The following are questions we received during a Live Q&A session on Instagram. Answers have been edited and summarised for clarity.
Q: Does my proposal have to be based in/about Siem Reap?
A: The proposal can be rooted in any topic or concept, but it still has to be connected with Siem Reap (or Cambodia in general) and the people here. During the process of making work while in Siem Reap, it is important to us that participants to engage with the place and people where the workshop is taking place.
We have had photographers from a wide range of practices join the workshops – documentary, personal, conceptual etc. Regardless of your photographic practice, and your chosen project idea, it is an important part of the workshop that you’re able to find a way to open yourself up to the place and its people while creating your work.
Q: How can I propose something about Siem Reap if I’m not familiar with the place?
A: Siem Reap is not a difficult place to research about online, or if you can, ask people you know who have attended the workshop or have visited Siem Reap. Extended research would also be useful, by referring to academics and their published work. There is no need to be too stressed about becoming an expert overnight, just read and learn what you can, and combine that with you existing areas of interests.
Q: If accepted, do I have to stick to my proposed idea? Or can I change or improve the proposal eventually?
A: Part of the workshop is discussing your ideas and the project you want to do with your tutors and peers, and it is normal that proposals become refined or changed during this process. We expect you to evolve and adapt during your experience here, so it is normal if your approach and ideas change.
Q: Can I propose to continue a project that I have been working on for a long time?
A: Yes. You can do any project or idea, so long as what you create during the workshops is rooted to or connected to Siem Reap or Cambodia.
Q: How ‘long’ does the project I do in Siem Reap have to be?
A: This is not something you have to worry about at this stage. If accepted for the workshops, you will be photographing daily, and with your tutors, you will create an edited series from the work you have made.
Q: Do the samples of previous work (portfolio) I upload have to be related to the proposal I submit?
A: No. Your previous work is a way for us to know you better as an applicant, and does not have to be connected to your proposal. In fact, it is quite common for people to create very different work from what they submitted while at the workshops.
Q: Are selections made based on the previous work (portfolio) we submit, or our proposal?
A: There is no fixed criteria or weight, and both would be important aspects that we look at in combination. They both work together to help us better understand you, your photographic practice, how you approach your work, and how you think.
Q: Can I submit previous work made on film? What if I want to work with film during the workshops, are there darkroom facilities?
A: Yes, for previous work examples you can submit any format of work, including film. However, during the workshops, we prefer you to focus on the act of photography, and using film is discouraged so that you’re able to dedicate as much time as possible to the act of photography.
Q: What are you looking for in samples of previous work (portfolio)? Should I submit a type of genre, or my best pictures?
A: We ask for examples of your previous work because we want to know you better as a practitioner of photography, and what your direction or interests are. When deciding what images to submit, think about what you would like us to know about you, and what would best represent you. It's better to show us who you are, honestly, rather than to strategise to show us what you think we want to see.
Q: Do you require text if we submit a PDF?
A: That is entirely up to you. If you feel text is important, then you should include it!
Q: What is expected from participants during the workshops?
A: We hope participants are able to dive deep into their practice, amd understand themselves more deeply. At the end of the day, our workshops are not only about photography. While the work you create here is important, it is not as crucial as the process and experience you undergo in order to create that work. There will be a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun!
Q: Is there a specific number of participants per country every workshop?
A: No, we do not have a quota of any sorts.
Q: Do we need to be a professional, or to have published work?
A: No, there is no criteria about this. We have had participants from a wide range of backgrounds, from beginners to full-time photographers.
Q: Can we use camera phones during the workshop?
A: While we believe that photographers should and can use any device to create their work, phone cameras included, we do not think that it would be suitable to use phone cameras at our workshops. An important part of our workshops is cultivating an understanding of the responsibilities attached to being in a position of photographing others, as well as that of being an author or witness. Due to the ‘normality’ of using the phone as a camera in our digital age, it inadvertently allows the photographer to avoid those responsibilities, becoming a spectator instead of a proper actor in the process.
Q: Do I have to 'finish' the project during the workshops?
A: You will work with your tutors to create a cohesive series that can be shared/shown at the end of the workshops. However, many of our alumni go on to continue developing their projects even after the workshops.
Q: What is really going to happen at the workshops?
A: There will be morning group sessions for discussions about each other’s work, as well as another session later in the day with a smaller group or one-on-one for more detailed reviews and advice. During the time outside of these sessions (before, in between, after), participants will be expected to be creating work as much as possible. Towards the end of the workshops, you will be editing and sequencing your work, under the guidance of your tutors, to create a cohesive series that will be shared with the public.
You will get feedback, questions, advice, and ideas; you might come to look at and think about photography differently, and find yourself trying different approaches or methods. But beyond all this, a big part of what happens is up to the individual – the energy you are able to bring, and what you’re willing to do for your work.