Part 3. People of Angkor.
Looking back at the photographs that I have taken around the temples of Angkor Wat, there was a big change in style when I made the switch to digital photography in 2006. I stopped travelling with my Mamiya RZ camera and changed my kit to a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II. The only remaining pieces of kit that made the transition were my Lee ND filters, my well travelled Manfrotto 055 tripod and a compass.
With the Mamiya RZ I had very rarely taken any travel portraits, as I didn’t shoot 35mm, with my new digital set up this was now made possible. A great advantage shooting digitally is the ability to change your ISO from shot to shot, which meant I could photograph people in low light situations, though I still prefer to keep the ISO as low as possible depending on the lighting situation and subject. With this change to digital my photography had started to take on a more documentary feel.
One of the reasons I had fallen in love with Cambodia was because of its people. After going back so many times I had local friends and they started to teach me phrases in Khmer, this always breaks down any barriers between cultures and usually causes lots of laughter, especially when trying to pronounce words with such a tonal language. I think it is always good to learn a few words in the local language you are visiting. I remember for the portrait of the Buddhist nun below I was talking in Khmer, much to her amusement.
Whenever I am on a travel shoot I always engage the help and knowledge of local people, they know the best spots and the places the crowds don’t get to. I have made friends with local people all over the world and if ever I go back to a place I forge these relationships.
Born out of my passion for Cambodia and my knowledge of this area, I founded Digital Photography Holidays, taking photography guests to my favourite locations, one of these being Angkor Wat of course. My first photography holiday was ‘Angkor Wat & Cambodian Life’. The temple complex covers some 400 square kilometres, so there is so much more than just the temples to photograph, the area is full of great characters and opportunities for all styles of photography. Even around Angkor Wat temple itself everyday local life goes on, street kids go fishing in the moat using bamboo poles and fishing line to catch food to eat.
Young novice Buddhist monks hang around the temples wanting to practice their language skills with visitors.
Kids have fun and cool down in the many moats on makeshift slides.
When I first started taking photographs as a teenager I mainly took black and white images as I loved the process of developing film and printing the photographs. Black and white photography has started to creep back in to my work, especially with software such as Lightroom, you can produce exquisite black and white photographs exactly how you want them to look.
Join me next week for the final part of my travel photography blog to Angkor Wat.
Stephen Studd is an award winning professional travel & garden photographer from the UK. Stephen also runs photography holidays and workshops to Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Burma (Myanmar), Marrakech, Venice, Prague & Paris with his travel photography company Digital Photography Holidays.