Art photography taking hold with Siem Reap kids

Art photography taking hold with Siem Reap kids

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090430_07.jpg

Five students from NGO Global Child are showing 20 of their best shots in a six-day exhibition at the Old Market McDermott Gallery.

Photo by:
KYLE SHERER

Robbie Flick, photography instructor.  

SIEM Reap may be the most photographed province in the country, thanks to professional temple watchers and mobs of snap-happy tourists. But lack of training and limited access to cameras means that few of the photographs are taken by the Cambodians who live here. A new photography exhibition at the Old Market McDermott Gallery shows the town and its people through the eyes of students from NGO Global Child.

The kids were selected to take part in a 10-week photography course led by Global Child volunteer Robbie Flick, and 20 of their best shots are available for purchase in a silent auction that closes tomorrow night. Starting bids are US$10, with a $100 buyout option.

Flick began a camera class when he saw the level of interest the kids had in photography.

"A lot of the kids are used to taking photos with cameras borrowed from friends, but they mainly use it for fun. I wanted to see my passion for photography blossom in other kids."

Using a collection of point-and-shoot cameras and a 15mm lens, Flick took the kids through a crash course in camera use. "At the start, they didn't know about shutter speed, aperture or exposure," he said. But after 10 weeks of classes, field trips and experimentation, Flick said the kids "can speak confidently about their work".

Flick said the photographs provide insight into the life of the young Cambodians: "We get to see how they see the world."

As part of the course, Flick encouraged experimentation, and the result is a wide variety of styles and subject matter.

Marot Bun, for example, is exhibiting a sombre photograph called "Tuol Sleng Light", which shows a dark grim hallway with the sun shining through barred windows, but is also showcasing the less political piece "Interesting Tree".

Other photos show family members, friends and New Year festivities. Soda Chhourn, a 13-year-old student, took a picture of an old woman walking down the street with a basket of goods on her head, after noticing the pattern of the shadows.

Flick believes that photography could add much-needed flair to the Khmer art scene.

"The problem with a lot of Cambodian art is that it's not experimental," he said. "People try to replicate what has come before. But cameras are very easy to experiment with. Photography is great. You can pick it up and go."

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