The Human Gallery: Finding a life’s passion in Battambang

It’s impossible not to fall in love with the resilient, beautiful humans of Cambodia. They are thriving, often through intensely creative outlets. Whether in spite of, or inspired by, their horrid modern history, and their rich and vibrant long term history, the result is is a profound statement of humanity.

Angkor boasted more 1 million people when London was still a settlement of 50,000 on a moody river. They’ve been here a long time, fighting for their turf and their way of life. It shows in their eyes and on their faces. And we met one man who is capturing it through remarkable photographs that he sells from his little gallery in Battambang.

Joseba Extebarria  set out from Spain in 2008 on a bicycle quest that would take him through some of the poorest parts of the planet, photographing the people he meets along the way. He has relied on the hospitality of strangers for most of his accommodation, and it’s these people who become the subjects of his art. His eye for deep human emotion is superb, and his talent for capturing the expression that bares the soul is unmatched.

Joseba has travelled through six of the world’s continents, and fell so passionately for the people of Cambodia, that he stopped here to set up his gallery. 10% of his profits go directly back into the community, and his deep connection with the people screams out of every pore.

We asked him “Why Cambodia, why Battambang?” All he could say is “look around. Look at them. They need so much, and have so little, but give everything to the people around. I couldn’t leave.”

Every one of his portraits has a story, which he gladly shared over a shot of his home brewed rice wine. His work is moving, and we purchased several of his photographs – applying our own interpretations to his stories, and making them meaningful for us as well.

We met a man who is living his dream, and although its created hardships at times, he has sharpened his craft, and is masterful in its execution. We left his gallery feeling heady in the experience of having met one of the truly special people of the Earth.

His photos speak volumes, and I would encourage you to check out his work on his own website, which does far more justice to his subjects than we ever could.


About the author: Shalena

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