Thursday, May 16, 2013
Earlier this year, I spent six weeks in Cambodia. I was there to teach photography on a Fulbright Scholarship, but also had plenty of free time to shoot on my own. The first event I photographed was a wedding--pretty ironic for a wedding photographer on vacation!
I was invited to the wedding by a friend of my interpreter. The event was held in a local village outside Phnom Penh, next to a Buddhist temple, in a tent straddling the entrance road. This meant that anyone coming in or out of the village had to walk – or more often ride their motorbike – through the wedding tent! A pretty funny set up, but also pretty common as I saw later at other weddings.
Not being the official photographer meant I was free to photograph whatever I wanted, or alternatively knock back a few Anchor beers with my new friends (it was a hot day!) I particularly enjoyed photographing the caterers in their make shift kitchen. The official photographer and videographer were also fun to watch. They were very much in charge, definitely not adherents to the “fly on the wall” philosophy. We didn’t have a common language, but we did do a lot of looking at images on the back of the cameras and giving thumbs up.
The wedding was Buddhist, meaning lots of colorful offerings of everything from bananas to cigarettes, and the even more colorful presence of orange robed monks. Later in the evening, a band showed up with the requisite earsplitting and distorted third world loudspeakers. The Cambodian (Khmer) dancing began once everyone had their fill of Anchor beer, and consisted of sort of prancing around in a circle while waving their hands around (if you’ve ever seen Cambodian ballet, the way the Apsara dancers “dance” with their hands is incredibly beautiful and graceful. This was not that).
When some of the men at the wedding started weaving my way and tried pulling me into the dancing, I knew it was time to go. It had been a long fun day, and I longed for my bed and the air conditioner hanging above it.
A village dog wandered in to check out the entertainment at the reception.
Tired catering staff.
One of the guests gets up for a little karaoke.
Having some snacks and Anchor beer between the ceremony and reception.