Guest Post: RJ's Cambodia (F8 Assistant)

Note:  This post is written and all photos by RJ Gurung, assistant photographer/trainee with F8.  He has been training with F8 Photography for approximately 6 months, with little previous knowledge in photography before he started in September 2011.  His enthusiasm and passion for photography drives him and has helped him develop a unique and interesting style.  I felt a trip to Cambodia would help him explore his creativity and push his skills further. - Gary Tyson, Director F8 Photography. (The author and photographer - RJ)(RJ with the street kids)

On the 2nd of March 2012, a small group of us took a direct flight to Cambodia from Hong Kong. Upon arrival in Phnom Penh in the early evening, the light was already gone, therefore we took the time to sample some Khmer food and crashed at our hotel.

Pumped up with the excitement to capture some great shots, the next morning we headed over to the poor areas of the city. Our Tuk Tuk driver advised us to visit these areas as we had told him the type of images we wanted to get, and we felt it portrayed the unfortunate living conditions of many Cambodian people.

(street kids in the railway yard)

Poverty is a big issue in Cambodia, another issue was the traffic which was very chaotic on our travels around the city.  On the roads we could see motorbikes everywhere,  even young children that looked as young as 7 or 8 years old were riding them on busy streets, so I decided to practice some techniques and capture panning shots of the motos and I was happy with the results!

(panning shotwhilst travelling by Tuk Tuk) 

Whilst we were visiting the poor areas of town, we witnessed a lot of interesting characters. There were kids playing around, old folks gathered together for their everyday chats and a humble group of people living their life in a very different way that I am familiar with in Hong Kong. We went further inside the slums and started to take pictures when the kids came over and greeted us with smiles on their faces. I must say I had an incredible time taking pictures of the kids at the same time being mesmerized by their innocence and reminiscing my own childhood.

(the eyes are the window to the soul)

One of the shots of this small kid came out to be pretty strong. I feel like the innocence and shyness of this kid twinkles in his big eyes contrasting with his dirty face reflecting his playfulness. The experience in the slums was very inspiring and it didn't seem  right to just walk away from there after taking the picture so I printed out some of their pictures and gave them a couple of dollars as a sign of respect. Overall, it was a remarkable experience for me to see how humble and lively the people in the slums were despite struggling and living their life in poverty.

(giving a print made a big difference)(RJ likes to shoot wide and close with the street kids)

The next day we went to explore Mekong Island, a short boat trip across the Mekong river.  The island has many old pagodas where the monks live, hence being calm and peaceful in contrast to the city.

(RJ shooting on Mekong Island)

In Cambodia, Buddhism is the main religion, so it was no surprise to see many young monks in the pagodas. We took their pictures and gave quite a lot of prints to them. Unfortunately, our printer ran out of batteries at the end of the day so we decided to go back the next day to give them the remaining prints and they seemed really happy to see us again.

(Young monks on Mekong Island)

We also managed to get the blessings from the monks who prayed for us. As a token of appreciation, we gave them a 50 KG bag of rice.

(Offering rice for the monks at the Pagoda)

The island offered some breathtaking scenery.  Myself and Gary climbed onto the roof of the boat when we were travelling to the island so we could soak up more scenery and sun!

(Gary and myself crossing the river on the roof of the boat)

On the return journey back to the city we were lucky enough to see a stunning sunset which gave me a really good feeling and was the perfect end to the day and the trip before we headed back to Hong Kong the following day.

(Gary & I on the boat during sunset)(Sunset over Phnom Penh)

Gary, the Director of F8 has also written a blog post about his experience, that can be seen by clicking here.

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F8 Photography provides commercial photography and training across Asia, with workshops on Street Photography and other photography and video training courses, more details can be found via the ‘courses and workshops’ link and upcoming events via the front page of our website.