An exhibition of photographs taken by children at Sunrise Children’s Village orphanages in Cambodia will be premiered Nov. 21 by The Cambodian Photography Project at Gallery del Grotto, Sports Basement Bryant, 1590 Bryant St. in San Francisco.
The event, from 5:30 to 9 p.m., is open to the public. Images will be for sale, with all proceeds donated to Sunrise Children’s Villages. All purchases are tax deductible.
The Cambodian Photography Project, created by Santa Barbara native Marisa Heller, 28, of San Francisco, was conducted over the summer at orphanages in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Heller and a small group of photographers, several from Santa Barbara, provided digital cameras to some 40 disadvantaged and orphaned children between the ages of 9 and 18. The young photographers took part in photography lessons while they documented their daily lives through photography using the skills they had learned.
“The images have a unique quality with a viewpoint that can only be captured from a child’s perspective,” Heller said.
The San Francisco exhibit will feature dozens of colorful images as well as portraits and stories about the young photographers and their home.
Heller developed the idea for the project after she and longtime friend Tiana Leeds, 28, of Santa Barbara, toured Southeast Asia. The two women were visiting an orphanage in Siem Reap, where the children used the women’s cameras to take photos. Captivated by the results, Heller created the nonprofit 501(c)(3) photo project.
Geraldine Cox, founder and president of Sunrise Children’s Villages, thought the concept fit in well with her goal of expanding opportunities and learning for children at her orphanages.
“Although I don’t usually take volunteers, there was just something about your enthusiasm that I liked,” Cox said of Heller’s proposal. “And the kids learning another skill like photography, I thought, well, that’s really worthy. And when young people give up their time to come and help us, why would I say no?”