Travels in Cambodia
January. A typically quiet month, it’s raining, snowing and it gets dark by 3pm in England. This year I decided to explore a new corner of the world and I got in touch with ADB (Asian Development Bank). This Core Environment Program is helping countries to address key environmental issues and achieve sustainable development. My job was to fill the gaps in their photo library by travelling to a region in Cambodia called the Koh Kong. Here I visited different communities deep in the jungle, flooded villages in a mangrove plantation and families living on the banks of the river Ta Tai.
My subject was biodiverse landscapes, the livelihoods of families, climate change and building capacity. How would I portray these different concepts?
On a personal level my interest was the people, how could I adapt and communicate in order to photograph them. My worries were unfounded, on arriving at Koh Kang a multitude of children greeted me with hello, hello, hello! I was led around the village exploring mussel nets, and baskets of crabs and introduced to men untangling endless fishing nets. The thirty five families in this community had lived here for years seemingly cut off to the outside world.
I have come away from my explorations in Cambodia with a freshness and purpose with my photography, particularly my portraiture. People always seem to ask what I am particularly interested in photographing and the more time goes on the more I seem to be drawn to people. Real people. Old, young, fat, thin, boys, girls, men, women.
In 2006 I lived in Mexico for five months. My purpose there was to work in an orphanage in Guadalajara. Working with children was genuinely inspirational. I felt like I was doing something, even if it was only a tiny contribution to humanity. If I had been ten years older I would have adopted one of them, in particular David, not a very Mexican name and he also had blonde hair, but he was wonderful. I would sit for hours with him. It was very hard to leave in the end.
My recent time in Cambodia has re-opened my eyes to the simple fun of children and confirmed what I enjoy photographing the most. Children Those fun, joyful, innocent, ethereal creatures!