Tourists visiting Siem Reap, Cambodia, will not fail to notice the little children there. (Siem Reap is better known for its Angkor Wat temple). You could see the children everywhere – in and around the temple, in the busy streets and side-walks, in the fields surrounding the cities and occasionally riding pillion behind their mother’s bikes.
Apart from my encounters with children in the popular tourist spots, I also had a great opportunity to interact with the little children of a small village called Dan Run in the outskirts of Siem Reap. I had gone there as part of a volunteer project to install bio-sand filters intended to provide villagers with clean drinking water.
Rabindranath Tagore once said that every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man. How true! The children’s innocent and excited looks and deep eyes seemingly harboring some unknown sadness were my main attractions in photographing them. Of course, not every child is the same so I did capture a range of emotions. Some had a happy and joyous spirit, some were brooding, while a few other children were calm, smug or just indifferent. In every house I visited in the village, I could not help observe that the children were like a mirror reflecting the lives of the people surrounding them.
I should make special mention of the street-smart and entrepreneurial kids, whom a tourist is most likely to encounter and guaranteed to be impressed with. Take the six-year old I met at the Angkor temple. He sold trinkets, post cards and memorabilia and harried everyone crossing his path, including me:
“..If you don’t want it, Sir, you can buy it for your wife”.
“If you don’t have change, I accept credit cards”
I bought some postcards in appreciation of his tenacity.
While photographing children, basic rules include getting down to their eye-levels (I usually squat down), not getting them to pose (let them be their natural self), being friendly, using natural light (no flash) and having a fast shutter speed (& high ISO if required). I just kept clicking, without wasting time or meddling with the settings. The rewards are immense, for every shot of a child is a delight!
What is your experience of photographing children?