I don't know how it happened...I spent 18 days shooting in Cambodia and somehow on the very last day of photographing magic struck.....continuously. Don't get me wrong, the 17 days prior were amazing and I had many wonderful experiences. But on that last day, Zee and I finally gelled and every encounter was a rich and powerful one...it was as if the universe was determined to show me all of Cambodia's beauty in one day. I spent 17 days slowly and surely falling in love with Cambodia...but on that 18th day the universe made for damn sure that I was truly committed to my love for the people and the country.
One of the stops we made on our last day of shooting in Cambodia was at a Cham village. The 1 hour stop over left me with a wealth of stories. Seriously,.....every encounter had and every image photographed in that one hour was....."amazing". I can't pick a favorite but I have to say that the story below and the images above touched my heart the most.
I was walking by a home when I spotted this half smiling grandma in the doorway. The nurse in me noted the asymmetry in her face and I remember thinking that she must either have Bell's Palsy or had a stroke. Regardless, that didn't stop her from conveying her joy in life. I asked if I could take a picture and she nodded at me, the left side of her mouth pulling up higher, a smile of approval. I snapped a few images and thought the encounter would end there. But no...that wasn't it. She gestured at me and said something. When I asked for a friend to translate I learnt she was inviting me into her home to meet her new grandson...born just a few hours previously........You can see him sheltered under the pink cover in the background of the shot above. My heart just bursts when I think about it. How generous a person to invite a stranger to share in a family's joy! It was beautiful! He was beautiful!
The 10 - 15 minutes I spent in that family's home felt like a lifetime and I will forever be grateful for the joy they shared with me. If Cambodia hadn't already spent days reminding me that life can be a beautiful, generous and wonderful experience, I'm sure the time spent with this family and their new addition would have done it for me.