In the past, few people in Cambodia were interested in learning photography, and those who did became only wedding party photographers or the photographers who work in front of the Royal Palace or Wat Phnom.
Nonetheless, few recent years, the art of shooting photos is booming in Cambodia, and has become one of the main interests among young people.
Tang Chhin Sothy, who has worked as a photographer for Agence-France-Presse for many years and is on the Canon Photomarathon II Cambodia 2012 committee, said: “Many young Cambodians really love photography and some of them spend money on digital cameras and even join photography classes."
The development of economics and technology are the two main factors that have fuelled the boom, he said. Since the economy, and the standard of living, have improved – technology has developed, and young Cambodians who really love photography can afford digital cameras.
Another famous photographer, Ma Channara, who is known as RooSter_KooL added, “The improvement in internet access and social media enable young Cambodians to access the internet and know more about the developing world, such as the art work of foreign photographers.”
He also said that many young people love to post their work and photos on Facebook, blogs and other social media sites to show their art work and achievement in shooting and they are often inspired by their work when they get good comments or likes from their friends.
Some young professional photographers are local students who had the chance to study abroad and came back with a knowledge of shooting, and can start to show Cambodian people that a good professional could earn more than US$1000 for one day doing wedding photos, he added.
One of the young photography lovers, Nop Panharith, 19, an architecture student at Pannasastra University, said, “Shooting photos is my hobby and I also use it in my studies.”
He explained that his major is architecture, and noting and describing only in words is not enough for the study, and could not make him imagine or understand about shapes and pictures of the architecture. If he has a camera, he can take a picture of every part of those buildings and learn more about it.
Photography clubs and courses are also becoming popular. Keo Dararatha, 25, who works in marketing at i-Qlick said, “Since we found out that young Cambodians tend to be interested in photography while some of them do not know much about camera-control such as depth of field, lighting and rules for shooting, we have created photography courses so that the art work by the new generation can match the quality of other photography in Asia and Europe.”
Some companies, governmental departments and organisations use photo events to send out their message to youth. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organised a photo story competition about sustainable development in Cambodia, for example.
Ms Phearanich Hing, climate change analyst for UNDP Cambodia and photo story completion organiser said: “UNDP Cambodia organised the event because the power of photography is increasing and UNDP wants to promote that while providing a platform for young people to express their understanding or concerns on sustainable development."
Thong Keobunnath, planning officer at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, echoed that it is a good idea for Cambodian youth to spend their free time taking up photography. He added that young Cambodians can use photography in positive ways: to study, or even to take pictures that show off Cambodia to the the world.