We had one day for teaching a photography workshop in Cambodia with the teens at Water of Life orphanage. When we hit the point of no one knowing a word for aperture in Cambodian, I felt the freedom to really drop the technical jargon and just go for it! LOL! And so we did! The teens totally got buttery, blurry backgrounds! More than good enough for me!
Teaching a photography workshop in Cambodia was one of the most humbling experiences. It’s already challenging to teach someone Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO when you both speak the same language. But to take it a step further with someone trying to translate, I wasn’t sure if anything was really making sense. But the teens were so hungry to learn and hung in there with my lack of experience in teaching with a translator (Rith and Rin were both AWESOME translating, but it was a different dynamic for me and Brian—no other way to get better then jump in! :).
Everyone wanted to keep pushing forward. So we did the Magic Three that I teach about in the Beyond the Green Box dvd. We also talked about the story telling elements, I teach in Refuse to Say Cheese. They all knew “cheese”, and we talked about what it means to not say that dreadful word and instead capture someone’s life story.
And then we hit the streets of Phnom Penh and decided to take a few hours and shoot away.
We brought as much equipment as possible with us so they could try the gear out. Sony is HUGE in Cambodia. You see the Sony signs everywhere, so they were super excited to try the cameras. I had no idea what had sunk in and felt a little down on myself. But then the guys, and our token sweetie, Sreyown, our only girl—started asking us questions while shooting.
EVERY PHOTO that you see from this point on was taken by the students. Every ONE!
Student Results from Teaching a Photography Workshop in Cambodia
“Is this what you mean by the Third’s Principle Me Ra?
“Is it the lower numbers for f-stop that give me the blurry background?” (Bora Sang is with Blaze. He is Rith’s younger brother who is now at Water of Life with Rith. Bora’s smile and tender heart got into my heart that I cried at the airport when we had to say goodbye. But we will see each other again, yes, we will Bora!)
“How do you focus and then move your camera so you can do the Third’s Principle without losing your focus?”
“Wow, that makes sense!”
“Me Ra, since the sun is so bright, do we use the lower ISO?”
“Will you look at this and tell me if this is what you mean by Filling the Frame so the picture is only full of the story you are trying to tell?”
This is Me Ra—I LOVE how the photo above and below has so much emotion, action, and diversity in both images. And yet, EVERY THING points to the story the photo is trying to tell.
Rin, the amazing art teacher that I told you about yesterday, had some wonderful conversations with me. He wanted to learn photography so he could enhance his drawings, and he wanted to be stretched in his creativity.
We talked about the importance of shadows.
We discussed how important it is to add mystery to your images or drawings—to invite your viewer in. What does it mean to take away light and clarity? What does it mean to cause someone to lean forward, want to know your image’s story, be captivated by what they see but want to understand more of? I talked about different techniques to try. This is one of the photos Rin took from those conversations.
The students were so focused, so intent. This is Tongchou Fleming, and he embraced the camera like nobody’s business!
They were determined to learn as much photography in our time together as possible.
And they LOVED seeing their results. Even the kids jumped in at times to help explain something. Such a gift to me and Brian!
I thank SONY because the Live Preview helped the students grasp these crazy technical elements so fast!
The students could SEE the Live Preview getting darker if they increased their Shutter Speed. They could see the Live Preview get brighter if they raised their ISO. They could watch me show them how to frame with the Third’s Principle. It was pretty, freaking AWESOME! There is no way that such technical ideas could be grasped with this much understanding in one day, not to mention a language barrier and so many other barriers. But to see it—is to believe it!
Brian and I took them all out to ice cream afterwards to celebrate.
They kept thanking us and telling us this was the best day. But oh my goodness, they have no idea how much they gave to me and Brian. They opened their hearts to us. Each one took a risk with their creativity and insecurities. They showed us how they see the world. And this inspired us beyond words.
Thank YOU Water of Life! We LOVE YOU!
Read more about our Cambodia Adventures here!