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Case studies - Thailand/Cambodia, 2013
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Working in photography is, of course, a great pleasure. But as many photographers' careers progress, their work becomes increasingly commercialised, restricting opportunities for the types of work that initially inspired them. So it was a pleasure for Mike to travel around Cambodia and Thailand in late 2013, documenting life in urban and rural areas alike and capturing a sense of the atmosphere - as well as the geography - of the area.
Beginning in Bangkok, Mike photographed cityscapes and traffic scenes, evoking the sheer scale and the vibrant nightlife of the city with its high-rise buildings and its bright lights, stretching as far as the eye can see. In addition to this, he photographed the human side of life in such an enormous city, with an image of a cyclist wearing a mask to filter the heavily polluted Bangkok air.
In stark contrast to these urban images, Mike travelled to Siem Reap. Siem Reap itself is a vibrant town, with the enormous Angkor Wat, a Buddhist temple, a major tourist attraction. Mike's main interest, however, was in the villages in which thousands of people live, their homes floating on the Siem Reap river. Mike's images capture different atmospheres here, with children at play alongside families working together, all against a vibrant background at odds with the relatively tranquil surrounding. It's a fascinating way of life.
From there, Mike travelled to Phnom Penh where he photographed Khmer dancers in performance. Although their costumes vary, these dancers are most recognisable in their traditional dress, so Mike has chosen this image for this collection.
Most interesting, though, is the way in which Mike portrays a sense of optimism in these photographs. A sense of community is palpable in the floating villages of Siem Reap, with children enjoying themselves in a carefree fashion and adults congregating apparently at ease. Through Mike's lens, Cambodia looks like a terrific way of life.
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