It’s seven o’clock on a weekday morning. A bus pulls up outside your house and eighteen foreigners with twice as many cameras spread out onto your street, taking pictures of you, your home and your children. How would you react?
Now, if it were me, I’d be less than amused by what I would see as a huge invasion of privacy. The people of Kampong Khleang, Cambodia, however, took our morning presence in their community in their strides. The concept of personal space is different in traditional villages, where houses are simple and small, and so much regular daily activity happens outside in public view.
It was raining when the bus stopped so that I and thirteen other keen photographers, with our photographic mentors and tour leaders Karl Grobl, Gavin Gough, Marco Ryan and Matt Brandon, could disembark – with our cameras wrapped in protective plastic and our umbrellas. People smiled and waved from the porches and doorways of their houses of thatch, wood and corrugated iron as we walked up the muddy road – the only road – to meet a boat on Tonlé Sap Lake.
This town doesn’t see a lot of tourists. Never the less, the people were completely unselfconscious, smiling and friendly, in our presence. They went about their morning business, engaging with us readily, and most were willing to be photographed.
Some, of course, were completely oblivious to our presence.
I hate having my picture taken. So, I am extremely mindful to make sure I have permission before I take environmental portraits; portraits of people in their natural surroundings. I continue to marvel at how much easier it is to make pictures of people in this part of the world.
In spite of the difficulty of their daily lives, they seem to know how to keep smiling.
I need to practice doing the same! 🙂