International Photography Magazine Highlights UH Videographer

A fascination with capturing “people from different cultures going about their daily lives” is what inspires the work of the University of Hawaii videographer Jeff DePonte. A call for applications from International lens magazine for his “Culture” issue led him to submit his street photographs taken during a 2014 trip to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. DePonte’s work along with nine other international photographers have been selected and featured in the October 2022 issue of the fine art photography publication.

“To see my name up there next to people I looked up to is really what’s so humbling,” said DePonte, who has been with the uh Communications Office since 2015.

Featuring scenes from Japan, India, Kenya and Cambodia, the 171-page glossy paper highlights a collection of unique projects focusing on ancient cultures and civilizations from around the world. DePonte’s 14-page photo series titled “Streets Without Borders” features 20 square black-and-white photographs taken during his nine-day trip and third visit to Phnom Penh. DePonte was there as part of a documentary film project featuring the Future Light Orphanage and its founder Nuon Phaly.

“I adopted a set of constraints that would define the work: one camera, one lens, black and white, square,” he wrote in his artist statement. “Working as a photojournalist in Phnom Penh gave me a new frame of reference. Humanist social photography is the same whether it is cinema verité or photo still.

See the extraordinary in the ordinary

With his trusty Fuji X100 camera in hand, DePonte immersed himself completely in the city, snapping photos of people everywhere he went.

“Street photography helps me see the extraordinary in the ordinary, helps me experience a place more fully,” he said.

Images from Phnom Penh include barefoot children on the streets and in the market, a motorbike delivery, jewelers at work, an elderly woman smiling for the camera, Buddhist monks gathered at the Royal Palace and ladies working in the rice fields – DePonte’s favorite in the collection.

“You can see a range of emotions on their faces (laughter, confusion, etc.),” ​​he said. “As a street photographer, I needed to move something that says ‘I respect you’ without being off-putting.”

DePonte said, “Experiencing a place as impoverished as Cambodia will make you question the things you take for granted back home in your own comfort zone. I find it invigorating to observe the cultures of foreign lands. Photography can help us question what is normal and routine, while portraying the ingenuity and resourcefulness that are universal.

Learn more about DePonte

boy sitting on DePonte's lap
A little boy jumps into DePonte’s lap at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh.

DePonte served as a videographer with the uh Communications Office for seven years, and captured many stories for uh New about amazing people and programs across the uh System.

“I love situations where we go and are more or less part of the action, not just reporting but being involved in the story,” he said.

DePonte has over 40 years of experience in photography and video production under his belt. He has worked on various independent photography and film projects, and in several fields to KGMBTV, from community relations to writer/producer/director, for 30 years. He was also co-founder and president of Pipeline Digital, Hawaii, a software company specializing in VCR control that had partnerships with several large technology companies.

He credits his mentor and longtime Kamehameha Schools Photo Archivist, the late Luryier “Pop” Diamond, for “greatly influencing” his photography, as a high school student and then as a colleague. DePonte took over the role of mentor at Kamehameha Schools when he retired in the 80s and was able to work alongside him for a few years.

To learn more about DePonte, go to his site.

Stewart C. Hartline