Cambodians are a very friendly people who are generally happy to be photographed. However there are a few things to remember when photographing this wonderful Country.
Best Time to take photos Like almost everywhere; the mornings and late afternoons are the best. From 10 am to 3 or 4 pm the light can be harsh with the sun overhead at midday. If you are serious about photography and have more than a few days here; Take a rest; a long lunch and come back later. The Rainy Season is an excellent time to visit Cambodia. It does not usually rain for long but when it does everything stops! The rain is often followed by sunshine; so the sun reflecting off the stones and the saturated colours can be extremely photogenic. Cloudy conditions can be an advantage for some photography; people shots and details of the magnificent sculptures of Angkor can be a lot better under these conditions.
People If you want to take a photo of a person please ask first a smile and a point to the camera will usually give you a good response even if they do not speak English. Khmers; especially older ones, tend to stiffen up when having their photos taken. Make them laugh. Looking like a pro and taking a shot with the lens cap on causes amusement. It works every time ! If someone does not look happy about having a camera pointed at them; please respect them and don’t shoot; there will many other opportunities. Do not intrude on peoples personal space; I‘ve seen many people pointing long lenses at people washing etc on the floating villages. How would you feel about having a camera pointed at you by a total stranger while brushing your teeth?
Money for photographs Do not give money for photos; You may think you are being generous; but giving cash to kids for photos just results in demands for payment for others in the future. People in rural areas do not have many photos of their families. If you can; try and get a photo to them by way of your tour guide. We at Peace of Angkor do this regularly for our guests and will print from email. Monks and nuns collecting offerings are often very happy to be photographed; I always give a small donation to the Buddha and or Monastery but not directly to the Monks. There have been incidences of Buddhist monks not being what they appear; so be warned.
Photography in Monasteries is often allowed; please ask first.
Respect those in prayer and do not photograph unless you have permission.
The Temples of Angkor are not active places of worship, so there are few restrictions.
A separate photo permit is not needed for personal photography.
A commercial photography permit is expensive and not easy to obtain.
Only small tripods are allowed; be careful not to obstruct busy areas or you will have the attention of the guards.
Professional cameras are not officially permitted at Angkor. The definition of what is pro and amateur gear is becoming very blurred nowadays. Photographers with professional SLR's, medium format cameras and even large tripods are not usually troubled if you act with discretion.
We have had hundreds of photographers with professional type gear here. It is extremely rare for anyone to be questioned.
Just be a bit careful about using tripods in busy areas.