Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Snapping Pics in Phnom Penh

If you read my last post, then you know what I’ve been up to lately.  I have been taking pictures all over the streets of Cambodia.  It’s been fun, but there are quite a few obstacles I’ve had to overcome to make this happen. 

First, I had to act like a tourist.  I’m not a tourist.  I live here, and I’m proud of that.  But running around snapping pictures of total strangers is something a tourist does.  And to be honest, I’d kind of rather them think I’m a tourist.  I don’t know.  It’s weird.  Have you ever just taken your camera out and snapped pictures in your hometown?  I just felt funny.  But I got over that.  My “I love Cambodia” t-shirt from the market helps me fit the tourist profile.

Another obstacle was fear.  No, not fear of being harmed or lost or even ridiculed (that was the first one), but fear of my camera being stolen!  I worry that someone could grab it while I’m on the tuk tuk or ride by on a moto and yank it off my neck.  They do that here.  So to start with I only used the camera when my big strong husband (and our two young distractions) could tag along!  Kind of canceled each other out, huh?  Now I’m more confident about where to go and when, and I take my camera along as much as I can.  Only time will tell if that is the right choice.  It wouldn’t hurt to see if that thing is insured here in Cambodia either, though. 

And then when I finally got out there to take photos I worried what I would take photos of.  I mean, I like taking pictures of my kids and of families and cute things that are somewhat posed and, at the very least, AWARE that the camera in my hand is aimed at them.  These people had no idea!  I watched a youtube video from a NYC street photographer and the best advice he had was “shoot everything.” You never know what will turn out nice and what won’t.

So I did.  I took some pictures Saturday night as our tuk tuk creeped through traffic.  It was twilight and the fading sunlight combined with the moving vehicle we were in made for poor images.  Lesson learned.  But some of these not-so-blurry but not-so-sharp images turned out quite beautiful.

And that brings me to the last obstacle, the biggest one.  One which I’m still trying to figure out how to overcome.  See, if I want people to love these Cambodians and see their needs, and in turn hopefully have a changed heart to help them, then I have to show them to you.  But, since I love these children and want them to have better lives, I don’t want to post their faces on the internet for anyone to see.  It’s not hard to figure out where we are in the photos to someone who knows what they are doing.  And Cambodia is one of the largest centers of child sex trafficking on the globe, so yes, people ARE looking.  They are looking at the dirty children on the street who have no parents around and I don’t want to make that job easier for them! 

So here’s what I decided... most of the photos I took that first night are blurry.  That was a lighting and movement issue.  Or was it?  Maybe it was God showing me a way to do this.  I will show you faces of people when I can.  People who don’t seem like targets.  But not the children.  Not for now.  Until I learn more.  I will try to take beautiful photos of the children, too, doing my best to keep their identities safe.

And the quality of images is greatly reduced here on the blog anyway.  So, here are some shots I got.  They were up on the river front, a popular place for tourists, hotels, restaurants, and fun.  That makes it a good place for people from overseas and here in Cambodia to hang out.  And a place for poor Cambodians to sell various treasures or ask for money.  It was a great photo op.

And I would appreciate your feedback – your favorites, ones you don’t like, and any further ideas on this new “project” of mine!    Here you go:

Fishing on the riverfront.  We've seen people catch stuff in nets here, never seen a pole here before, but it was fun to watch.

View from the tuk tuk into a traffic jam.  It's not always this bad but in some places, at some intersections, it gets really busy at times.

I forget what these are called.  They taste like a grapefruit - a giant one - but not quite as sour.  And we peel them like an orange and eat the pieces.  Popular with the locals, hence the street corner sales.

Children carrying children.  Pretty common sight in parts of the city.  I can't imagine that life.  Little one's face is blurred for safety.

Kids playing at the riverfront - it's a great place because of the wide sidewalks.  Much better than the streets - and probably less holes, too!  

Buddhist monks are everywhere.  Their orange robes are so beautiful and they do seem very kind.  I would love to talk to one some day.  Here's a few on a tuk tuk.

Typical street shot... trash everywhere. It's so sad.  I want to start a clean up PP campaign, but goodness, I can only do one thing at a time!  

At the riverfront again.

This could have been a really pretty picture, but it is so out of focus!

And in honor of international tourism day coming soon, they have flags from all the nations along the river. Note our USA flag! And how about those skies?!

Don't worry, there will be more pictures.  Hopefully better ones.  And I'd love your suggestions on how to make that happen.

And don't just look at them.  Pray for them!  Love them!  Ask for ways to help them.  I can help you if you need it.

Until next time...

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