This child is on the municipal rubbish dump in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The photograph was shot for an international NGO in 2000. These kids scavenge for recyclable material and the place is fetid filthy, stinking and basically like a steaming, reeking version of hell. It’s awful. You throw up as soon as you get near it and have to get over the retching before you can work.
The kid is looking out of the frame and who can blame him. He earns about fifty pence a day at great risk to his health. The picture has had quite a lot of usage I think.
I like shooting black and white but it doesn’t sell these days, unless you claim it’s art, and I won’t make art out of the suffering of people like this kid. As a true documentary medium it remains very powerful and I am a big fan of those editorial photographers who do it well and irked by those who let the art or style overpower the subject matter, especially if that subject matter involves others’ suffering.
Dan White started as a photographer in 1990 working in Paris and then London for multilateral organisations, magazines and some news. Five years later he began working on magazine features, which led to general assignments around the world for magazines and aid organisations. Dan has also done plenty of time on the doorstep in the rain. In addition to photography he writes and packages features for other photographers. He has been based in Asia since 2002.
Photographer since 1990, EPUK member since 2001.
See more work by Dan White