His taller than average frame, pale skin and blonde cum white hair make him stick out in a crowd, but Dutch photographer Eric de Vries revealed his darker side at his exhibition opening night at The Insider Gallery at the InterContinental Phnom Penh last week.
His exhibition titled Ultimate Angkor and Beyond features a series of predominantly black and white photographs at Angkor in Siem Reap and “beyond”, that being Cambodian life on the streets and in the countryside.
“I love black,” de Vries said over a cloud that was his cigarette smoke.
“When I have colour I reduce it. There is a lot of black in my photos.”
He described his dark style as part of his work ethic, saying that colours, for him, would only be used for fun and when he was just messing around.
“I do it because I like it, and that’s what gives me my own style. I just hope others like it too.”
Though at first glance his photos appear to be entirely in black and white, a second glance reveals traces and shades of colour in the mix.
“OK so sometimes I leave a little bit of colour,” he admitted after the fact was pointed out.
“I do this to capture and keep the people’s attention. But there are no rules in photography, you do what you like.”
De Vries, who has been living in Siem Reap since 2007, gives tours and workshops for wannabe photographers at Angkor and also at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.
“Angkor is so important to the culture and history of Cambodians,” de Vries said as part of the reasoning that influenced his exhibition.
Among the photos of temples, apsara dancers and men throwing fishing nets outside the temples, photos which seem a little misplaced – for example, a street dog.
“Some of my photos have nothing to do with Angkor. I want to show more of the everyday good things in Cambodia.
“Normally when I do a series I have a beginning and an end. But with this [exhibition] it doesn’t have an end, just like Cambodia does not have an end, that’s why I’m here.
“After these two exhibitions I don’t think I will be showing these photos anymore. Can’t repeat shows, you must move on to the next bigger and better thing.”
Ultimate Angkor and Beyond will be on exhibit until March 18 at The Insider Gallery on the mezzanine floor of the InterContinental Phnom Penh.