Student photographers turn lens on Cambodia

Images from a testimonial therapy session of survivors of the Khmer Rouge with TPO Transcultural Psychosocial Orgainisation

Griffith photography, film and journalism students recently traveled to Cambodia for a three-week study tour, spending time on assignment with local NGOs to capture some of the country’s untold stories.

The tour involved workshops by Nobel Prize Laureate John Rodsted, followed by intensive storytelling projects which gave students the opportunity to work in local communities.

Queensland College of Art Senior Lecturer in Photography, Dr Heather Faulkner, said the study tour was designed to help students enhance their documentary storytelling skills.

“They are charged with making their own connections with local NGOs in Cambodia and documenting their work,” she said.

“Students work in small teams to produce stories through text, photo and video, which are published when they return.

“This is our fifth trip to Cambodia, and we keep going back because the students get so much out of it.”

Bachelor of Photography student Joshua Prieto said he relished the opportunity to get off the tourist trail and delve deeper into life in Cambodia.

Joshua has embraced the global mobility opportunities offered by the Queensland College of Art, travelling to Nepal and touring western Queensland to further his education outside the classroom.

“It forces you to push yourself outside your comfort zone, and you learn to thrive on it,” he said.

“My technical skills have improved out of sight, and it was amazing to be working side by side with journalism students and filmmakers from GFS.

“It is a very worthwhile experience, regardless of your destination.”

Joshua worked with several different NGOs during his time in Cambodia – from documenting the rehabilitation of animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade with the Wildlife Alliance  to keeping up with the wheelchair basketball players from XLability  and spending time with survivors of the Khmer Rouge as part of a Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation (TPO) project.

“Seeing the amazing work the NGOs do in Cambodia, and the bravery and grace of the people there was a life changing experience,” he said.

“It confirmed my decision to pursue photojournalism after graduation.

“They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and it is amazing how much you can capture with one powerful image.”

Bachelor of Photography graduate Miriam Deprez is a veteran of the 2016 Cambodia In-Field. She is currently completing an Honours degree – documenting mine clearance efforts in the Solomon Islands, where she is working with John Rodsted.

“My experience on the Cambodia trip made me determined to get out there and dig deeper into the stories that are right on our doorstep,” she said.

“This region is a treasure trove of beautiful, engaging stories that aren’t being told.”

The student work from the Cambodia In-Field trip will be exhibited at the Webb Gallery at the Queensland College of Art, South Bank until 3 March.

Photos from the trip are on Instagram at #QCA_documenting_cambodia.