maandag 21 april 2014

“Can’t Go Wrong Here” by Michael Klinkhamer

Dutch photographer Michael Klinkhamer was exhibiting his photo series “Can’t Go Wrong Here” at the famous Cambodian FCC-restaurant in Phnom Penh, from 29-February until 29 April 2014. The photo show featured a series of photographs he made during the Cambodia Photo Tours and workshops, he was conducting throughout Phnom Penh from August 2013 until February 2014. All prints are made by the artist and printed on a the Canon Pixma Pro-1 on Canon Matte A3 fine art papers. For more information about the ongoing workshops and photo courses you can enter:  Michael Klinkhamer is a professional photographer with over 25 years of experience. He is permanently based in Phnom Penh and organizes workshops and photo safari around Cambodia for photographers from around the world, who like to just learn the basics or improve their photography skills, in-depth while travelling the "Kingdom of Wonders",  Check out the newest custom tour/workshops program for photo treks and adventure-luxury photo tours available for 2014.  
All images of the exhibition are available for purchase, some 1/50 prints have been sold but with a limited edition of 50 pieces per image, you are still able to find your preferred image available for purchase. Contact Klinkhamer directly by phone +85560873847 or by e-mail: Prices range form $150 to $200 per print. 
Please enjoy the Images below from "Can't Go Wrong Here" by Michael Klinkhamer Photography.

maandag 10 maart 2014

“Can’t Go Wrong Here” Interview with Michael Klinkhamer in Phnom Penh.

Dutch photographer Michael Klinkhamer will be exhibiting his photo series “Can’t Go Wrong Here” at FCC Phnom Penh. The show will feature a series of photographs he has taken during the Cambodia Photo Tour Klinkhamer is conducting throughout Phnom Penh over the last 6 months. Klinkhamer is a professional photographer with over 25 years of experience. He is permanently based in Phnom Penh, and we met at the FCC Phnom Penh to discuss his experiences and travels, and how he wound up pursuing his photography and workshop teaching passion in Phnom Penh.


Thanks for stopping by! So, how did you first get involved with photography?

I started doing photography while traveling as a young man of 20 years old. I went to America, my first big tour. I bought a camera and pretty soon I was publishing my images in magazines. Eventually I started traveling in Asia. At that time I was already doing professional photography in Amsterdam, mainly studio work and made a good living, but needed to explore the world more. Asia was my second big trip. I went to Sri Lanka and Sumatra and then to Java and Bali around 1983. I started to take pictures with a Nikon FM2 with 2 or 3 lenses, using Kodachrome color film and Tri-X Black and white film of course. I did some really good photographs of people then. I ended up in Australia selling those pictures. Somehow there was a quality to it. Those kinds of pictures are more or less the same as I do now, to be honest. The same interaction of people I meet on the streets. Market people, monks, landscapes and stills.

What happened after the trip to Asia?

I went back to Europe after this tour and started working in magazine photography, shooting for high profile glossy publications in Holland, specifically on current affairs, arts and also business publications-annual reports, doing portraits of CEO’s. At some time I was asked by to photograph for the Dutch automotive industry, shooting portraits of designers, executives, the latest cars, Porsche, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, etc. It was a photographer’s dream, at that time. You’re traveling in luxury on other people’s expenses. It’s like working in fashion.  You are under pressure and supposed to get the job done at the highest level.
In 2006 it was time for change. I started writing feature articles and for example on architects. Like, architect Daniel Libeskind in N.Y.C (Freedom Tower) and also on the provocative CCTV building by Rem Koolhaas in Beijing-China. In 2008, the Olympics were about to happen. So, I went there a few months before the Olympic games started to photograph the new architecture and general atmosphere in Beijing this time on assignment for Nikon-Pro their international magazine. A great showcase!
At the same time I am intrigued by the spiritual connotations in a lot of the scenes you find in Asia. Simple natural things, like flowers and leafs, stark images, strong graphics, which are always so beautiful to look at, they give you peace of mind. Some press photographers photograph emotionally strong and emotionally upsetting things. Maybe as a counter to that, I’ll photograph something that’s just really pleasing to look at. When you put a fine art print on your wall it will respond to your feelings for many times and might reflect your feelings. I call them ‘Moodimages.’

But you didn’t stay in China, did you?

My next venture was in Hawaii. As you get older things change in your personal life. It was always a dream for me to work in the Pacific. Asia, Bali, Indonesia . . . there’s a lot of reminiscences to the Pacific. Hawaii is such a strong, natural place to be. I was very lucky working as a volunteer at a retreat center, where people mostly did yoga and meditation and photography workshops and Hula dancing. It opened up my mind, the feelings of another way of living. I’ve found that here, too, actually, in Cambodia. That’s where I started to think about teaching and doing photo workshops.

When did Cambodia enter the picture?

I came here in December 2010 to do an assignment on a famous Dutch painter living in Phnom Penh, Peter Klashorst. I published a feature article and pictures on him for a magazine. He was working on his exhibition for the S-21 prison museum doing monumental paintings on the victims of the Khmer Rouge. I was supposed to be here just for that interview, for a couple days, but I ended up living here ever since.
I like this place, the people, the atmosphere, to work here as a photographer and writer, you can’t go wrong! And then also eventually in the back of my mind that good idea kept coming up, to do photography workshops and photo tours here. So that’s why I started Cambodia Photo tours and Workshops by klinkphoto six months ago.

So what’s the current situation?

Setting up a photo workshop business, even though I don’t like the word “business,” is different. You’re helping and teaching people make the best out of their time and camera. They understand I am a professional photographer, they check my web site, blog and my work. They want to learn from a publishing and accredited photographer. I’m locally connected and know the place. They trust that I can take them to places they cannot find themselves. Two things I provide to them: mostly they don’t know how to operate their Camera and lenses, get the right settings and use the camera at its fullest. And also how to approach people and make a connection and walk away with a great image. I understand this and I explain how to do this and feel comfortable, while shooting. To know the camera, to feel confident, and to just ask to do a picture or just take it when it appears without hesitation.
At Cambodia Photo Tours and workshops we do some camera handling theory and after that we go out shooting and putting it all to the test. It is walking tour, with a tuk-tuks on stand-by. I sometimes point out to the beauty of things. A lot of people are very keen photographers. I give them some new tools they can put that to practice immediately.
Recently I’ve started to do a “slum tour.” There is a demand for this, it gives people something to think about and it is a reality here, so why not. I’m a little hesitant but I’ve done it a few times. It’s very confronting but also heartwarming. The air is filled with the smell of burning plastic, your feet are covered with dust, but the warm and welcoming intensity of the people makes you forget the hard impression. Of course your pictures are telling a different story. And I hope this brings awareness to the people and also to others that see them on Facebook or on their blogs. It is photo journalism on a level of social media. Everybody is a journalist these days after all.

Talk about your relation with the FCC?

When I was setting up the Cambodia photo tours and workshop, I needed a headquarters and meeting place. I talked to the FCC people and they were very welcoming for it.  Some folks come for lunch and follow my half day tour or we end the tout at FCC for happy hour and sit around to tell stories. There is also off course the historical press connection/connotation. There’s the photographic and journalistic history. So meeting at this colonial building, is already a pleasure. The service is good, the hospitality is great. If we have a group we use a separate room, in the restaurant, in the back almost like a classroom. I’m very grateful I can use it. It is a win-win situation. FCC is a landmark. If people ask, “Where are you located?” And I say at FCC, everyone knows where that is. “You can’t go wrong.”

Phnom Penh Post weekend 7days from 28-02-2014 publication.

And what about the exhibit “You can’t go wrong here”?

The title of the exhibition is an expression, I use often here in Cambodia during photo sessions. You really can take beautiful pictures here and there are great images everywhere. It’s a photographer’s dream to shoot here. It has to do with the wonderful friendly warm people, and the unique landscape. It works just beautiful. Cambodians are open, they might look serious at first, but when you smile they respond with joy. Khmer people are very open to new all things, new people, in what you have to tell them, what you can give them, and they like to hang out with you. Here, taking pictures are like breathing.
The exhibition pictures I’ve chosen are a special collection. They express the beauty and sincerity of the people here. Mostly the photographs show the beauty of the place, the colorfulness, and the stark black and white. There are surprising moments. There are things that only happen once before my camera.
All the pictures are from the past 6 months and all are from around Phnom Penh. These are images I’ve taken while conducting the photo tour. As I mentioned it’s a special collection of 35 pictures for sale. Prices are from $150 unframed to $200 framed. This show is my expression of gratitude for the opportunity to do my tours with travelers and people from a lot of nationalities visiting Phnom Penh and a big Awkoon to the Khmers in the images. It also proves that you can do pictures like this too. So join me next time and bring your own camera! Thank you!
You can learn more about Michael Klinkhame by visiting and Cambodia Photo Tours by klinkphoto is hosting 1/2 day (from 1:30 pm) and full day tours and workshops (from 9:30am) meeting from the FCC daily.

zaterdag 8 februari 2014

Khmer Rouge photographer Nhem Enh: "The Blind Photographer"

Words & Photography: Michael Klinkhamer. Original S-21 Photography by Khemr Rouge Photographer Nhem Enh.
First Published in  THE BIG ISSUE-AUSTRALIA.

ABOUT: A lot of photojounalists are genuinely interested in their fellow humans and hope to open people’s eyes through their work. But there are also photographers who just do their job and have no compassion with the people they portray. Michael Klinkhamer talked to Nhem Enh, a former photographer for the Khmer Rouge. It was his job to portray the prisoners in the infamous S-21 prison in Cambodia. These pictures were never intended to be published and had no journalistic purpose but turned out to form a impressive document of ‘la sale guerre’ (dirty war) and are now on permanent display at the S-21 genocide museum in Phnom Penh.

QUOTE: “I was eleven years old when the revolution started in 1971 in our village. When I was 15, I got a machinegun and I was a young soldier in the revolutionary army.”

Photography is an important medium for reporting and recording of history. Sometimes, photography can even influence history; two pictures in particular, both embedded in our collective memory, contributed to ending the war in Vietnam: Nick Ut's picture of a young naked girl fleeing her village after a napalm attack, and Eddie Adams' shot of police chief General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Vietcong prisoner, Nguyen Van Lém, on a Saigon street.  Many photoreporters chose their field of work because it's exciting and because they're good at it, but most of all they're sincerely interested in their fellow men and hope their work will open the eyes of the general public to tell by their images what's going on around them.
Sometimes though, you come across images taken by photographers who had no form of compassion with the people they photographed. Pictures that were not intended to change the world. The portraits created at the notorious S-21 prison in Cambodia are cold. They were not meant for the outside world and are made without any journalistic intent. Yet, some 35 years after they were shot, these pictures have become an important part of an impressive document and a visual evidence of the Khmer Rouge's dirty war.
Between 1976 and 1979 Nhem Enh worked as a photographer in the former school building Tuol Svay Pray, during the Khmer Rouge period converted into a prison and interrogation center known as Security 21 (S-21). While based there, he photographed more than 15,000 people. Cambodians who, after being photographed, were interrogated, tortured and killed. Of all portrayed prisoners only seven survived.
Nhem Enh's 'mugshots' are now on a permanent display at the Tuol Sleng genocide museum in Phnom Penh.
Michael Klinkhamer visited Tuol Sleng genocide museum and meets eye to eye with the 'blind photographer' Nhem Enh, now 51.

After having persuaded Nhem Enh to travel to the Cambodian capital, I meet him at his hotel. He brought some photos and the actual cameras he used at the time. They're all neatly arranged on the bed, an old Rolleicord and a very well preserved Yashika.

Sitting on his bed, surrounded by the memorablia from those turbulent and horrible times, Nhem Enh makes a kind of lost impression.
But it turns out he's strangely unfazed. He looks at me with friendly eyes and a boyish smile, laughs and speaks rapidly in Khmer, a language I can not understand. Through my interpreter I invite him to visit the exhibition at the S-21 museum with me and to do our interview and photoshoot at the museum.
And so we're off to the crime-scene for a peaceful interrogation and a picture shoot.

Q: How old were you during the Khmer Rouge period?
Nhem Enh: "I was eleven years old. In 1971 the revolution came to our village. When I was fifteen I joined the army and was carrying a machine-gun. Because I was very disciplined and had high moral, I was selected to study cartography and photography in China. I went there in 1975."

Q: What kind of photos did you make when you returned to Cambodia?
Nhem Enh: I worked for the party and photographed all events, meetings of our leaders like Pol Pot and many other news events, all for our newspaper of the revolution. I took more than two million photographs, and I still have thousands of photos and negatives in my possession."

Q: When did you come to the capital Phnom Penh?
Nhem Enh: "About a month after our army had liberated Phnom Penh, I was instructed to take pictures at the S-21 prison.
The city was still being depopulated. Two million people were ordered by "Angkar" (the organization) to leave town to work elsewhere. And I was assigned to photograph the "enemies of Angkar."

Q:  How did you go about that?
Nhem Enh: "Each prisoner was given a number and was registered on a list. I told them to look straight into the camera. No head turning or looking away, or the picture would not be suitable. The prisoners often had children with them. I also took pictures of their children. For our archive.
I used several cameras - the Rolleicord and Yashica .... and also a Canon. I used flash, and worked with a permanent set-up.
I also had to photograph many prisoners elsewhere in S-21, where large groups were locked in ankle shackles. Or if a prisoner had died already."

Q: Did the prisoners know that they would be killed?
Nhem Enh: "After the arrest the men were brought in with their hands tied behind their backs and blindfolded. I took their blindfolds off, but left their hands tied. Many were crying, shouting, 'why? what have I done? I am innocent!' Some laughed a little or were confused. I could not help them and told them nothing. I had to work quickly and well. I never talked with the prisoners. That was not allowed. I had to make sharp and clear pictures and register everybody correctly. Yes, they all knew they were going to die."

Q: Who was your superior and did he check if you did your work properly?
Nhem Enh: "The commander of S-21 was Kang Keck, alias Duch. He oversaw my work and made it clear everyday that life hung by a thread. If Duch didn't like your work it meant severe punishment or death. But to me he was friendly and even gave me a golden Rolex watch."

Q: Duch was convicted of war crimes and is serving a life sentence now. How do you feel about that?
Nhem Enh: "I do not think it is right or wrong. It is another time now and we have to live with what has happened. He is locked up now, but I don't think that is necessary."

Q: But he was very cruel and murdered and tortured many people...
Nhem Enh: "He was very well respected and correct and I think it is no longer necessary to keep him locked up."

Q: If you think of all those people who were in front of your camera, what would you say to them now if you could? Do you feel any pity or remorse?
Nhem Enh: "I have nothing to say to them. In those days we had to obey our leaders and follow their orders.”

"Year Zero"

After five years of bloody civil war, the Khmer Rouge marched into Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, on 17 April 1975. There was no resistance from government forces and the whole city, its population swollen by refugees from the fighting along the Cambodian-Vietnam border, was relieved that peace had come at last.
That relief was short-lived. On the pretext that they were expecting the USA to bomb Phnom Penh, the Khmer Rouge forced the whole population to evacuate the city on foot. Those who refused were shot, as were hospital patients and anyone else who was unable to walk.
The same thing happened in all other cities in Cambodia and the whole country was effectively turned into a vast forced labour camp. Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge, was achieving his dream of Year Zero, the return of Cambodia to a peasant economy in which there would be no class divisions, no money, no books, no schools, no hospitals. Religion was banned in the constitution of January 1976.

"Security Office 21"

In May 1976 the Khmer Rouge established 'Security Office 21' (S-21) in a former high school at Tuol Sleng in Phnom Penh. The purpose of S-21 was the interrogation and extermination of those opposed to 'Angkar' (the organisation), which is what the Khmer Rouge regime called itself.
There may have been as many as 150 other centres at least the size of S-21 where more than 500,000 Cambodians were tortured and executed.
Hundreds of children between the ages of 12 and 17 were rounded up from poor families in the countryside to serve as "special and honest security guards" at S-21.
Although the vast majority of prisoners interrogated and executed at S-21 were Cambodians, other victims were of Vietnamese, Laotian, Thai, Indian, Pakistani, British, United States, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian nationalities.
Those who died at S-21 were taken to the "Killing Fields" named in khmer  Choeung Ek, outside Phnom Penh, to be buried in mass graves. Inmates of S-21 who survived interrogation were taken to Choeung Ek for execution. The burial ground is now a memorial to those who perished under the Khmer Rouge.
Today Tuol Sleng is a museum of genocide, displaying prison cells, torture instruments, photographs of the victims, and paintings of some of the atrocities perpetrated at S-21.


© Michael Klinkhamer-Phnom Penh, 2014