maandag 1 september 2014

MONK DANCE in Cambodia by Michael Klinkhamer

MONK DANCE in Cambodia.
Text and Photography by Michael Klinkhamer in Cambodia.
Before monks prepare themselves to leave their pagodas and venture out into the city, a remarkable – almost dance-like – performance unfolds with steady, practiced body movements.  Quickly and securely, the monks cocoon themselves within their robes and emerge a couple of seconds later, looking the part: multilayered and beautiful, timeless, expressing an outer worldliness kind of dignity. Photographer Michael Klinkhamer was welcomed into the Areyaksat pagoda in Phnom Penh to get up close while a young monk was getting himself all wrapped up, ready to step out into the material world.

You see them everywhere in Phnom Penh: Buddhist monks striding along solo, or together in colourful groups through the busy streets. From early in the mornings, collecting donations and food, until later in the day before sunset when they find their way around town for some additional study or teaching, or spend some time relaxing along the Phnom Penh riverside.
The flowing robes worn by these ubiquitous monks – in saffron shades ranging from bright yellow to blazing orange to deep, dark red paprika or a stylish maroon – are part of a 2,500-year-old tradition that dates back to the days of Buddha himself, whose very first monks wore robes patched together from rags. As the number of his disciples grew, Buddha devised a few regulations about their robes, all of which were recorded into the Vinayap-pitaka, one of three Buddhist scriptures that together comprise the Tripitaka (its primary subject matter: monastic rules for monks and nuns).
In those early beginnings, Buddha instructed his disciples to scavenge for rags from rubbish heaps; to find useless cloth that had been chewed by rats or oxen, scorched by fire, soiled by childbirth or menstrual blood, or used as a shroud to wrap the dead before cremation.
Any part of the cloth that was unusable was trimmed away, with the remaining cloth ‘purified’ by being boiled and dyed. Bark, flowers, leaves and spices such as turmeric or saffron gave the cloth its distinctive saffron colour.
Nowadays, ‘modern’ monks can simply visit the local markets, where robes are for sale for about $25. They are free to choose a shade that fits their mood or desire for personal expression. There is no real ranking, rule or status that dictates the kind of colour they wear. Young novices are typically dressed in yellow or bright orange robes, while a pagoda master monk might choose a more modest shade such as cumin or saffron (in all, there are six colours to choose from). During the annual water festival celebrations here in Cambodia, many are gifted new robes by their local communities.

·       A Theravada Buddhist robe is called sbang cheypor in Khmer
·       The sbang is used to cover the upper legs; the cheypor is used to cover the torso
·       The krang cheypor is the part that allows the right shoulder and arm to be uncovered
·       Buddha designed a piece of cloth called the antaravaska, measuring about six feet by nine feet, that wraps around the torso, sometimes folded and draped over the shoulder
·       According to the Vinaya-pitaka, Buddha asked his chief attendant Ananda to design a rice paddy pattern for the robes, so Ananda sewed strips of cloth representing rice paddies into a pattern separated by narrower strips to represent paths or waterways
·       To this day, many of the garments worn by monks are made of strips of cloth sewn together in this pattern, often a five-column pattern of strips, or sometimes seven or nine strips
·       In the Zen tradition, the pattern is said to represent a ‘formless field of benefaction’; it might also be thought of as a mandala representing the world
·       An under dress, these days held together with modern zippers with a couple of handy pouches for personal belongings, is called ahangsak and is mostly worn during work activities in the pagoda
·       Khlum cheypor is the way to dress when leaving the pagoda and covers all upper body parts, including arms and hands
·       An additional cloth, ben bat, is used to cover the body while collecting daily food offerings from private homes or local businesses around town
·       A wide ribbon, called wathapun, ties the whole outfit tight
·       To hold the cheypor together, monks use a woven rope belt, called ottarkhot
·       In cold weather or strong sunshine, a sangadey – folded many times – is draped over the bare shoulder by way of protection.

zondag 15 juni 2014

Exhibition By Dutch Photographer Michael Klinkhamer: Pure Thomacheat.

Exhibition By Dutch Photographer Delves Into Cambodia’s Fragile Natural World
BY  | JUNE 15, 2014

Photographer Michael Klinkhamer’s latest exhibition, “Pure Thomacheat,” is a reminder of the fragile natural world that is often overlooked by the inhabitants of cities such as Phnom Penh.
“In the cities with people rushing to get more money and more business, the power of nature the power of flowers…subsequently they’re suffering from our environmental impact and it’s very delicate, the secret life of plants,” he said, speaking at his exhibition this week. 

The 15 photos, which went on display at the InterContinental Phnom Penh’s Insider Gallery on May 29, bring us a step closer to this “secret life.” Blown up to poster size, they reveal the delicate form, the birth and decay and ultimately the power of Cambodia’s natural world.
Describing them as “mood images” the Dutch photographer hopes that they provide the viewer with an escape from the troubles of their day-to-day life.
In contrast to Mr. Klinkhamer’s last exhibition, “Can’t Go Wrong Here,” (February 2014), which featured photographs of people that live in Phnom Penh,  “Pure Thomacheat” has only one photo featuring a person.
The photo “Boy” depicts a young child staring intensely from behind a lotus leaf. Mr. Klinkhamer explained that this “is [the] essential photograph of the exhibition because the boy is pure. The leaf in front of him…there is a heart shape feel to it. It brings things together, humanity and nature as one.”

By stripping away the color from flowers and plants, the next few photographs in the series illuminate the delicate intricacy of nature’s form. The contrast of rotting leaves next to flowers yet to blossom is described by the photographer as an example of the “circle of life.”
This constant renewal is not unique to nature. “You have both the young and the old and I think that is an integral part of the Buddhist religion too and the way people live here,” he said.

The majority of the photos were taken within Phnom Penh, though there are some that were taken in the provinces. Using a vivid filter, the photographer brings out the sun’s powerful energy in “Synthese,” and the contrast of water droplets in “Tears In The Rain.”  The last photo in the exhibition shows a multi-colored waterfall; taken in Pailin province it is entitled “Source” and represents both the beginning and the end of the life cycle.

Having witnessed the environmental destruction in Pailin caused by extensive logging, the photographer hopes that his exhibition will show people that Cambodia’s nature is at risk of being lost. “The message [is] keep looking at the details, keep looking at the beauty of [nature] and remember it’s very sacred and very fragile, take care of it and don’t destroy it.”
“Pure Thomacheat” is on display at the InterContinental Phnom Penh’s Insider Gallery through June 28, 2014.
© 2014, The Cambodia DailyAll rights reserved.

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.