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I first visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in , where I stumbled across a young street-prostitute prospecting along the Mekong River. I became struck and ultimately haunted by the look of despair and desolation in her eyes.
I returned home to Sydney, Australia, and did research on sex slavery in Phnom Penh. Prior to returning I emailed two of the largest NGOs in the region for some advice, but frustratingly received no reply, so further down the rabbit hole I dived. I wrote down the names of the infamous areas of Phnom Penh and upon arriving in Phnom Penh I got on the back of a motor bike of a friend and told her to take me to these places.
Every one of those places, she told me not to go alone or to go there at night. I did both. I stayed initially for twenty-one days. The moment I take any photograph, I become personally involved. I also believe every photograph of this nature, to a degree, is a self-portrait. The hand-writing is as important as the photograph. Having the text as a part of the photograph is giving the women their voice, their message to us, the viewer, in no ambiguous terms.
I never want my work to give answers. Art for me should always be a question mark. What matters to me, and always has, is the feedback from the women and the people from the NGO who guided me over the 3. Photography is the most powerful form of art in the world in relation to social change. A powerful photograph can instantly change public and even global opinion. My photos will never be in that category of icon or status, but my photographs led to a profound change in the lives of three children and to a lesser degree, eight women.
When I have my camera, I feel fearless. The sex workers I am drawn to tend to be on the brink — or the edge. I find that incredibly revealing and inspiring.