Monk_The Bayon_Ankor Wat_Cambodia

Hasselblad 500C and Hasselblad 150mm Sonnar f4 lens with Kodak Professional Portra 160VC film

Hasselblad 500C and Hasselblad 150mm Sonnar f4 lens with Kodak Professional Portra 160VC film

Here's an old image from a trip to Cambodia in the 90's. I met this monk while photographing the Bayon, a part of the famous Angkor Wat complex near the town of Siem Reap. Apparently he was from a town around one hours drive from Angkor Wat, yet this was the first opportunity he'd had to visit the site. I asked him how he'd gotten the pockmark on his face. He answered with two words, "Pol Pot". Further questions revealed that a member of the Khmer Rouge had pushed a lit cigarette into his face when he was a young boy. The physical scare remains, as does the memory. Hopefully his Buddhist beliefs have helped the monk come to terms with the actions of his tormentor. Even the downtrodden have the power to forgive.

The original image was made on negative (print) film and scanned. By today's standards the scan is below par, so I'm treating this version has a rough proof. I plan to re-scan and reprint the image as part of a larger body of work on this beautiful country.

Even after all these years I remember well being drawn to the monk's eyes. His intense gaze was compelling and seemed to reveal a strong character, only partly veiled beneath the cloak of a religion that both celebrates and actively pursues peaceful existence. A very shallow Depth Of Field (DOF), achieved by shooting with my lens wide open to an aperture of f4, helped to isolate the monk from his surroundings, as did the use of the medium format Hasselblad 150mm lens (roughly equivalent to a 100mm lens on a full-frame DSLR camera). I feel the camera's square format provides an idea canvas onto which the line around the subject's body and head are drawn. The relatively tight composition further enhances the tension within the image.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Glenn GuyThe Bayon