Big prizes up for grabs in annual Canon competition that aims to foster local talent
The annual Canon PhotoMarathon Cambodia – the Kingdom’s largest amateur photo competition – is a bit like a huge photographic treasure hunt.
Hundreds of amateur snappers spend the day scouring Phnom Penh for images on three separate themes announced at different stages during the event, all in hope of winning photographic equipment, training and a chance to learn from experts in Japan.
Announcing a call for entries yesterday, Liwen Tan, regional marketing manager of authorised Canon agent I-Qlick, said the aim was to foster Cambodia’s fledgling photography scene.
“The passion of photography grows, and their skills grow in the competition as well,” she said, adding that I-Qlick was selling the “experience” of photography along with its cameras.
“I think photography is a beautiful hobby, to take and share beautiful pictures. As a company, we don’t just sell products – we want to sell an experience as well,” said Tan.
The contest will start at 9am in the morning and comprise three hour-long segments in which snappers ply the city looking for the best shots. Contestants will be judged on technique and relevance to the themes.
With the exception of smart phones, any camera is permissible, from budget compacts to full-frame DSLRs. While contestants are free to exploit their camera’s settings to obtain any effect they desire, editing is forbidden.
Tan added that digital photography in the Kingdom, which is largely the domain of youth, has noticeably matured as young enthusiasts evolve from shooting on automatic to setting up shots manually.
“When you look at photos posted online, you see the quality of photos are a lot better – they’re not just doing point and shoot,” said Tan, adding that the photos posted by amateurs on I-Qlick’s Facebook page were becoming increasingly sophisticated.
“It’s not just beautiful pictures of Cambodia, but you’re seeing moral messages and photojournalism.”
The contest’s ultimate goal, she said, was to identify raw talent that could be converted into professional level skill.
“Our dream for these kinds of competitions is to identify good photographers, nurture them, and help them become international photographers some day.”
Last year’s grand prize winner, Vong Sopheak, said he never imagined he’d end up going to Japan to learn the trade along with the best of the region’s budding talent.
“Normally, I just took photos everyday just for fun and never tried to make photographs to compete with another photographer,” said the 22-year-old, adding his Japan experience took his skills to a new level.
“In Japan, it was my first time, so everything there was new to me – truly, I was really excited to make photographs.”
Bin Sakvisal, whose photo of a father and son won third place in the “Love” category in 2013, was in his first year of a budding photography career at the time and ecstatic to win his first photo award.
“I didn’t expect to win at all at that time, as there were so many professional and inspirational participants.
I just focused on my shooting techniques of photography and combined it with good meaning behind the photo to make the images more lively and meaningful,” said the 26-year-old.
He said of the winning photo: “It was a nice family, living in a poor neighbourhood in Phnom Penh, and [the] father was feeding his son and they both laughed happily. It really inspired me.”
The prize paid off, he added – he is now the manager of Smileshot Studio, which provides wedding photography services.
Noun Sonisa, who picked up a second-place prize in the “Student” category last year at age 15, was similarly startled to pick up an award.
“To be frank, the possibility of me winning has never crossed my mind.
I was a total amateur, and the large amount of contestants also gave me no hope,” said Sonisa, who won in the “Generation” category for a photo of family heirloom.
“I took the winning photograph at the house of my friend who was also a contestant.
With the ancient jewellery he has, the concept ran through my mind, and that was when I took the photo,” she said.
While Liwen said she was pleased at last year’s turnout and hopes for more this year, she said the passion and skills of the young photographers were of no surprise to anyone paying attention to the scene.
“It’s just very encouraging seeing young people getting creative, and creating photography to share,” she said.
“From just looking at pictures, Cambodia has the talent.”
Post Weekend is a media partner of the Canon PhotoMarathon Cambodia along with Sabay.
Gold sponsors are The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Vespa and Central Mall, Tous les Jours is a Silver sponsor and Bronze sponsors are Platinum Cineplex, Olatte, Euro Tech, Acer and Angkor Photo Festival and Workshops.
This year's PhotoMarathon will be held on October 4. For more details and to register go to www.facebook.com/iqlickcambodia.