How do you photograph a theme like “love”, “abstract” or “belief”?
That was the challenge set for the 602 photographers who dashed around Phnom Penh yesterday taking shots as part of Canon’s PhotoMarathon 2013.
The free annual competition, now in its third year and hosted at the Chaktomuk Conference Hall by Canon’s authorised agent in Cambodia, i-Qlick, saw the participants given two hours to capture images related to each of the three themes.
Winning shots included Sut Samphos’s image of a family at bath time, symbolising “love”; a soft-focus yellow and purple flower by Duberchin Faithe in the “abstract” category; and a young man leaping off a high-diving board by Suong Mardy for “belief”.
The three best photos in each session were awarded i-Qlick vouchers and equipment. They will also get to attend photography workshops at next month’s Angkor Photo Festival with two to be selected to attend an international photo clinic organised by Canon Singapore in a yet-to-be-determined country.
The results and interpretations were as diverse as the participants, who ranged from paid professionals to snap-happy amateurs.
After a bit of head scratching, friends Chart Long, 22, and Oul Chamroeun, 27, decided the best place to get photos to convey the third theme of “belief” would be down the road at the riverside Wat Ounalom.
On the way there, Long said he wasn’t taking the competition very seriously.
“I love photography,” said Long. “But I’m just here for the experience, to have fun, relax and hang out.”
Chamroeun, on the other hand, was taking it very seriously indeed.
“I want to win,” he said, grinning.
At the temple Chamroeun said it was tricky getting good shots in such a restricted time frame.
“It’s difficult because the light is better in the evening and there would be more monks praying,” he said.
Long was forced to ask some monks relaxing outside to come inside and pray while they took shots.
Liwen Tan, i-Qlick’s marketing manager, said the themes were more challenging than in previous years.
“They give more room for interpretation and creativity,” she said.
Liwen added that the competition has been growing in popularity, with about 100 more participants than last year.
“We’ve done more publicity this year but I think more people in Cambodia are interested in photography,” she said.
The winners were judged by Southeast Asia Globe editor-in-chief Dene Mullen, Canon Imaging Academy lecturer Phan Phearith and Singaporean photographer Joseph Goh with the criteria being relevance to the theme, creativity in theme interpretation, use of colours and light, and composition.
Goh said he and the other judges were impressed by the quality of the photos and the passion shown.
“Those that did the best were the ones that managed to relate a story,” he said. “The subject matter is the most important thing.”
He said he had also taken note of the youth of those competing in this year’s Cambodian leg of the PhotoMarathon.
“It’s a good sign,” he said. “They are just starting out.”
The winners for the “Love” theme were Sut Samphos, Oum Nhean Piseth and Bin Sakvisal for the “abstract” theme Duberchin Faithe, Roly Touch and Sok Pich and for the “belief” theme Suong Mardy, Chak Vorleak and Vong Sopheak.