences among us. Much bigger and stronger opponents are out there, but as long as we stay with each other as a team, we can always figure out a way to break through and survive. Just like Taiwan always has.

Long time no post! Christmas came and I was finally able to rest a bit. December has been an exciting month at HKP. We shot for Pan Pacific Whistler, BBDO Toronto/Shaw Cable, and Report on Business Magazine. 3 totally different shoots, but totally fun! I am proud to say we shot both motion and still for Pan Pacific and Shaw. I am stoked to be finally integrating motion to my still shoots. It’s gonna be really exciting from now on as we keep finding ways to utilize the 2 tools together. I am having a blast so far.
Here is an image shot earlier this year at Lake Louise. Quite a bit of a whiteout but we added some interest with the strobe/flare. My fearless assistant Jay held a Profoto strobe up high from the lift chair behind the models. I twisted myself around from the lift chair in front of the models. The whole time the awesome art director John from Karo Design was on the radio directing the models. This image didn’t make the final select, but it was a lot of fun to shoot!

Long time no post! Christmas came and I was finally able to rest a bit. December has been an exciting month at HKP. We shot for Pan Pacific Whistler, BBDO Toronto/Shaw Cable, and Report on Business Magazine. 3 totally different shoots, but totally fun! I am proud to say we shot both motion and still for Pan Pacific and Shaw. I am stoked to be finally integrating motion to my still shoots. It’s gonna be really exciting from now on as we keep finding ways to utilize the 2 tools together. I am having a blast so far.

Here is an image shot earlier this year at Lake Louise. Quite a bit of a whiteout but we added some interest with the strobe/flare. My fearless assistant Jay held a Profoto strobe up high from the lift chair behind the models. I twisted myself around from the lift chair in front of the models. The whole time the awesome art director John from Karo Design was on the radio directing the models. This image didn’t make the final select, but it was a lot of fun to shoot!

Here are some more winter shots from the campaign I shot for Travel Alberta earlier this year. If snow looks awesome in the photos, that’s because it is! Lots and lots of dry power snow in the mountains of Alberta. I can’t wait to go back this winter to hit the slopes properly. Last time we were out there we only had the chance to make one run after we wrapped the day… but I ended up carrying my 40lb camera bag because I wanted my assistant to enjoy the ride after a long day.

There are more! I just need some time to go through them again. I think I have been showing about 1% of the stuff I shoot…

Talking about snow, tomorrow we head to Whistler to shoot for an awesome hotel client. Still not gonna be able to hit the slopes this time, but hey staying inside a cozy fancy hotel sounds pretty good to me, too.

It’s finally online! Here are a few screen grabs from Travel Alberta’s new site http://www.remembertobreathe.com. Working with talented Art Director John Halliday from Karo Design, I shot some of the still images for their winter campaign. It was an absolutely amazing experience. This winter I am definitely going back to Alberta to snowboard. Seriously the best powder I have ever seen anywhere.