Portrait Photography

Chum Mey S21 Survivor

Returning to a personal portrait photography project Dreamyland with this picture of Chum Mey. Chum May is one of 3 people left alive today of just a few who survived the infamous Phnom Penh security prison known as S21 during the Khmer Rouge era in 70s Cambodia. An estimated 20000 men. women and children were tortured at the former Phnom Penh high school in Tuol Sleng district before execution at Chung Ek on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, one of the many killing fields found across the country.

Most days Chum Mey can be found speaking with tourists and selling his autobiographical book “Survivor” at the Tuol Sleng Genocide museum along with fellow survivor Bou Meng.

I came across this informative 2016 BBC article by Kirstie Brewer about the two survivors at S21.

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Portrait Photography in Cambodia

Still a work in progress, additional Cambodian portraits and refinements of existing portraits can be seen in the Dreamyland gallery. I plan to expand the number of images and diversity of subjects, also to refine the technique.

Big shout out to Bunsak But on the retouching and post production end. We hope to exhibit the series one day.

Studio Portrait of Tauch Lon's dad

As with the "Dreamyland" environmental portrait photographs, this one was shot with what is known as a Joel Grimes edgy lighting style.

The Dreamyland series utilises studio portraiture, landscape photography and composite techniques usually associated with commercial advertising photography, aiming to blur the aesthetic boundaries between fine art photography, social realism and the advertising world. The photographic techniques deployed were inspired by commercial advertising photography, particularly by the portrait photographs of sportsmen and women created by LA based commercial advertising photographer Joel Grimes.

I decided to keep this one simple without a background place or landscape. The portrait is of the late Tauch Leng who sadly died July 2015 at the age of 75, my assistant Tauch Lon's father, from puhm Chrey Toiche in Kandal province. Leng was a typical Cambodian rice farmer and often trendy wedding musician back in the day, who like all Cambodians of his age lived through and survived the atrocious Khmer Rouge era.

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Portrait photography at Liger Learning Centre

I was recently hired to shoot a project during some of the hottest days yet this year, even hot for the Cambodian hot season, temperatures were up to 40C during this portrait photography session. My subjects were the talented students and staff at Liger Learning Centre in Ta Khmao district south of Phnom Penh, the heat didn't seem to bother the students, fans and surrounding foliage at the school grounds helped keep things a bit cooler.

The center is a charity foundation providing a proper rounded education to underprivileged children from around Cambodia. Out of around 1200 students aged 8 to 9, just 50 are accepted onto the 4 year programme. An exceptional school and a cool bunch of kids to work with, all of who could speak great English and hardly needed direction for the shots.

We also shot some architectural photography as well as groups, activities and class action photos. It was a nice change to the usual events and commercial photography. The photographs are to be used for the new Liger website currently in production. We shot the portrait photographs as requested in landscape format, outdoors. All the portraits were taken under a skylight on the roof of the school's main building. This diffused the otherwise extreme direct sunlight and created a soft natural look against the foliage of the surrounding gardens.

Below are some random samples from the portrait sessions.