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Flowers in the Dirt

Flowers in Dirt is a series of portraits of underprivileged children that I photographed in Cambodia. My aim is to show the potential of these children and look reality in the eyes.

#1 Boy playing in the dirt in Phnom Penh-Cambodia

I passed by, he looked at me surprised. I got this picture before he knew it. Dirty smudges on his face, dirt, and garbage around him everywhere.

boy playing in the dirt in Phnom Penh in Cambodia
#1 Boy playing in the dirt in Phnom Penh-Cambodia. ©Michael Klinkhamer

It’s just a kid playing but what a face! What is the story here? Who is the boy? Is this neglect or just playing? Poverty yes, most definitely but that is also the harsh reality of Cambodia.

Those eyes, and mouth such perfection! A sublime flower in the dirt. I look at what’s around me and notice the beauty and ugliness sometimes in a strong distilled way, like here. Many facets are here to be seen, beauty and dirt, hard and warm. I believe those opposite elements make often a good photograph.

I can see here also the famous ‘gypsy boy’ painting. This is my photographic homage to that famous kitsch painting.

On a deeper level, I believe the potential of each individual child is amazing. Who decides which ones may blossom and get a real change in life…or stay down and suffer? Shouldn’t every child in 2020 have an equal opportunity?

Child labor in 2020 is still happening in most parts of the world in Africa, India, and Asia.

#2 Just another brick in the wall, child labour and no education.

This brave boy is working for a stone brick factory in Cambodia. Complete family’s work there under hardship conditions. Often deeply in debt by loans to their employer. Locked into an endless circle of modern slavery.

#2 Just another brick in the wall, child labour and no education.
#2 Just another brick in the wall, child labour and no education. ©Michael Klinkhamer

This boy is fighting to survive and doing a grown man’s job, while his small body is undernourished and not fully developed. A little smile, his muscles overworked, one eye closed because of the weight of the bricks.

Children’s rights are still violated because families have to survive in poverty. Their governments rake in millions of dollars to combat children’s labor but use often those funds to have other priorities.

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Michael Klinkhamer is a Dutch photographer and journalist working mostly in Asia for the last 10 years. Michael lived permanently in Cambodia since 2013 and is now during Covid- available back for assignments in Amsterdam-Netherlands.

Contact me: Michael Klinkhamer Productions.

klinkhamerphoto@gmail.com
mobile: +31 6 86304151