© Zinkie Aw

It was a scorching hot day in Siem Reap but the Anjali Photo Workshop participants were unperturbed. They were busy photographing scenes found in a local village.

Walking along the Bakong Village some 40 kilometres away from the Siem Reap, Ry Savroun or Roun and four other Anjali Photo Workshop participants ranging between 12 and 20 years old, piqued the curiosity of villagers resting and working outside their homes.

These villagers, in turn, caught the keen eyes of the young photographers.

Under a coconut tree, a man was shoveling wood chips, his dark skin gleaming under the sun. Savroun, whom at 20 years old is the eldest in the group, asked him if he would like to have his portrait taken.

After several minutes of persuasion, the man gingerly stepped on the wooden chips and struck a pose with his shovel. Excited by the prospect of making a portrait, all five quickly raised their cameras and snapped pictures, much to the amusement of other villagers nearby.

This is a typical moment at the Anjali Photography Workshops, an annual event organized by the Angkor Photo Festival & Workshops for 50 children of Anjali House, a non-profit organization providing meals and healthcare to under-privileged street kids and their families in Siem Reap.

From 21 to 30 Nov, the children spend about four hours daily to learn the ropes of photography from 10 professional photographers, who volunteer their time for this initiative.

The workshop is an integral part of the APFW, whereby a selection of the photographs that the children take are shown to the public during the festival.

It is an event that youths like Roun look forward to, who has participated in four Anjali photography workshops since 2010. The workshops, he said, have inspired him to be a photographer one day. “I want to show the people what Cambodia daily life is like,” he said. “Photographing people working and resting makes me happy because they are real.”

Roun and his friends are led by tutor Paolo Patrizi, who has taught the workshop since 2011.

Paolo said teaching these young photographers is a joy because of their enthusiasm and spontaneity about photography. “What I mainly do is to teach them to express themselves through photography, rather than relying on technical aspects of the camera.”

Paolo’s efforts are paying off. His students spotted another man chopping a bamboo under a cotton tree, and quickly approached him. “Get him to come to the light,” Paolo told his students.

After the man’s portrait was taken, Paolo checked everyone’s photographs through the cameras’ viewfinders to make sure the composition was alright.

He then guided the students to find good angles for their photographs, which involved quite a bit of physical exercise – bending to get a proper frame, and adjusting their distance from the subject before taking the photograph.

By the end of the photo-shoot, Paolo’s students were tired but satisfied with their work for the day.

First-time workshop participant Krem Suki, 12, who had never taken photographs before this, said she is liking her pictures taken during the workshop so far. “They are not perfect but they are good.”

This year, we want to thank our long-time partner i-Qlick Canon for their continued support for the children’s workshops with the loan of Canon Powershot A2500 for the beginners, and Canon EOS1100D cameras for the more advanced learners!

Join us for Children’s Day on December 3rd, 4.30pm, at Shinta Mani, where the amazing Phare Cambodian Circus will be putting up a special performance for the kids. Originally from Battambang, the uniquely Cambodian circus troupe is armed with a mission to provide gainful employment to Cambodian youth from difficult social and economic backgrounds, as well as revive Cambodian modern art.