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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Photo collection launched in e-book format

The Boy and the Fishing Net - taken during a countryside tour. ERIC DE VRIES
The Boy and the Fishing Net - taken during a countryside tour. ERIC DE VRIES

Photo collection launched in e-book format

Anew e-book has hit the digital marketplace – Monochrome: This is Cambodia is a 500-photo collection of Dutch-born Siem Reap photographer Eric de Vries’ time in Cambodia to date, from 2007 to 2013.

The book features black and white and sepia pictures taken all over Cambodia including street photography and countryside shots. Many come from images snapped during photography tours and workshops that De Vries runs, as well as photos from his personal projects.

“In a way it’s a sort of ‘best of’,” says de Vries. “What I’ve done over the last six or seven years while living in Cambodia. I’ve been looking through all my stuff and making a selection – a hell of a job.

“I’ve put in some highlights of photographic series like the Khmer stand-off at Preah Vihear, and portraits I did at Srah Srang.”

As well as shots of Siem Reap, there are images from Phnom Penh, Battambang, Ratanakiri, Preah Vihear and Kep.

The photographer himself, fronting the lens with trepidation. MIRANDA GLASSER
The photographer himself, fronting the lens with trepidation. MIRANDA GLASSER

Monochrome is available in a choice of two covers – one a black and white montage of different shots and the other a striking, red image of a girl forming a camera viewfinder-shape with her hands.

“I had some difficulties deciding what to put on the cover because I’ve got really good shots,” says de Vries. “I started with eight, reduced it to four, and finally reduced it to two. The red photo is a little girl in Phnom Penh.

“Because it’s called Monochrome, most of the pictures are in black and white or sepia and I thought I’d bring some colour in. The other is a collage of some of the pictures in the book.”

De Vries says his favourite shots are the portraits. He cites a photo he took of a girl in a market which has the appearance of being set up, but was in fact completely spontaneous.

“It is so easy to photograph people here,” he says. “One of the pictures I took at Kandal market in Phnom Penh I really like because she is not paying attention to me. I like the whole framing. In a way it is part of street photography but it looks like it took time to take that picture. I shot that during one of the last workshops I did in Phnom Penh.

“I also love the shoot I did with monks at Wat Bo.”

Another favourite is the moody photo of a fisherman flinging a billowing net out over the water, an image that de Vries got with one shot on one of his countryside photo tours.

“It’s all in the timing,” he says.

Monochrome also contains images from another forthcoming photographic series and book, to be called Jesus of the Moon, which takes its title from a Nick Cave song. The track inspired De Vries to take a series of darker nightlife pictures, based on his interpretations of the track.

“I think the song is about someone in a mid-life crisis wanting to have a change, and probably along with that, a one-night-stand in a hotel,” he says. “But I think it’s more than that reading between the lines, and that’s what I tried to make a series about. I put a couple of pictures in the e-book but I hope to finish the series in September.”

De Vries says he takes inspiration from everything he sees including, as an example, a dead mouse he found in his house.

“I tried to throw it out over the wall but we have barbed wire,” he says, “so it got stuck in the barbed wire. Then two ants came and I saw it – and I had to take a picture. Things like that.”

De Vries has had ten books published to date, in print and e-book version.

Monochrome is available on www.lulu.com for $7.99

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