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A day in the life ... of a photojournalist

A day with Heng Chivoan, by Cheng Lita
The quality of your day often depends on your profession. How about, a day in life of a photo-journalist? I got to spend a day with one of the best in Cambodia the Phnom Penh Post’s  Heng Chivoan.

On a Thursday morning I met up with Chivoan and immediately noticed he had two cameras strapped to him. One was a Cannon EOS SD Mark II and the other one is Cannon EOS 40D. They are Photographer’s cameras, for sure.

Oftentimes in the afternoon Chivoan shoots, standalones, which don’t go with a story, and therefore he has the freedom to shoot whatever he wants, as long as it looks good.

This afternoon, he went to Buding building. The building was very silent. On the way, I was wondering what he could possibly shoot in that building, and indeed, as he walked around he decided there was nothing to see, or shoot.   “I can’t even get one photo here.” Just then, he was silent, not talking to me anymore. He was shooting already and I hadn’t even noticed what was happening in front of our eyes. He is quick when an opportunity arises.

While he was shooting, his phone rang and he said he had to go shoot a house fire near Phsa Doeum Thkow. We got back to the office too late, but it was pretty exciting to imagine how that would have gone.

I picked up a few pieces of advice: “When we want to capture human as the object, we have to build relationship around the object first, then we can easily take the picture.” he said.

“You’ve got to have your own artistic vision with pictures you want to capture,” was another tip. I think he meant you need to have an ideal in your mind before you just start snapping away.

I have a lot to learn, but I enjoyed myself for my day as a professional photojournalist.

A day with Sovan Philong, by Tivea Koam
You may sit in your office all day checking and writing bills if you are an accountant, or, if you are an advertiser, you may spend time going out with your client and finding creative ideas for your next campaign.
Sovan Philong, a 25-year-old photographer at the Phnom Penh Post spends his day taking photographs for his newspaper all over the place, and I was lucky enough to go out with him to see how he spends a day.

Around 10 in the morning, he headed out to take photographs of a general manager of Golden Rice Cambodia. As we got there, he already seemed to have a plan. With too much light and empty background in the room, which makes for a boring photo, Philong decided to take photo in the shop, where it can make a better photograph.

After, he went to Chbar Ampov to see places where he could take stand alone photographs, which aren’t part of any specific article (they stand alone on the page). On the way there, Philong handed down some advice. Photographers have to know what the subject is and how it can be shot differently form previous photos.

One of his photos that has a special place in his memories is of a man standing near a brick wall that was part of a white building.

Sovan Philong also said that it is better to plan ahead before setting out on an assignment, since it is best to get to know the story behind a photo first.

“Sometimes it takes an hour to take just a photograph,” he said.

After visiting Chbar Ampov, he went back to his computer at the newspaper office to edit his photos. Some photos need to be edited for lighting and colours and cropping is usually necessary for perfect framing.

He said that he always goes out to take stand alone photos in the early morning and late evening since it has a better light, adding that when he is free at office, he usually checks websites that have great photos and waiting for a hot news story, like a fire, when he has to jump out an race to the scene.

A day with Pha Lina, by Tang  Khyhay
Once you glance at newspaper for getting information, you may stop to spend more time on the eye-catching photos rather than the tiny letters covering most of the page. You may wonder who is behind the camera capturing all these stunning photos, well one of them is Pha Lina, a photographer at The Phnom Penh Post, and I spent a day with him to see how he works.
He begins the day with a drive from his home in Kandal, and, of course, he snaps pictures all along the way.

Unlike a usual day, when Lina would take pictures of news events or workshop, he was assigned to take pictures of advertisement for Subaru car shop with two members of the newspaper’s marketing staff.

Dressed in all black and prepared for action, he took out his two Nikon cameras as it was almost time to begin shooting. He decided to use the small one with an additional flash. Then he walked around the car show room to look for nice shot, background and composition before he asked the model to pose near the silver car.

He first tested the light by taking several photos in the front of the car. As soon as the model started posing. Pha Lina took many shots and recommended better positions for her to stand. They spent almost forty minutes doing this, then we all sat and read car magazines while we were waiting for the editor.

Okay, so it might not have shown me what it was like to be a photo-journalist, but his first assignment of the day ended up with him test driving of a new car with us in the back, so it seems like a pretty good job, all-in-all.

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