We arrived at a deserted amusement park just outside Siem Reap with Peter Teh, a participant of this year’s 10th Angkor Photo Workshops.
“Once it is dusk, the park will come to life and there will be many people here,” he told us as he waved at some of the workers setting up the rides at the amusement park. The workers nodded and waved their hands back at him.
Peter Teh, whose tutors are Ian Teh and Kosuke Okahara during the workshop, was into his third day of photographing places where Cambodian workers would rest after a hard day’s work. The amusement park’s abandoned rides at a field nearby adds surrealism to the place.
Peter is among the 29 Asian photographers selected this year to be part of the annual Angkor Photo Workshop. For the first time this year, the photo festival has lifted its age barrier of 30 years old, allowing photographers like Peter, who is 39 years old, to submit their applications for the workshop.
Since its inception in 2005, the Angkor Photo Workshop forms the heart and soul of the event, and plays a significant role in shaping young photographers in Asia. Over the years, many of the workshops’ alumni have gone on to become successful photographers.
The workshops are intense, with students photographing and editing their work around the clock for five days to produce a photo story under the mentorship of some of the best photographers in the industry.
All these are very new to Peter, a Malaysian graphic designer currently based in Singapore. Prior to the workshop, he photographs mostly his friends and family members. “The workshop is making me think a lot about finding my voice in photography and what I want to do with it,” he said in an interview.
Kosuke Okahara, one of the tutors of the workshop, said he hoped the students would start to think more about their own photography after the workshop. “For some, it may be a starting point for them and to others, it may be a turning point,” he said. “But most of all, it is important to know who they are so that they are able to give themselves a direction in photography.”
For Bea Bermundo, a participant who hails from Manila, the workshop has taught her to take chances in the process of making a photo essay. During the workshop week, she studied under Antoine D’Agata and Sohrab Hura.
Bea, who is a documentary producer in a TV news channel, was cycling along a path in a nearby forest and got lost when she stumbled upon a Cambodian family who allowed her to photograph and spend nights at their family home. She has created a series of portraits of the family, weaving in details to make the photographs look surreal.
“Getting lost into the forest is like a metaphor for my experience at the workshop,” Bea said. “Despite the challenges, I chose a route and went through it and now, I feel I am a completely different person.”