Photo Posts

Justees, a photo story in process

Written by on April 29, 2011 in Photo Posts, Photos and Stories in Progress with 2 Comments

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Justees is an income generation project located in a Phnom Penh slum.  That’s a short hand description anyway. The kids at Justees have all been on the streets struggling with addiction to sniffing glue, but now they’re in the final phase of a recovery program that boasts a 99 percent success rate. Most started using glue due to the pain and hopelessness in the lives at home, and they worked hard to recover when those issues were addressed. The next step for them is vocational training and getting a foothold in life.  Justees employs them, teaches them crucial skills, and pays enough to keep them in school. The project is run by Servants, a Christian organization from New Zealand, whose members are known for immersing themselves in the slums and working side-by-side with the poor. The two men who started Justees may seem irrelevant in the eyes of a world bent on power and real evidence of significance. One is a practicing medical doctor, yet every Monday he is side-by-side with the guys printing t-shirts.  I’d love to develop this more — adding text and possibly documentary video, so I’m looking for opportunities to publish and …

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Working in the Russian Market in Phnom Penh

Written by on April 26, 2011 in Photo Posts, Photos and Stories in Progress with 0 Comments

Ladies at the Russian Market (2008)

I went to the Russian Market today to start work on a long term photo story. I know LOTS of people have taken pictures there, but I’ve never seen any substantive body of work to tell the story of the place. That’s what I’d like to do.

I brought a photograph that I took almost three years ago (see above). It wasn’t hard to find the shop, and though I didn’t recognize the woman behind the counter, she recognized herself in the picture immediately. That was exciting! Other vendors came, they rounded up another one of the ladies pictured, and they all talked about what has changed, and pointed out several things that haven’t. I told her my intention to visit the market regularly, and she seemed very supportive, as was everyone else I talked with. I spent more time talking than using the camera, which suited me fine. I have time for that later. It was great just practicing Khmer and starting to build the relationships I’ll need to do this story well.

This is the woman in the middle of the picture above. She started to give me a lesson in Khmer …

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Maika, hearts and angst

Written by on April 26, 2011 in My Family Photos, Photo Posts with 0 Comments

Maika, hearts and angst

My daughters have a flair for drama. They all disappeared upstairs one day and came down in fantastic outfits and covered with face paint.

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Sovanna Phum, photo story in process

Written by on April 22, 2011 in Photo Posts, Photos and Stories in Progress with 0 Comments

This is just a taste of a story I hope to complete this year (2011). It’s about more than colorful performances, but that’s part of it. I hope to portray the community of people who make up Sovanna Phum: their art, their energy, and their real lives. I want to see how they relate with Phnom Penh and how they stand apart from the city. I think it’s going to be a very interesting journey. I have quite a few hopes for this story as it develops  (publication, exhibitions, etc.). Mostly I’m just thinking about what it will take to get it done well.

Before the show

Laughter backstage as the drum troupe gets dressed and ready

A dancer waits for her cue

Shadow puppets behind the screen

A drama unfolds

Monkey dancers provide comic relief

The audience (a small one this night) reacts to the monkey dancers

Shadows of actors and puppets in conflict

Holding candles behind the screen creates beauty and tension onstage

An actor/dancer makes a quick costume and make-up change

Nearing the climax during a performance of Roussey Dek, a beautiful mixed piece

Shadow puppets battle behind the screen

Not to be taken too seriously, a …

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Shadow puppets at Sovanna Phum, photo story in process

Written by on April 20, 2011 in Photo Posts, Photos and Stories in Progress with 1 Comment

For many years, Sovanna Phum has been preserving and extending the traditional arts of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. Sovanna Phum. Shadow puppetry is a mainstay of Sovanna Phum, along with classical dance, drums, music, and sometimes a circus troupe. The shadow puppets and drums are made by hand on site. Even the tools used to craft them are made there over a charcoal powered blaze. Recently the association started a project to renew their stock of large shadow puppets, and I am following the story–along with photographing the weekend performances and the lives of the traditional artists.

I started working on a larger story about Sovanna Phum early this year (2011). There are many potential behind the scenes stories and angles: the Sovanna Phum Association and its hard work and history, the making of shadow puppets (and drums), the colors and vitality of traditional arts in Phnom Penh, the real lives and struggles of the artists themselves (including more than one art families), and Phnom Penh as a city yearning to reemerge as a cultural center in Asia again.

I’d love to get some of these stories published and exhibited in different venues.

Here are a few photographs of shadow …

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School of survival, photo story in process

Written by on April 17, 2011 in Photo Posts, Photos and Stories in Progress with 0 Comments

I started working on this story last month (Feb, 2011). I’d love to finish it well and get it published. It’s a behind the scenes story (with individual stories) of hard work and hope we can all relate to but few ever see this way.

Cambodians are streaming into Phnom Penh every day looking for a new start in the big city. Young people come to attend universities and vocational school. They all have dreams that begin with finding a way to make money.  This story is about a vocational school that trains students how to repair cars and  motorcycles. Two or three hundred students are crammed inside at any given time. They range from young kids straight off the farm to well-worn men in their forties. Each can graduate with a certificate as soon as they master the material and pass the tests. They pay a relatively low one time fee that’s good for as long as they want to stay. Most live upstairs free of charge, cooking and caring for themselves: no alcohol is permitted and the doors are locked every night at 7pm. Many vocational schools in Phnom Penh are scams; they prey on people from the …

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