Captured for the Camera in Cambodia: A Photo Essay of People

I’m still in Lima, starting my fifth month in South America.  I haven’t been to Cambodia in over seven months.

Something I ate on a Thai island just days before crossing the border caused an intestinal illness, limiting my enthusiasm, and causing me to cut my Cambodia experience short.

For three weeks in the smallest of the three Indochinese republics, the discomfort continued to get a little bit worse.  Really tired of the stomach problem, I booked it for Bangkok to get world class care.

After getting top notch advice in Thailand’s mega capital, I returned to India where  my attention became consumed with all things subcontinental.  Anything I’d previously thought about regarding Cambodia was put on the backburner as India was consuming all of my awe.

While recently going through some Cambodia photos while offline here in Lima, I came across four people shots that I deemed worth sharing.

If you like a pic: click on it for a larger view.   Then click a second time for a full sized look.


After buying a bag of street popcorn for $.50, and only eating a small portion of it,  I was determined to donate the rest to the first person I saw who might want it.   Walking in the direction of my hotel, I came across this little girl sitting by herself.  I asked if she wanted the popcorn.  She gladly accepted.  I then thought:  What an opportunity for a photo.  While pulling out my camera I asked for the picture.  She nodded.  With the bag of popcorn resting in her left hand,  her right hand sprouted up while her two little fingers molded into a peace sign.  Considering the recent horrific history that has plagued these unfortunate folks, her diminutive fingers convey great magnitude.

As I was consuming a coconut from this hawker at Angkor Wat outside of Siem Reap, she flirted and hinted that she’d like me to take her along on my journey, or back to my country.  I thought: How am I going to fund the travels of two people?   I smiled and was polite.  I find her smile to be fresh and genuine.  The coconut juice was delicious and refreshing as always.  TRAVEL TIP:  When you finish your coconut juice, the vendor will always cut open the coconut and create a makeshft spoon for you to eat the meat.  You just have to ask for this free bonus as I’ve never seen anyone offer it.  Just watch that what you’re going to eat isn’t touched with a dirty thumb or finger. 🙂  This advice applies to any tropical place.

While heading back to my hotel in Siem Reap, this homeless family by the river asked me for money.  Instead I offered to buy street vendor soup, on the ground next to the little girl.   There were a couple of different kinds, the girl told the man which variety she desired.  I waited till it was ready,  paid the $1 and brought the soup over.   They seemed happy to pose for me.  I don’t know what the woman was wearing around  her torso. perhaps it was for a back or spine problem.  I imagine that she couldn’t breast feed. What I find interesting is that all six eyes are looking straight into the camera.

Here in the over touristed town of Sihanoukville, the locals were nowhere near as genuine and friendly as in the other three places I visited in Cambodia.  The women are selling succulent lobster tails, while the two boys have colorful wristwear.  I can’t tell if the woman on the left is actually posing for me or trying to get herself out of the picture.  Anyway, she has a nice smile.  While looking at this one, I think: Maybe I forced it.  Is it immoral to take photos of people without their consent?

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Which photo(s) did you like the best?   Feel free to leave a comment.


11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mamma on May 9, 2012 at 22:57

    I also like the first and the last. The woman on the left is pretty and seems to like being photographed.


    • MAMMA: The first one of the little girl is what inspired me to do the post. I was thinking about only putting that one up. But then I figured it would be nice to share a few more. I agree. The girl on the left in the last photo is the most photogenic of that bunch.


  2. the 1st and the 2nd…. 🙂


    • MAYUR: Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I actually put the photos in the order that I like them best. I also like one and two. My favorite by far is number one.


  3. Posted by Darren on May 8, 2012 at 23:36

    I don’t think it is immoral to take photos without consent. The camera is a new character in the world in which we live. They are in our cell phones, on our computers, in satellites watching us from above, in security cameras in the city streets and in the hands of travelers on back roads in small towns in Cambodia.

    Of course I believe that if someone makes it known to us that they do not want their photo taken, we should respect that.

    Nice photos!


    • DARREN: Thanks! Good points made, yes, the camera is ubiquitous in today’s societies. I always respect people who don’t want their pics taken, e.g. most of the indigenous person I’ve come across in Ecuador and Perú.


  4. I love people pics; perhaps you could do a series while you’re in Peru? And I don’t think it’s immoral to take photos of people without their consent, unless you’re intention is to exploit them. Often candid shots can be more interesting than posed shots and can better capture reality as you’re seeing it.


    • and regarding my favorite photo: probably the little girl throwing the peace sign, with the last (group) photo being a very close second.


    • ADIRONDACKER: Great idea about doing a people photo shoot of Peru, maybe other lands too. Lots of pics to go through. Good point the shots being ethical. I usually ask but other times get overly bold. It’s also quite easy to non chalantly just snap a bit, especially without the flash, no one ever notices. My favorite was definitely the little girl one. I was lucky to come across it.


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