Street Photography Cambodia: In November 2016 I travelled to Cambodia following a stop over in Hong Kong. I haven’t seen half as much of this amazing planet as I’d like to and have no doubt I’ll ever feel satisfied that I travel enough. However I’d like to think I’ve been lucky enough to see a few wonderful places along the way, even if I’ve only scraped the surface of it so far: Istanbul with its cosmopolitan mix of East meets West. Indonesia with it’s 1000’s of fragmented islands scattered around the coast, not to mention the Scottish Highlands which still holds on to my heart as one of the most beautifully rugged landscapes I’ve ever seen. But when it comes to colour and culture, Cambodia caught me off guard.
Cambodia was actually my girlfriend Rebecca’s choice of location when we were deciding where the next big trip would be – something about those temples had her hooked and quite rightly so. I’d always associated Cambodia as a backpackers stop over with not a whole lot more to offer than a few temples in Siem Reap. I was miles off the mark here and though the temples were incredible, Cambodia has so much to offer.
The Cambodian markets are one of the best places I’ve ever photographed. The intense colours of the fabrics hanging from stalls along with the colourful food that surrounded every surface just made for something I’ve never seen before. People whizz by on their motorcycles with 3-4 children (or adults) in tow like these vehicles are made for it and everyone else has it wrong. And where there should be agitation and tension through the hustle and bustle of the local community, there’s actually an immense sense of calm as people flowed through the capillaries of the market, weaving in and out with minimal effort. And when I started to focus on the people and their faces, I felt a sense of peace as the local people observed us in return with intrigue and embraced our camera’s with the most humble and generous smiles.
As I travelled through Cambodia I learnt more about the history and the impact of the Khmer Rouge and though the land is scarred from this, they are far from broken and this is so very admirable. Vast landscapes of Rice Fields limited opportunities for landscape photography in Siem Reap, but exploring the temples was more than enough to satisfy any travel photographers lust for a view. If it’s not on your list, well I suggest you get it on there.
For the photographers out there, here’s a little insight into the gear used on my street photography Cambodia post. The 23mm f2 is my go to lens for street and travel work; it’s so quick to focus, small and the weather sealing means I don’t have to worry about wrecking my gear when we hit rough weather conditions. Considering how dusty Cambodia is it worked a treat and dealt with any condition it was in.
I also had my The 35mm f1.4 in my kit bag. It’s a little more tricky to work with this focal length for street as it’s slower to focus than the 23mm f2 and also noisier, so it can be harder to shoot like a ninja when closer to your subjects without catching their attention. However with that extra bit of reach I found that I could spend a little more time composing my frame as I had that extra bit of distance. The 35mm is a fantastic lens for making portraits.