Covering Local Political Events in Cambodia

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Covering local political events and taking pictures in Cambodia can be a risky activity for journalists and photographers. Cambodia has a history of political violence, repression and censorship. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Cambodia ranks 144th out of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index. The CPJ also reports that at least 13 journalists have been killed in Cambodia since 1994, most of them while covering political or environmental issues.

In addition, many journalists and media outlets have faced harassment, intimidation, lawsuits, arrests and closures for criticizing the government or exposing corruption.

Therefore, anyone who wants to cover local political events and take pictures in Cambodia should be aware of the potential dangers and take precautions to protect themselves and their sources. Some of the tips that CPJ recommends are:

– Research the political and security situation in the areas you plan to visit and avoid areas with active conflicts or protests.

– Carry a press card or accreditation from a reputable media organization and show it only when necessary.

– Use encrypted communication tools and secure storage devices to protect your data and contacts.

– Be discreet and respectful when taking pictures and avoid drawing attention to yourself or your equipment.

– Seek permission from local authorities or community leaders before entering sensitive areas or interviewing people.

– Be prepared to delete or hide your pictures if you are stopped or searched by security forces or hostile groups.

– Have an emergency plan and contact person in case you are detained, injured or threatened.

Covering local political events and taking pictures in Cambodia can be a rewarding and challenging experience for journalists and photographers who want to document the realities and stories of this Southeast Asian country. However, it can also be a dangerous activity that requires caution, preparation and professionalism.

I have always been passionate about covering local political events and taking pictures in Cambodia. I believe that journalism is a powerful tool to inform the public and hold the authorities accountable. That is why I decided to pursue this career despite the risks and challenges involved.

Cambodia is a country that has been struggling with political repression, human rights violations, and social unrest for decades. The ruling party, the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), has been in power since 1985 and has eliminated any meaningful opposition or dissent. The 2018 elections were widely criticized as a sham, as the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), was banned by the Supreme Court in 2017. The CPP won all 125 seats in the National Assembly, effectively turning Cambodia into a one-party state.

As a journalist, I face many dangers and difficulties in reporting on the political situation in Cambodia. The government has enacted draconian laws that restrict freedom of expression, assembly, and association. The media is tightly controlled by the state or by CPP-aligned tycoons. Independent journalists and activists are often harassed, intimidated, arrested, or even killed for exposing corruption, human rights abuses, or environmental issues. The Covid-19 pandemic has been used as a pretext to further crackdown on dissent and criticism.

Despite these challenges, I am determined to continue my work and document the realities of Cambodia. I use my camera as a means to capture the stories of ordinary people who suffer from poverty, injustice, and oppression. I also use my pen as a voice to advocate for democracy, human rights, and social change. I hope that my work can inspire others to join me in a better future for Cambodia.

Cambodian Labour Day 2023

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On May 1st, 2023, hundreds of Cambodian workers took to the streets to mark Labour Day and demanded better working conditions and higher wages. The demonstrations were peaceful and well-organized, with no reports of violence or clashes with the authorities. The protesters carried banners and placards with slogans such as “Workers are not slaves”, “We deserve a living wage”, and “Respect our rights”. They also sang songs and chanted slogans in Khmer and English, expressing their solidarity and determination.

The demonstrations were part of a nationwide campaign by the Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC), the largest independent trade union in the country. The CLC represents workers from various sectors, including garment, construction, tourism, and agriculture. The CLC has been advocating for a minimum wage increase from $192 to $250 per month, as well as improved health and safety standards, social protection, and freedom of association. The CLC claims that the current minimum wage is insufficient to cover the basic needs of workers and their families, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living.

The demonstrations were also supported by other civil society groups, human rights organizations, and opposition parties. They called on the government to respect the rights of workers and engage in dialogue with the unions. They also urged the international community to pressure the Cambodian government to uphold its obligations under the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions and other human rights treaties.

The Cambodian government has not responded to the workers’ demands and has maintained tight control over the labour movement. The government has been accused of cracking down on unions and activists, restricting their freedom of expression and assembly, and using legal threats and intimidation to silence dissent. The government has also been criticized for failing to protect workers from exploitation, abuse, and discrimination by employers and foreign investors.

The Cambodian Labour Day demonstrations were a sign of the growing discontent and frustration among the working class in Cambodia. They also showed the strength and resilience of the labour movement in the face of repression and hardship. The workers vowed to continue their struggle until their demands are met and their dignity is restored.

***Rising costs and static wages are causing the ordinary working population to struggle in Cambodia. This means that the prices of goods and services are increasing faster than the income of most people, especially those who work in the garment, textile, and footwear industries. These industries are vital to Cambodia’s economy, as they account for some 80 per cent of total exports and employ over 700,000 workers. However, the workers in these industries only receive a minimum wage of US$194 per month for regular workers and US$192 per month for probationary workers. This is barely enough to cover their basic needs, such as food, transportation, accommodation, and health care. Moreover, the minimum wage has only increased by US$10 in three years, while inflation and living expenses have risen faster. The government has tried to balance the interests of the workers and the employers, but many workers are still dissatisfied with their low wages and poor working conditions. They demanded a higher minimum wage of US$204 per month, but this was rejected by the government. The workers have also faced challenges from the withdrawal of Cambodia’s partial ‘Everything but Arms’ status by the European Union, which gave the country duty-free access to EU markets. This has reduced the demand for Cambodian exports and threatened the jobs of many workers. Therefore, rising costs and static wages are creating a lot of hardship and discontent among the ordinary working population in Cambodia.***

“It’s not fair that we work so hard to make clothes, shoes, and other products for the Western markets, but we barely get enough money to survive. The companies that sell our goods charge high prices to their customers, but they pay us very low wages. They don’t care about our health, safety, or dignity. They only care about their profits. We deserve better than this. We deserve to have a decent living standard, to have access to education and health care, and to have a voice in our workplaces. We are not machines. We are human beings”. Anonymous quote

Defining your photographic comfort zone

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One of the most important aspects of photography is finding your own style and voice. But how do you do that? How do you know what kind of photos you like to take and what kind of photos you are good at taking? One way to approach this question is by defining your photographic comfort zone.

Your photographic comfort zone is the range of subjects, situations, and techniques that you feel comfortable and confident with. It’s where you can express yourself freely and creatively, without feeling anxious or frustrated. It’s where you can enjoy the process of making images and have fun with your camera.

But how do you find your photographic comfort zone? Well, there is no definitive answer to that, as everyone’s comfort zone is different and personal. However, here are some possible steps that might help you:

  • Experiment with different genres and styles of photography. Try shooting landscapes, portraits, street, macro, wildlife, abstract, etc. See what appeals to you and what doesn’t. See what challenges you and what bores you. See what makes you happy and what makes you stressed.
  • Analyze your existing photos. Look at your portfolio and see if there are any patterns or themes that emerge. What kind of subjects do you tend to photograph the most? What kind of lighting do you prefer? What kind of colors do you use? What kind of mood or emotion do you convey? What kind of composition or perspective do you favor?
  • Ask for feedback. Show your photos to other people and see what they think. Ask them what they like and dislike about your photos. Ask them what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. Ask them what they think your style or voice is. Be open to constructive criticism and learn from it.
  • Challenge yourself. Once you have a sense of your photographic comfort zone, don’t be afraid to step out of it from time to time. Try something new or different that pushes you beyond your limits. Try a new technique or a new genre that you are not familiar with. Try a new location or a new subject that you are not comfortable with. Try to overcome your fears or insecurities and grow as a photographer.

Defining your photographic comfort zone can help you discover your own style and voice as a photographer. It can also help you improve your skills and expand your horizons. However, remember that your comfort zone is not fixed or static. It can change over time as you evolve as a photographer and as a person. So keep exploring, keep learning, and keep enjoying photography!

Ethical issues for street photographers.

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Street photography is a fascinating and rewarding genre of photography that captures candid moments of life in public spaces. However, street photography also poses some ethical challenges that require careful consideration and respect from the photographer. Here are some ethical issues for the street photographer to keep in mind:

  • Respect the privacy and dignity of the people you are photographing as much as possible. Even though you have the legal right to take photos in public spaces, you should also be mindful of how your photos might affect the people you are photographing. For example, you should avoid taking photos of people in vulnerable or embarrassing situations, such as homeless people, people with disabilities, or people who are grieving. You should also respect the wishes of people who do not want to be photographed and delete their photos if they ask you to do so.
  • Consider the power dynamics at play when taking photos. As a street photographer, you have the power to choose what to photograph, how to photograph it, and how to present it to the world. You should be aware of how your photos might reinforce or challenge stereotypes, biases, or prejudices about certain groups of people or places. You should also be aware of how your presence and actions might affect the people and environments you are photographing. For example, you should avoid being intrusive, aggressive, or disrespectful when taking photos, and you should not interfere with or endanger anyone’s safety or well-being.
  • Be culturally sensitive so as not to feed into stereotypes and biases. Street photography can be a great way to learn about and appreciate different cultures and lifestyles, but it can also be a source of misunderstanding and misrepresentation if done without cultural sensitivity. You should do some research and educate yourself about the places and people you are photographing, and try to understand their context and perspective. You should also avoid taking photos that might be considered offensive, disrespectful, or inappropriate by the local culture or norms.
  • Put the safety of the people you are photographing above the photograph. Street photography can sometimes involve taking risks or facing dangers, such as going to unfamiliar or unsafe places, encountering hostile or violent people, or breaking laws or rules. However, you should never put yourself or others in harm’s way for the sake of a photo. You should always prioritize your own safety and the safety of the people you are photographing over getting a shot. You should also be prepared for any possible consequences or repercussions of your actions.
  • Think about the risks and consequences of intrusive shooting before getting in someone’s face. Some street photographers prefer to shoot close-up and candidly, without asking for permission or notifying their subjects. This can result in striking and evocative images that capture raw emotions and expressions, but it can also result in unwanted confrontations, conflicts, or lawsuits. You should weigh the pros and cons of this approach before deciding to use it, and be ready to deal with any negative reactions or outcomes. You should also respect the personal space and boundaries of your subjects, and not invade their privacy or comfort.
  • Think about how you will use and share your photos. Street photography can have many purposes and audiences, such as artistic expression, social commentary, documentary evidence, or personal enjoyment. You should think about why you are taking photos and who you are taking them for before you use or share them. You should also consider how your photos might affect or influence others who see them. For example, you should obtain consent from your subjects if you plan to use their photos for commercial purposes, such as selling prints or licensing images. You should also respect the intellectual property rights of other photographers and not copy or steal their work.

Conflict Photography

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Conflict photography is a form of photojournalism that captures the human and environmental impact of wars, violence and social unrest. It is a challenging and rewarding profession that requires courage, skill and empathy. Conflict photographers aim to document the truth and raise awareness of the suffering and injustice that often goes unnoticed by the mainstream media. They also hope to inspire positive change and peace through their images.

Conflict photography is not for the faint-hearted. It involves working in dangerous and unpredictable situations, facing ethical dilemmas and coping with trauma. Conflict photographers need to have a strong sense of purpose and passion for their work, as well as respect for the people and places they photograph. They also need to have a keen eye for composition, lighting and storytelling, as well as a technical mastery of their equipment.

Conflict photography can have a powerful impact on the world. It can expose the horrors of war, human rights violations and environmental degradation. It can also show the resilience, dignity and hope of the people affected by conflict. It can educate, inform and inspire audiences to take action and make a difference. Conflict photography is more than just taking pictures; it is a way of bearing witness and making history.