Angkor Photo Festival 2017 – Sharing a love for photography

Southeast Asia's longest-running photo festival and contest is back for its 13th edition but with a new take on its format: A focus on education.

Angkor Photo Festival and Workshops
Angkor Photo Festival & Workshops - Crafting its own identity

There is a bountiful amount of photography festivals and workshops scattered around Southeast Asia, but there are 3 key reasons why the annual Angkor Photo Festival and Workshops held every December makes its claim as the most famous, most prestigious and most sought-after in the region.

Angkor Photo Festival & Workshops runs from December 3 – 12

For one, it is held in the magnificent city of Siem Reap where being surrounded by the ancient ruins of Angkor and the peaceful ambiance of the town are more than enough to keep participants and photo enthusiasts inspired.

Miyanzar Oo receives the Martin Adler Prize in London
Outstanding Alumni – Miyanzar Oo receives the Martin Adler Prize in London (Photo by Abigail Haworth / Twitter)

Secondly, the photo festival produces a lot of great talent. Just last October, seasoned photographer, Minzayar Oo of Myanmar received the highly celebrated Martin Adler prize at the Rory Peck Awards in London. Honoring a local freelancer who has made a significant contribution to newsgathering, it was the first time for a photographer to receive this distinction. Minzayar’s work was showcased at the 2015 edition of the Angkor Photo Festival – Unearthing Myanmar’s Mining Practices.

And finally, being the pioneer photo festival in Southeast Asia attracts hundreds of aspiring photographers who want to hone their craft, while at the same time seasoned and established photographers share their skills and knowledge to the participants. It has become a community for photographers from all over the world.

Focus on education

In many ways, this year’s edition of the festival is a special one as it comes full circle from where it started – going back to its roots. The past 12 editions have played a major role in developing the photography community. Now, the organizing committee have highlighted the importance of education as the heart and soul of the event. A new format is implemented that will allow more exposure and visibility to its ever-growing community of workshop alumni. And in the words of Jean-Yves Navel, founding member of the Angkor Photo Association, “As more festivals emerge in the world, our emphasis on education has become our main goal for this year. It’s now time to give a chance to our community’s creativity and professionalism.”

Workshop Alumni will now get to showcase their skills at the festival
Workshop Alumni will now get to showcase their skills at the festival

The 10-day event is packed with activities but can be summarized into 4 categories: the Angkor Photo Workshop, Alumni Projections, the 2017 Exhibition and the 2017 Activities.

Angkor Photo Workshop

The Angkor Photo Workshop is the tuition-free photography training that is provided to emerging photographers around Asia. The training is conducted by international professional photographers who volunteer their time and effort to mentor the participants. As a testament to its reputation, each year since its inception in 2005, many alumni have come back to become mentors themselves. The workshops count 32 participants this year, comprised of 16 nationalities and will be led by 7 international tutors. The work of all workshop participants is showcased as part of the festival’s Closing Night’s Projections Programme on December 12.

The importance of this workshop for each member cannot be stressed enough. For Shwe Wutt Hmon, being part of this year’s workshops is crucial to her development as a photographer because in her home country of Myanmar, there are no photographic institutions or any other photo learning environments. Most Burmese photographers are self-taught and are freelancers. The workshop will be an eye-opener for her as she looks forward to learn about photo editing, sequencing and reviewing. Meanwhile, from the other side of the globe, Anna Ivantsova of Russia states that the most important thing is to get inspiration – a key element for every creative; and this will be the best avenue because she will be able to interact with her co-participants and the seasoned experts. The enthusiastic photographer has already familiarized herself with all her peers’ photography websites and is now just counting the days to visit Siem Reap.

Angkor Photo Workshop in session
Angkor Photo Workshop in session

Alumni Projections

The 2017 Alumni Projections is the major change implemented this year. Instead of opening submissions from photographers from all over, the Angkor Photo Festival’s new format will now showcase the works of their alumni. A 2013 participant and winner of that year’s Photo Prize, Cambodian Neak Sophal says that the direction towards education is good, “All careers have to start with good education, the same for art or photography if you have good education about it you will reach your goal.” And indeed it is, as she will be a featured alumni by sharing her Flower Series which aims to raise awareness on gender issues in Khmer culture.

Neak Sophal - Flower
© Neak Sophal – Flower. On gender issues: “Men are like gold, women are like white cloth” Gold can be washed but white cloth will always have a stain.

Anjali Photo Workshops & Exhibition

This year’s spotlight will be on the children of the Anjali Photo Workshops with the theme, Cambodia: Our Vision. Similar to the Angkor Photo Workshop but established for the children of Anjali House, an NGO that provides food, shelter and education to nearly 125 underprivileged youth in Siem Reap. Photography will be an avenue for them to tell their own stories, devoid of social prejudices and will encourage self-esteem and self-discovery. Neak Sophal will be part of their tutoring team during this 10-day seminar and she is happy to connect with these Cambodian children, hoping that they will find what they like in photography. A selection of 25 photos will be selected and put on display during Children’s Day. Framed 40×50 photos will be sold for USD 60 and an Anjali Photo Book will go for USD 20, the proceeds of which will be donated to the Anjali House.

Children of the Anjali House are given digital cameras to photograph their lives, friends, families and anything that catches their interest
Children of the Anjali House are given digital cameras to photograph their lives, friends, families and anything that catches their interest.

2017 Activities

The 2017 Activities are composed of Afternoon Sessions which are casual and informal platforms for visitors and photographers to interact; Portfolio Reviews are conducted by experienced professionals and industry leaders who do one-on-one reviews of people’s work for free! There will also be a cocktail night with the Angkor Photo family and the Closing Night will feature a charity raffle.

The Angkor Photo Festival is truly an occasion that should not be missed and everyone is encouraged to partake in each day’s events. The 2017 edition promises something new and gives everyone the chance to be a part of not only something local but a global movement as well.

Another alumni Peera Vorapreechapanich says it best, “I think Angkor Photo Festival is a great, friendly space for sharing and learning about photography, no matter who you are: photographer, editor or visitor. I love the vibe of the event!”

Peera Vorapreechapanic - Message to the Green Tea God
© Peera Vorapreechapanic – Message to the Green Tea God: “I would like to present unique characteristics of Thai people, a great creativity and the Sense of humor, especially in the online world.”

Exhibitions & events schedule

December 5 (Tuesday)

  • 7:30PM – Cambodia: Our Vision – Exhibition Opening at The Republic Bar & Kitchen

December 8 (Friday)

  • 8:00PM – Alumni evening projection at The Village Cafe

December 9 (Saturday)

  • 2:00PM – Afternoon sessions (Wawi Navarozza and Victoria Dennese) at The Brothers
  • 7:30PM – Guest curator Wawi Navarozza evening projection at Bambu Stage

December 10 (Sunday)

  • 10:30AM – Portfolio reviews at The Brothers
  • 4:00PM – Children’s Day at The Republic Bar and Kitchen
  • 6:30PM – Children’s Day evening projection (Cambodia: Our Vision) at The Republic Bar and Kitchen
  • 9:00PM – Evening hangout at One Eleven Gallery

December 11 (Monday)

  • 10:30AM – Portfolio reviews at The Brothers
  • 8:00PM – Guest curator Anshika Varma “Anthropocenic Mindscapes” evening projection at Bambu Stage

December 12 (Tuesday)

  • 10:30AM – Portfolio reviews at The Brothers
  • 2:30PM – Afternoon sessions – Sohrab Hura at The Brothers
  • 8:00PM – Closing event: Professional workshop projection at The Republic Bar & Kitchen

For more information on the 13th Angkor Photo Festival & Workshops including details on the tutors, event projections and sponsors, you may visit their official event page:

Innocence: A Street Photography Exhibition

Meanwhile, co-celebrating this momentous event is Innocence: A Street Photography Exhibition which will run from November 17 to December 13 at the newly opened cafe / studio & art space Mirage Collective. This event aims to promote the emerging Khmer photography and art scene through actual physical copies of photographs. Participants will also help out the local community, as a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a local NGO that supports Siem Reap-based artists.

"Innocence" A Street Photography Exhibition
“Innocence” A Street Photography Exhibition Promotional Poster