Photos and Stories in Progress

Two from Takeo

Written by on September 9, 2011 in Photo Posts, Photos and Stories in Progress with 0 Comments

I would love to chronicle a year of rural village life, tracing the lives of people through the seasons and rituals. But I live in Phnom Penh, and there is no end to what I can do here. I took these last week in Takeo. The villagers were planting rice, because the rains have finally settled in. Cows wander free during the dry season, but now they must be kept away from the freshly planted rice.

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Working at the Russian Market

Written by on August 15, 2011 in Photo Posts, Photos and Stories in Progress with 1 Comment

Workers building a new shop in the market pause for lunch

I’m continuing to photograph people and life inside the Russian Market (Psar Tuol Tom Pong). I hope to finish work by November, and we’ll see what comes next.

So far I’ve enjoyed the project. Every time I enter the market I get to practice speaking Khmer and meet new people, most of whom are friendly and enjoy having their pictures taken. This week I’m taking steps to make it official: writing a letter to the governor of Phnom Penh asking permission. I learned that I need permission if I’m not “taking tourist pictures.”

Preparing a fresh duck

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More photos for a Sovanna Phum story

Written by on July 25, 2011 in Photo Posts, Photos and Stories in Progress with 0 Comments

Sovanna Phum had Apsara dancers last night, so we all went to see. Sovanna Phum runs on a tight budget. They often have other kinds of contemporary and traditional dancers, but they only rarely have Apsara. Apsara dancers require intricate costumes and extensive training, so naturally they cost more. Backstage two or three young men, plus other performers, helped the dancers get dressed. Parts of their costumes had to be sewn on. Here are a few photographs. I’m starting to hold back the best photographs as I think about when and how to show them for the first time.  On a side note, I’m really enjoying getting to know the people at Sovanna Phum. I was able to help them get their website updated and teach them how to do it themselves. I’m looking forward to learning and telling some of the stories behind the scenes.

After the show the headgear is put in plastic and everything goes back into a metal chest


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Justees, a photo story in process

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

[portfolio_slideshow pagerstyle=numbers]

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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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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