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  • rachelmorrisdesign


Updated: May 28, 2020

I take so many photos. Literally thousands. So many little moments in time captured. Not all of them fit into the stories I’ve wanted to tell on the blog so far but there are a few photos that I’ve taken that stand out to me. Some because of the photo itself and some because of moments they represent. Some are just a visual that left a lasting impression. Some have full stories behind them. The big adventures are great but I always think it's the little things that make life interesting so here are a few of those images and stories.


‘Voluntourism’ is a dirty word. It makes me think of people out to save the world without thinking about the reality of what they are doing or the possible negative impact they might be having. On the other side of that, I fully support cultural exchange and lending a hand to an existing, established, and locally run projects when asked. There are grey areas here too and most things could be argued for either side but when a friend asked if I could help build a website and do some photography for a local school group, I was happy to get involved.

The first shoot days were at the primary school with the younger kids. They were really unsure of the whole situation at the beginning. Luckily, I’m fine with embarrassing myself to get a laugh so I won some of them over enough to get some good shots.

One of the major points of Silverleaf is its use of technology and games to help the kids learn more effectively. These two little girls were sharing a tablet game and it was so cute to see them smiling and giggling as they played.

I shared the responsibility with another photographer. I happened to catch him in a moment while he was resetting and one of the students was looking on curiously. He was shy and never asked about the camera or if he could try. Hopefully he will one day.

The older kids were more excited about the camera. Catching them at recess also helped with extra energy. Some of the girls especially loved having their photos taken, striking poses and giving some serious attitude. They were hilarious.


I met Mi a few days before I took this photo, on a boat tour of the islands around Ao Nang. He had a day off and was hanging out with some friends at the front of the boat. I was at the back of the boat, sitting by myself, wedged between a bunch of tourist couples. The front of the boat seemed much better than the back. It took me a few stops on the tour to eventually make my way to the front of the boat and introduce myself. They were as cool as I assumed from my previous vantage point and also super friendly and welcoming. I spent the rest of the afternoon with Mi and his friends, eating BBQ on the beach and following them on their free climbing adventures. They were all rock climbing instructors in the area. It was a job but also a hobby. They climbed up every available surface. I followed where I could. I ended up with a few blood blisters on my hands and feet where the sharp rocks dug in. But I was having fun so I pushed through when the jagged bits threatened to shred my uncalloused, city hands.

A few days later, I showed up to the rock climbing tour I’d booked and found Mi sitting in the gear shop. He was the one taking our group up the rock face on the beach. I’d only been climbing a couple times before this and definitely not any time recently. I also always think I’m in better shape than I am but with encouragement from Mi from his place as my anchor on the beach, I climbed up quite a bit further than I thought I could. I’d tell him I was ready to come down. Then he’d shake his head and yell “Go up or go home!” So up I went. I tried to quit twice more before he finally let me down and I’m glad he pushed me. The view over the sea from that height up was stunning.

Once I got down and my arms and hands finally stopped shaking from clinging to the side of the rock, I snapped a few photos of the beach and this one of Mi smirking at someone else who was just as new at climbing as me.


People watching is one of my favourite pastimes. We do all sorts of funny things when we think no one is watching. We also do all sorts of funny things even if we know they are. I used to get annoyed by the constant instagram photoshoots I came across. I still do when they are disruptive or disrespectful to places or people around but after watching so many of them, I’ve started to look at them a little differently. There is some positivity in them, camaraderie and trust built into the interaction and in some cases, a good amount of team work.

Heading out for another swim, I noticed this group of friends as I waded past into the water. Usually it’s a one to one ratio, photographer to model. This little photo shoot was much more involved. One guy risking his phone in the water, flanked by three friends splashing water into the shot from the sides and the one guy actually getting his photo taken. I have no idea what the final photo looked like but I couldn’t help but smile as they laughed and tried one shot after another. Hopefully they got a good one.


I’ve noticed a theme in some of my favourite photos - reflections. I like them. I photograph them if I see them, no matter what they are. On this day, is was the sky reflecting on a thin layer of water over the sand.

I’d spent most of the morning driving around the west coast of Bali, not going anywhere in particular. Eventually driving down a side road, I ended up on an almost empty beach. The only other person on the huge expanse of beach was an old woman cutting up a pile of coconuts. Once I passed her a little way down the beach, there was no other sound than the waves rolling in. I got there at low tide so the waves were breaking pretty far from the shoreline where I walked. It didn’t look like the other beaches I’d been spending my days on. The sand was much darker here and even though the water was low, there was about 100 ft of beach that was so shallow, the water barely covered my toes. The waves would break on a sandbar far from the shore, then the ripple would roll in, breaking the calm glass-like water closer to where I stood. This photo really isn’t of much but I like the reflection and the memory of perfect calm that day, alone on the beach.


Tour groups are filled with endless shopping opportunities. After a day of exploring Luxor, we stopped at a small shop that specialized in handmade scarves, blankets and clothing. If I bought all of the blankets and pieces of weaving I’ve loved along the way, I would have to trade in my backpack for a small shipping container. To avoid temptation in the shop, I toured through the workshop area instead. Three women were working, each tucked away behind looms much bigger than themselves. This woman and her bright, red head scarf stood out.


Bangkok is everything and anything all at once. In this particular case, past and present. When visiting a new city, Atlas Obscura is one of my regular research stops. It's a website that lists all the quirky and slightly odd things to do in any given place. One of the places listed was Nightingale-Olympic department store. A department store lost in time, or stuck somewhere in the early 70’s anyway. While it is a fully operational store, a lot of the stock, manequins and even staff looked like they were original from when the store first opened. The second floor was filled mainly with musical instruments and gym equipment mixed with other random assortments of home decor. This shot captured my favourite corner of this funny little time capsule in the heart if the city.


I often look back on situations and laugh at how random the progressions of some of my days have been. On this day, morning coffee turned into evening tattoos. A I sat in a little roadside cafe with a friend, chatting and watching the scooters and surfboards go by, the seat next to us was taken by a man with a piece of plastic wrap clinging to his ribs. Under the plastic wrap was a very new tattoo, simple and perfectly executed fine lines of type in a language I didn’t understand. My friend and I were both immediately interested. We’d both had ideas for tattoos and the line work on the piece we were looking at was good enough that we finished our coffee and walked across the street to find the artist who had done it. We found him in what kind of felt like a treehouse, just no tree, complete with tattoo shop setup and hammocks. Some people have life figured out. The artist only worked a few hours a day in the evening so we booked our appointments and came back later for my friend’s tattoo that day and mine a few days later after I finished up my surf lessons. These photos were taken while he was tattooing a tiny paper plane travelling around her ankle.

Until next time.

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