In the Khmer language: Preăh Réachéanachâkr Kâmpŭchea (ព្រះរាជាណាចក្រ កម្ពុជា), or the “Land of Kâmpŭchea’,it was already known as Cambodia in the first half of the 1500s, as recorded in the diaries of Antonio Pigafetta in “Report of the first trip around the world” drawn up during the first circumnavigation of the globe made together with Ferdinand Magellan.
An East Indochina country, Cambodia is marked by the Mê Kông River (Tonlé Thom or Great River), which comes from as far away as Tibet, and the large Tonlé Sap Lake, which is also the country’s primary fishing resource.
The Land of Kâmpŭchea owes its kingship to the Khmer Empire, which left us, in addition to the fascinating capital Phnom Penh, some of the world’s most unique sites, such as the Angkor Temples.
The population, predominantly animist, dedicated to the cult of the dead and ancestors, follow Theravada Buddhism. With 96% of the inhabitants practising it, this is considered the state religion. A small Muslim community, Cham (2%), also resides in the country, while Christianity is widespread in some mountain tribes.
It is a workshop, but it is not: it is about learning a trade in the field.
Cambodia 2019 is a real on-the-job training where photojournalist Gabriele Orlini brings his experience as a professional to bear to teach those who want to pursue this profession a few fundamental things. An example: do you know where money is exchanged in Asia?
Cambodia 2019 is designed for a team of up to four people.
Immersive and strenuous field work, getting hands and feet dirty, designed and developed for those photographers and reporters who want to enhance their experience, training and expertise in documentary photography, reportage, photojournalism and storytelling.
Each participant will be given a topic to develop: an authentic assignment to take home. From the search for information to the planning of the work to its realisation. The aim is to acquire the processes and experiences of documentary photography under real-life conditions. Little theory, therefore, but a lot of experience. Because certain things cannot be learned unless you try them out with someone who already knows them.
From the capital Phnom Penh, with a diversion to Kompong Luong, we will spend the night on the Tonlé Sap Lake, seeking hospitality among the local people who live in pile dwellings on the waters of the lake.
At the end of the monsoon season, which makes it all the more accurate, we walk through the history of the country and the people who live there, in their homes, in their villages, off the beaten tourist track, and head east towards Kompong Chan, where the country’s largest Muslim community lives, amidst the ruins of the French colonial past.
Stopping near Kratie and Kho Trong Island on the Mekong River, we pass through immense rice paddies and sugar cane plantations to reach the rolling hills of Mondulkiri, Cambodia’s wildest land.
We spend our time with the proud Bunong, an animist who still worships their ancestors until we cross the jungle with the elephants, who have a home here with the Mahot, their guardians.
Each participant, following their work, will come into direct contact with local communities and experience first-hand the situations and daily life that they will then go on to document. There will be no discounts for anyone: everyone must put themselves on the line to bring home the result.
This a unique opportunity to work in the field, with all the difficulties and necessities that a reportage job has: from managing contacts on site to travelling, solving unforeseen problems, and producing material with often very tight deadlines.
And what better opportunity to put yourself to the test than this, with the security of having a guide at your disposal who has not only experienced these situations but can also master them and provide valuable tips for dealing with them even when you are out in the field, on your own.
To close the day, there will be editing sessions of the work done so far, with ample time for discussion and debate every evening- and sometimes at night. In addition, the programme for the following day will be defined, including any changes to the travel route.
The permanent guidance of Gabriele Orlini will ensure the right direction in the development of the projects and will be continuous support for each participant during the fieldwork.
If you want an all-inclusive trip or a workshop where you are told how good you are, Cambodia 2019 is not for you. Here we create people aware of their capabilities, future professionals, who know how to bring out unimaginable resources but also know when it is time to step aside. Not superheroes but witnesses to stories.