Asia Motion on the move: Phnom Penh's newest photo agency marks its official launch today with an exhibition at Equinox that showcases the varied styles of its eclectic and growing membership
Asia Motion on the move
Written by Anne-Laure Poree
Friday, 05 December 2008

Phnom Penh's newest photo agency marks its official launch today with
an exhibition at Equinox that showcases the varied styles of its
eclectic and growing membership

For the past three months, Isabelle Lesser has been preoccupied with a
single obsession: to create Asia Motion. Made up of a small but
talented group of photographers and artists with an intimate knowledge
of Asia, the agency bets on the quality of its members' photos and the
stories they tell to find its place not only in Cambodia but in the
vast photo galaxy of the world.

Lesser came up with the name Asia Motion by thinking about what
inspired her love of photography: "the emotion". She also wanted to
refer to the specificity of the agency, which focuses exclusively on
Asia, and wanted the name to be easy to pronounce in all languages.

Styles and skills
After a year of preparations, Asia Motion is now a reality, and its
official launch will take place today at Equinox with the exhibition
of pieces shot by agency members.

Through the images taken by the eight photographers in countries that
include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cambodia, the United States and India,
as well as the videos of Carlos Franklin, the public will gain an
overview of the different styles and skills that Asia Motion can

"Asia Motion is not only [about] photography but also video," Lesser
explained. "When you are in front of a photograph, you can stay ten
minutes or three hours. It's up to you. In the future, people will not
hang photographs any more in their living rooms, but videos. For me,
video follows photography. It is like many photos put together,
especially Carlos's work on video collages," she said.

Managing relations
Lesser said that the work of Asia Motion agency members will be
commissioned for advertising or commercial pictures, social or
economic reports, and fashion or artistic shooting.

After six years working as a photographer in Cambodia, Lesser has
numerous contacts in the country. She is now planning to use them to
manage relations between clients and her photographers.

"I believe in [the photographers]. They don't know how to sell their
work, but I do. I am more confident than they are. In addition to
that, some of them are very busy with full -time jobs [and] some are
too shy. I will use my address book to their benefit. I want to
promote them in Cambodia and outside of Cambodia," she said.

"Asia is so big. There is a boom in India and China. Everything is
changing so fast. In the Middle East, I know there is a demand for
Asian stories ... and not only sad stories."

The launch of the agency coincides with agency member Ryan Plummer's

"I was looking for local representation that could assist me in
acquiring more commercial and documentary work," he said. "Being a
part of the agency motivates me in developing further my commercial
and documentary photographic work and exploring creatively how facets
of the two genres can influence and even complement one another."

In exchange for Lesser's energy and personal investment, the
photographers are obligated to give her 35 percent of the sales
brought to fruition through the agency.

"The commission will be smaller if [the photographers] become full
members and pay a yearly fee of US$300. I think that with this fee
they will feel more involved."

Starting small
At the moment, there is no ambition to create a big agency. Asia
Motion wants to stay small with a maximum of 15 photographers in the
next two years.

"The idea is to be connected with big agencies through a web link and
to preserve our specificity. We are not a pictures databank. We only
publish complete stories which have a beginning and an end, telling
something about Asia or Asian people anywhere in the world, like
Stephane Janin did in America, where he lives and takes pictures of
the Cambodian community there. It is a very unique point of view."

Lesser hopes that some good Cambodian photographers will be interested
in joining Asia Motion.

Even if working as a photographer is "hard for everybody, whatever
their nationality is", and Cambodia is not a wide market for
photography, Lesser is quite optimistic for the future. "It's just the
beginning but it's now or never. I think there will be opportunities.
The market will grow slowly but surely. Things are opening up step by

Lesser said that she takes care of her photographers as a mother would
of her children and if you ask her what makes each of the
photographers unique, she is inexhaustible.

"Peter ... You have to look at his photos. They are magnificent. He is
inside the action. He is so close to his characters. Erin, I like her
conceptual ideas and the aesthetic of her photos ... Stephane, he is
the one who opened the first photo gallery in Phnom Penh. I admire his
originality, his experiences and his passion for Cambodia. Srikanth is
a man I have met in India. I never met someone so generous. His white
and black pictures are so pure. He has got the aesthetic and the
meaning. This is real photography," Lesser exclaimed.

The launch of Asia Motion will take place at 8pm today at the Equinox,
with an exhibition of photographs shot by agency members.