Colin Remas Brown

Colin has been an intermittent contributor to P1xels since the very first gallery show we did. He had a couple of pictures that were very popular in that one. We have been arguing about Hipstamatic the whole time. He loves it. You know what I think. Next week I hope to do another gallery of his, all Hipstamatic!

He went to the far east with a Polaroid camera and his iPhone, taking many many pictures (you can see the whole set here). I found them fascinating and asked him to pull his favorites. This gallery is the result. Below are some notes he sent with his first email. Thank you, Colin!

For my trip to Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos I brought along a Polaroid camera because after visiting Bali a few years ago I found it discouraging that I didn’t have a way to share the portraits I took of Balinese dancers with their families. Cambodians can be weary of foreigners but the Polaroid’s I took transformed our relationship.

In Angkor Wat each temple ruin has an old women — whom I nicknamed temple mothers. They sit alone each day in a chamber at the top of the temple beside a Buddhha statue. Temple mothers often have no family and live alone in a shelter beside the temple. The women looked confused, a little annoyed, when I handed them the blank Polaroid as if I was playing a trick on them. But a few seconds later when the image began to appear they’d begin to smile, a sort of small puzzled smile, and they’d just stare and stare at the Polaroid even after I left.

My jaded tour guide, Rachana, who I was with for five days, and who I like to call my paid friend, repeatedly told me how special this was to the old women because they had never had owned their own photo before.

Later, I spent five days at a crab market in Kep, Cambodia. I love eating crab and Kep is famous for it. The Kep crab market is the only business in town besides running hotels and building hotels. Kep was a former French colonial vacation spot, Kep-Sur-Mer, and the hills along coast are dotted with crumbling mansions hastily abandoned when the Khmer Rouge took over.

In Kep, men catch the crabs but it’s the women who buy and sell the crabs. When I first climbed into the bay beside the market to photograph the crab baskets (wicker holding tanks) the market women would howl at me! But after a couple days and a few Polaroids we became friends — it turns out they were just worried about me slipping or falling.

The market women are busy working and because they wear long sleeve shirts, pants, scarves and cover their faces in lieu of SPF 100 they really didn’t want their photos taken. However, once they became familiar with me and saw the Polaroids of their friends they’d line up to have their photos taken — sometimes they’d run away and return with family members.

One family I photographed recognized me as I was later wandering along a quiet road and threw me into the back of their pickup truck with their kids and took me on a beach picnic. We sat in the sand, ate steamed crabs, drank warm beer, and I took another family portrait.

Red Beans and Ricely Yours,

Colin Remas Brown