Cambodia 36 exposures on film in 2022

36 Exposures is my homage to the people of Cambodia.

Cambodia on film 2022

It is also my tribute to film photography and my love for magazines and photo’s in print. The days when Tri-X was the preferred roll of film used by many photojournalists. Each roll of film has 36-37 exposures only.

​Michael Klinkhamer worked and lived in Cambodia since 2010 and shot most of his photo work for magazine assignments and later for his Cambodia photo tours company on digital media.

​For me it’s always about the people and Khmer culture. Portraits, moods, telling street stories and connecting to the people without spilling too many words.

Phnom Penh-Cambodia buddhist life
Phnom Penh street scene with tuk tuk and palm trees
Daily life Phnom Penh market
Phnom Penh market people_2
Phnom Penh market people

​Film photography makes me press the shutter button only when I have that gut feeling that this might actually work, and only then I shoot one or two exposures. A magazine is something you can hold in your hands.

Daily life Phnom Penh 2022
Busy street Phnom Penh

​Early 2022, I was able to get back to Cambodia after almost two years of closed borders due to Covid with a few rolls of 35mm film in my bag. This time I went out often shooting solo and a few times with clients during my Photo tours.

​Naturally I also re-visited Angkor Wat Temples, the epic centre of ancient Khmer culture and of national Cambodian pride.

Here you can follow a part of the photographic journey and my touching base with analog photography. A fight against the grain it turned out to be…..

​It was a warm home coming experience and pictures came to me naturally, just like always in Cambodia. That’s reassuring and gives me good hope for the future. You can’t Go Wrong here’!

Enjoy 36 Exposures!

You can preview and buy the magazine here.

Srah Srang basin Angkor Wat Cambodia
Srah Srang basin Angkor Wat Cambodia morning rituals
Angkor Wat Cambodia temple morning light
Cambodia Angkor Wat temple gate
Angkor Wat temple girls in traditional dress
Phnom Penh_skyline Cham floating village
Cambodia Cham minorities mekong river
Cambodia-Phnom Penh portraits poverty
Old building abstract in Phnom Penh
Cambodian buddhist monks portraits
Cambodia Khmer rouge prison S-21
36 Exposures by Michael Klinkhamer Blurb book 02-2022

Michael Klinkhamer Productions.

Mobiel: +31 (0)616662813

About the most prominent professor of Khmer/Cambodian History and it’s hidden secrets.

Jean-Michel Filippi is the most prominent professor of linguistics at the Royal University of Phnom Penh- Cambodia.
For historical and current Khmer knowledge his website is a great source of information.
All pictures taken at the National Museum of Cambodia by MK

For more than a century, Angkor Wat has been beyond any reasonable doubt equated with the quintessence of Cambodian culture.

In September 1862, when Cambodia was not yet under the French protectorate rule, Admiral Bonnard went to Udong at that time King Norodom I’s capital and then to Siem Reap. This was the first time that a high ranking French official wrote a report on the famous ruins that we now know as Angkor.

Bonnard wrote: “Legend, history and religion of this vanished people are here, showed to the eyes of the skeptic who won’t be able anymore to deny that today’s poverty-stricken Cambodia could once and can still feed a great artistic and industrious people”. Read more here.

Jean-Michel Filippi © Klinkhamer Photography

Cambodia is open for photographers to discover NOW!

Angkor Wat temple Cambodiaphototours 2022_klinkhamerphoto
Cambodia_Angkor Wat amazing_Klinkhamer photo

Now more than ever we like to prove to be the perfect photography tour experience into mystical Cambodia

mekong river fisherman cambodia sunset

The Cambodian tourism ministry announced that fully vaccinated international tourists with proof of their inoculation are allowed into Cambodia again. We just did this in February 2022 and made several amazing photowalks in and around Phnom Penh and naturally delved back into the mystical powers of Angkor Wat temples near Siem Reap town.

The results of some pictures captured on film are now published is 36 exposures Magazine.

Cambodia 36 exposures on film in 2022 36 exposures on film in 2022

To make travel more convenient, Cambodia has decided the full removal of the 14-day quarantine policy for fully vaccinated tourists, barring certification showing a negative COVID test 72-hours before travel and another negative COVID test upon arrival at Phnom Penh International Airport. 

It’s time to get back to the life we love and support the local Cambodians that were hit so hard during the never ending lockdowns.

The whole year is good for travel in Cambodia.


In 2022-2023 we will offer our proven comprehensive photography safari adventures again in Cambodia. Small individual groups. Offering 1/2 day or full day photo tours . We are open for bookings directly or conveniently for short photo walks through Viator-Tripadvisor.

Cambodia 10 days of photography in the kingdom of wonder!

Get in touch with me here for details and next available tour dates.

For our fully arranged 10 days photo trip from the Netherlands to Cambodia I have designed the itinerary below. This is a 10 days photography adventure.

What to expect on a human level

young boys buddhist alms collection cambodia

You will meet like-minded people who want to improve their photography and discover Cambodia from within.

The photo tour experience is very informal and hands-on. You will be able to ask all the questions you like. We make sure you will love Cambodia and enjoy the time of your life.

What we will deal with photo technically.

People, light, cityscapes, street photography, portraits, how to handle people, timing, composition, setting your goal as a photographer. Photographing in the tropics, adapting to the environment and make your photography joyful for everyone, also your subject. how to interact with strangers. Learning to improve your landscapes and nature photography.

Color control, messages in photographs, using your your unique talents and skills. How to set up a digital workflow, what to look for when editing, color management.

Speed of workflow, white balance, exposure, reflectors, quality of light, finding the right locations and how to share and present your photographs.

cambodia nature waterfall

Depart directly from Amsterdam Schiphol to Phnom Penh Cambodia. We’ve just did this so we can take you there.

With a short 2-hour transit in Singapore. It is of course possible to deviate from this for an individual connecting trip to, for example, Thailand and Vietnam or Laos.

We preferable fly with Singapore airlines as they have proven to me to be the most trustworthy airline to deal with these days. Flying directly AMS into Singapore for transit and onwards to Phnom Penh. It’s is a bit of a hassle with PCR tests and some paperwork but once you have arrived its time to unwind and relax on board.

Awesome off the beaten track programs from 10 days or more in Cambodia await us!

  • Cambodia_Angkor Wat Ta Prom sunset_Klinkhamer photo
  • Cambodia_Angkor Wat statue_Klinkhamer photo
  • Cambodia_Angkor Wat Monks_Klinkhamer photo
  • Cambodia_Angkor Wat monks_1_Klinkhamer photo
  • Cambodia_Angkor Wat interior_Klinkhamer photo
  • Cambodia_Angkor Wat carvings_Klinkhamer photo

Arrival and exploring Phnom Penh, and of course we work towards the highlight of any travel to Cambodia, the world famous Angkor Wat temples. Cambodian lush jungle hideaways and the mighty Mekong river island for a uniques sanctuary stay.

Save and responsible travel is a must and we are aware and able to make your travel plans a reality with our extensive network of known travel partners in Cambodia. With a proven close network of hospitality and transport partners established during our seven years experience in Cambodia you are in good hands.

Cambodia Photo Tour concept itinerary program. 10 days + (2 travel days)

For pricing and bookings for this 10 day Cambodian photography adventure contact me directly Call for free or email:

Amsterdam to Phnom Penh: AMS 10.25AM with Singapore Airlines SQ329. 1 Stop in Singapore 1h 45min. Arrival Phnom Penh 8.35AM

Return: Phnom Penh 18.35PM transit in Singapore 2 hr 20min, Arrival in Amsterdam 06: 45AM SQ324

During our photo tour we give individual tips and teach useful photography techniques during our photo tours each day when possible and desired. As a team we will critique our photo’s and progress together in a casual and constructive manner so we learn, improve and enjoy our photography fully.

Day 1. Arrival in PP and Transit to **** Hotel checkin 06-02. 2 nights. Two days and nights in Phnom Penh. First day to adjust and settle down in Cambodia. Afternoon and sunset photo walk in Phnom Penh.

Day 2. Full day Photo tour and walks in Phnom Penh including visit to Royal Palace and off the beaten track locations. Hidden location around Phnom Penh, meet locals and visit local markets and visit slums, temples and Mekong river communities.

Day 3. Early morning Photo Walk to experience the city gearing up for the day and colourful monks going from door to door to collect alms. Enjoying Cambodian coffee or Chinese tea or savour the delicious local breakfast noodle soup. Walking and taking in all the activity at the Riverside before checkout from our hotel and departure to visit the S-21 museum and Killing Fields in order to better understand what happened in Cambodia between 1975-1979 during the Khmer Rouge( Pol Pot) years . During the afternoon we travel onwards by luxury VIP van to Siem Reap town, the base location for exploring Angkor Wat and beyond.

Day 4-5-6. This is the start of our 3 day Angkor Wat temple experience. The ancient birthplace of the Khmer empire. We start before sunset to catch the first ray’s of sunlight. 1. Full day with plenty of time to relax, and cool down in the afternoon. 2.Next day we visit the lesser known and far afield Angkorian temples, some inside the park and some further out and visit the floating village of Kampong Khleang with our VIP van and trusty Cambodian driver. Day 3 is reserved to explore the mountain where Angkor Wat massive stones and building blocks were carved out from named Phnom Kulen. A wonderful area with lush jungles, huge stone boulders and holy river, waterfalls and splendid views.

Day 7-8-9. Today we travel by VIP van from Siem Reap to Kratie, a 335km long ride that brings us to the sleepy town of Kratie at the Mekong river. We spend the next 2 days on a cultural prestine Mekong river island. During our drive we are able to make stops for taking pictures having lunch etc, etc. An exciting Cambodia road trip!

Here you will be able to enjoy the silence of the island life and the mighty Mekong river up close. We hire a boat for an afternoon exploration and watch the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins as they surface for air.

We stay at wonderful Ratjabori resort made of 11 traditional Khmer wooden houses located North of the island of Koh Trong in front of the town of Kratie. This will give you time to reflect on everything we have seen and done so far and rejuvenate your spirit and better understanding of the more quite life in Cambodia before we head back to the city of Phnom Penh.

On day 9 in the late afternoon after our last photography talk and presentations, farewell lunch and drinks. Departure from the island resort at 4pm

Day 9-10: Return drive from our Mekong river hideaway and checkin at your hotel in Phnom Penh. Night free to unwind and enjoy Phnom Penh.

Day 10 Enjoy your last day in Phnom Penh, shopping at the Central market, enjoy an amazing Cambodian lunch at Malis restaurant or Mealea restaurant.

Your taxi will pick you up in time for Singapore Airlines return flights from Phnom Penh to Amsterdam on 16 February 18.35PM one stop in Singapore for 2h 20m arrival in AMS 06.45AM.

After our 10 days of intense and sometimes relaxed photo walks and adventures you will go home with an portfolio of images.

Pictures that will inspire you to produce a photo book or photo exhibition. Full of portraits, landscapes, moments, street photography and architecture to enjoy for a long time.


Professional Photographer Michael Klinkhamer is The ONE leading private or small group (4-6 maximum participants) photography workshop-tours in Cambodia since 2013.

Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat temples and many off the beaten track experiences. Our photography tours in Cambodia are just amazing with or without a camera so do bring your partner for the ride.

During our photo tours, you will get to find hidden locations, meet friendly locals and learn/experience photography tips no other photo tour will offer you.
Languages spoken in Dutch, English, and German during my lectures and image critique sessions. While having a great time we also like to work hard on our photographer skills and learn from each other.

The ONE Cambodia experience is designed to give you real-life views of Cambodia’s- Phnom Penh’s city life for 1-2 days and take you further into the kingdom of wonder.

We fly to Siem Reap and enjoy an expert introduction to the temples of Angkor Wat. The nearby hidden treasure in the jungle of Phnom Kulen, the Pol Pot- Khmer Rouge last stand for example and many Buddhist spiritual locations and natural wonders the following days.

You will be rewarded with a incredible portfolio of photo’s to take home that will last and you will obtain insider knowledge that will make you a better photographer.

Follow my blog updates here:

More information and Booking will be available as soon as we are able to make save and confirmed travel plans options contact me directly here by clicking the contact me button or via the details below.

Contact me for your Cambodia photography plans.
For Bookings Call: +31 616662813.

Street Photography and how it made me a better photographer.

Phnom Penh street Buddha sunset
Cambodia_boy-cover up

Over the last years “street photography” has become a favorite genre for many photography enthusiasts.

Street photography, what is it?

This image represent for me, a fine example of life in Phnom Penh around 2015 at the now demolished “White building” complex.

The definition of street photography is often debated, but for me, it means, at its core; taking non staged spontaneous pictures of people within their environment in a city or within a place. By doing so showing a different kind of world.

A moment frozen in time that will never happen again, exactly like that what you record in that split second in time. In a 125th of a second.

From around June 2013 until April 2020 (Covid-19 closed the borders for international travelers) I was fortunate to run photo walk experiences and workshops in Cambodia. Mainly for visiting travelers, who hired me to teach them camera techniques and take them out for a day in the field and enter the world of “Street photography”.

Getting inspired by street photography from Phnom Penh Cambodia


Street photography is especially rewarding to mix-it-in with your portrait other travel and landscape shots during your travels. Street photography does brings a useful sense of purpose to roam the streets, and observe with dedicated focus and alertness to capture a never to repeat reality.

To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.  Henri Cartier-Bresson

The hustle and bustle before Covid-19 in the bigger cities around the world were excellent locations for this kind of photo experience. During the 2020 and ongoing 2021 Covid-19 crisis things dramatically changed. Empty streets, people wearing masks, etc.


Introspective photography? Sounds scary!

By using or perhaps introducing the term “Introspective photography”, I am thinking about non-confrontational moments captured. Moments that can reflect a (your) mood or a personal feelings or vision.

Yes, this all sounds a bit heavy but looking for a deeper meaning or layer transcending a feeling can be a rewarding thing after all. Introspective photography might just be the solution to make your work more personal. No more posing and fake smiles or thumbs up, please!

Photographing people is something you do together at any moment with your selected subject, it’s you and your subject, and there will be often a moment of surprise, permission, and confrontation, and yes smiles or thumbs up. Most people in Asia for example will smile or just allow you to take a picture because that is what foreigners do. But we are looking for ways beyond and around this standard practice.


In order to avoid any “confrontation” at all there are ways, to observe, respond, and make your pictures without getting noticed at all. This method requires to see, observe, and look for a possibility for a great image in advance. Using your internal image library (pictures or movies or even music) you can revisit when you see something worthwhile, or just get that moment of clarity to be in- the-moment and react spontaneously.


In some places in the world like New York, Morocco or Amsterdam, people react totally differently to you and might object, question your motives and even get angry. Asking for permission is the first way to work around this but it will kill the spontaneity of the moment. Cambodia is a relief in that regard. Photography is widely accepted and folks are often just as curious as you.


“I only know how to approach a place by walking. For what does a street photographer do but walk and watch and wait and talk, and then watch and wait some more, trying to remain confident that the unexpected, the unknown, or the secret heat of the known awaits just around the corner.”
— Alex Webb


Introspective photos from Phnom Penh-Cambodia.

The challenge of it all is very individual and depends on skill, luck, and personal preference. As with every kind of photography the results matter most. For some it is just to get to unknown places and watching, other cultures. For other photographers it has become a holy grail and a lifestyle to capture incredible moments with a camera.

My seven years in Cambodia allowed me to go out with my camera and clients on a very regular daily basis and do street photo tours. This helped of course in getting to know the place very well and how to “read” people and situations better.

After some time I noticed that I was looking for moments of inner reflection, no posing, no smiles, no thumbs up anymore ~ Michael Klinkhamer


The art of street photography is a lifetime challenge

I was personally learning, growing and experimenting every time we went out, trying to find new ways and different approaches to take pictures and tell my personal stories from the streets of Phnom Penh. Practicing this on a daily basis, sometimes for weeks in a row certainly helps to make you a better photographer. “The more you practice, the more lucky you get.”

With street photography you will have the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson or Elliot Erwitt or more recent Alex Webb as photographer examples of the highest level in what you can do what you can do in the streets with your camera. Look those people up and look at their photo work, interpret them good and start making your own pictures with them as your inspiration until you find your own sweet spot.

The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flâneur finds the world “picturesque.

Susan Sontag, 1977


A satisfying approach to street photography I like to show here on my blog is to take pictures of scenes with people, but without interference or interruptions. Observations without being much noticed and delivering a intimate feeling and a profound story.

See it, shoot it and be gone can work for you and me.

The art of street photography is a lifetime challenge and a lot of fun when you get better at it. That makes it so interesting to do. Luck, your mental and physical state, alertness and observation, a gut feeling, and often just being in the right place at the right time are the key components. Another factor is carrying a camera at all times, or a smartphone these days.

Dealing with different cultures and allowing yourself to get “lost in time” is very rewarding. It brings you that special feeling of freedom, excitement and touching into certain creative “zone”.

Introspection, and what does it mean in photography?

“The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.” Elliot Erwitt


I personally love Elliot Erwitt’s work for he is so right about that quote above. Humor is a big part of his work, Something I like to look out for in my photography. Humor is in the street they used to say.

Louis Vuitton Handbag old Cambodian lady
Older Lady with Louis Vuitton Handbag in Phnom Penh
The Tuileries Louis Vuitton Handbag tells a bold fashion story with its eye-catching mix of Monogram canvas and tricolor cowhide leather.
It allows multiple ways of carry, with twin Toron handles for a chic elbow carry and a strap for practical over-the-shoulder wear.

Model: Sre Khmer
Location: Areksat-Phnom Penh

So, here I go some more; For most locals living and working in a big world city is to face the challenges that come with the daily situations, and dealing with hardship, pollution, noise, the constant heat, the pressure, poverty.

The waiting, the moment of concentration and contemplation, the moments “‘in between” of introvert acceptance.

I found that keeping a certain distance between me and the subject, in most cases the busy locals allowed me to tell a true story, no disturbance, no interference or confrontation. No fake smiles.

Stepping back a few meters and allowing to incorporate more background or foreground in the frame to allow more context works good. Incorporate the location, to allow the light and shadow parts to play part of the whole picture. Looking for multiple elements and waiting for the right gesture are all part of the trick in the world of street photography.

Of course, this does not mean you won’t have any connection with the subject and you won’t ask for permission or share laughter and joy. Especially in Cambodia people a friendly and open to meet.

I prefer to shoot first and talk later or do the opposite. Say, hello and wait for the novelty of your presence wears off, then once people resume to what they were doing before , make your pictures as you noticed in the beginning.

Yes, shooting in the streets demands ultimate flexibility, and making street pictures is often a mixed bag of moments and wonderful encounters.

To answer the question if street photography will make you a better photographer? I will say most definitely, Yes!

It makes you focus, be ready and observe, not only to what is happening in front of you. You will learn to sense the atmosphere, read people and watch the light, the movement, the gestures. It’s your challenge to put it together into one or a few perfect images. Pictures that reflect what you feel, see and like to show.

Street photography will sharpen your eye and sensibilities. All of this you can use in to other kinds of photography, like, reportage, portraiture or fashion.

It a way all photography styles or genres are connected and have many overlaps. Try it!


“The most important piece of equipment in your bag is your attitude.” Joe McNally

What lenses, what settings, and how close do you like to go in on your subject? What do you intend to show and in what way?

From a camera technical perspective, I like using a normal 50mm or 40mm lens, perhaps 35mm on a full-frame, or 27mm lens on a crop sensor camera.

Using a super wide lens means you have to go in even closer, or be in a crowd. This also results in wide angle distortion.
A longer tele lens will result in a more distant, and more compressed perspective.

I also like to use tele lenses to get a more compressed and cinematic feel. It is also a lot easier to shoot with a 200mm or so, but you won’t have that personal up close connection into the pictures.

A lot of photographers on my photo walks used a 28-200mm do it all lens with them. This is great for when you travel and carry-on luggage weight is in consideration.

Again there are many other ways to try and find your preferred sweet spot to get nice images, and it is a personal experience, how to tell your photographic story.

At this time of writing I am based in Amsterdam-Holland. Give me a call when you are around this summer of 2021.

Here I publish a selection from my extended Cambodian street photography archive. I will update it regularly, you can also follow me on Instagram

phnom penh temple gate sunset

Beautiful & powerful portraits from Cambodia

From 2013 until the recent 2020 Covid crisis I conducted daily photo tours in Cambodia. During those many photo walks, I was able to meet locals from all walks of life. This presented a privileged circumstance to photograph these portraits in and around Phnom Penh on a daily basis. Some images are taken from the local Cham minority living on the banks of the Mekong river. Some are from the city markets and inner streets or alleys. Often we visited hidden locations such as temples or monastery and the slums of Phnom Penh.

Here are some of the successful images published from our Cambodia Photo tours. You can find many more great pictures from our photo tours here

This portrait illustrates the Cambodia of the past for me in a man’s dark almost wooden mystical mask. The proud Khmers stuck between a rock and a hard place. Wars, food shortages, the torture of no freedom. Resignation in this man’s beautiful face.

Face of Cambodia
Photo was taken with my 50 year old Nikkormat camera and a 50mm lens on black and white film K-Pan 400 Harman.

Cambodian man smokes local tobacco wrapped within a leaf for good taste. He was sitting on the floor with his mate in the cool local buddhist pagoda hall drinking tea. They offered me some smoke, which was fine, strong and flavorful.

I was also offered to drink some light china tea and try some small sweet bananas. We just smiled and sat there for a moment. Exchanged eye contact and mutual understanding without a word really spoken. Just being and feeling content.

Still, I am always thinking about a potential image and pointed my camera for some casual portraits….”Remember never, ever walk away from somewhere like this without taking the shot”.

Rin Bory

During my Phnom Penh phototours we often visited this hidden pagoda temple complex named Areyksat temple. This place was particularly nice for its abundant vegetation, and silence away from noisy Phnom Penh city.

Rin Bory, Buddhist Monk and Pagoda master in Phnom Penh

Also the spiritual context and buddhist monks and young novice monks living there would bring a great setting to do pictures. I discovered this location during one of my bicycle rides and in order to bring other photographers during my tours I asked the head monk for permission to enter the temple grounds. The head monk is a very friendly and handsome young man called Rin Bory. We got along real fine and he speaks english. He was and is very determined to rebuild the old temple into a new education and library for the community. Many afternoons in the heat he would greet us with his friendly smile and provide us with some cold water. There are always around 30-50 young buddhist novice monks staying there. Rin Bory also provided me with insight knowledge regarding Buddhism and the Cambodian state of affairs regarding religion. Thank you Rin Bory! I hope we will meet soon again my friend. Saum Arkoun! (thank you in khmer language)

Cambodian young man with floppy hat in the Phnom Penh slums along the Mekong.

This young and quite handsome man strolls along the huts and lives along the Mekong river slums settlement. From there you will seen the Phnom Penh skyline. The contrast can not be more dramatic to see the makeshift huts from cheap driftwood and metal roofing on the one side and the golden towers and lights shining from the biggest Casino in Cambodia. We only exchanged some smiles and I made this picture in the blink of an eye.

I often went to see the Cham people in Phnom Penh. They are living a semi-nomadic life along the major rivers and lakes of Cambodia. This man is a proud fishing man and just came back from the makeshift mosque they have built. He has a very nice face, as we did not particularly connect but he allowed me to take his picture.

cham muslim man in cambodia mekong
Cham muslim man in Cambodia Mekong River
Old Khmer man in Cambodia
Old authentic Khmer man in Cambodia

This man hasn’t lost his pride and spirit despite his sometimes hard circumstances. Especially during the Khmer Rouge war in mind from 1974-1979. Those years of horror and war played a big part in Cambodian history until today.

There was immediately a feeling of respect and fun between us, right away. Unfortunately, I was not able to have a Khmer conversation with him. I wish I could have had. Who is he, and what happened in his life and how are things for him today? He must have seen things in his life so far.

Then again, it’s also fine to keep it to friendly eye contact and use my camera between us, and just enjoy the moment of human interaction. I like the visual story of mutual intrigued fascination, as well as the light in his eyes. His fragile worn and strong body and his sparkling eyes and smile and well-groomed hair.

Monk getting ready to go to university captured in a photo typtrich.

It’s those moments I truly love my work as a (portrait) photographer as it gives me insights into people and their circumstances I otherwise never would have realized.

Join me next time for a photography adventure, when we are able to travel again and we are able meet up for a photo tour in Amsterdam or Cambodia!



Photo essay of hope and optimism in Cambodia.

Text and all images by Michael Klinkhamer©

On the outskirts of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh city, you can find a wasteland that tourists never visit. Here the city of Phnom Penh used to operate a huge garbage dump, landfill, named locally “Smokey Mountain.”

Cambodia poverty in slums two sisters - Photo by Klinkhamer
No matter the poverty, this family is surviving with a gentle smile.

For the poorest people and their children, this is still a place to scavenge through the stinking, smoldering, and burning waste. They sell whatever is found to survive.

The landfill was operational until 2009. A newer landfill is relocated further outside the ever-growing city limits. 

The people dwelling in Steung Meanchey find housing and employment in collecting garbage. 

Cambodia poverty of father and child having some food - Klinkhamer©
Cambodia-Phnom Penh. Father and children. Food on the table and education are key.

Since this area is basically a wasteland it attracts the poorest people looking for a cheap or even a free self-made hut made of plywood and what’s found. Trying to make it in the big city. 

Most family’s come from the impoverished countryside and migrate to the big city hoping for a better future “between a rock and a hard place.” 

Click on the images below to see all the images in gallery mode.

People are hopeful and always friendly toward visitors

Contrary to what you expect the energy here is hopeful and always friendly toward visitors. The locally operated Cambodian Children’s Fund has a lot to do with that positivity but it is also a known trait of the resilient Cambodian people in general.

The CCF is the driving force in education and optimism for most of the children growing up there in poverty. For them the only realistic way out is education. The CCF foundation was established by Scott Neeson in 2004 and is an unconventional success story helping people help themselves. 

I was lucky to work with this organization as a photography trainer and also published many picture stories and interviews with founder Scott Neeson since 2010.

Ever since I visited this place I was infected by the positivity and sparkle you will receive once you see, smell, and walk around here and get in touch with the locals.

Click on the images below to see all the images in full size gallery mode.

See real poverty is just heartbreaking, but things are improving.

At the same time, it still is by no means a walk in the park here, and real poverty is still very real and oppressive and just heartbreaking.

Over the last ten years, I have visited the Phnom Penh Steung Meanchey waste dump many times and established a relationship with some people there and helped individual cases as much as I could. A very positive achievement was made with the availability of brand new small houses that sprung up in cooperation with world housing.

With this Canadian initiative, there was hope for families to live and raise their children in a more livable environment and take pride in their lives and wellbeing.

At the same time, an impressive university has been built right there where the garbage used to burn. The Neeson Cripps Academy was opened in 2017 With higher education for a brighter future.

Yes, I also took a lot of pictures there and yes, I admit there are hard truths and real beauty to be found in these people and their children. A deep respect for the way they are surviving. I believe it is my privilege to raise awareness with my camera for real situations of real people fighting for a better life.

It’s is the job of a social photographer to show truth and reality. Michael Klinkhamer

There is also criticism and abjection by some critics as they see my pictures as “poverty porn” and sensationalism. For me, there is no hiding for the truth, reality, and beauty in my pictures.

A chilling truth is also that the mainstream media and big NGOs follow their agendas. They often only report about social injustice during a disaster to raise funds for their own selected programs they support. While overlooking the real issues right in front of them on the ground.

With my pictures, I can reach you directly and you can support for example the CCF foundation. The pictures here were shot on a smartphone and edited as black and white for an ad campaign to raise awareness of optimism in the world.

Click on the images below to see all the images in gallery mode.

I’m working mostly in South East Asia based in Cambodia until March 2020.

Click on the images below to see all the images in gallery mode.

Mekong river Chams community around Phnom Penh

One of the most fascinating communities for me around Phnom Penh is the “Chams” and over the years I was able to visit them several times during my Phnom Penh photo tours.

This community has to deal with the daily challenges of life on the river. Here you find the dynamics of the old and new world colliding. Meeting locals who live a traditional lifestyle while Phnom Penh is rapidly expanding into a 21st-century metropolis. Read more about the Cham here:

The origin of the Chams in Cambodia

Their nomadic ways of life date back to the times of “Champa” once an empire located in what is now Vietnam. Through religious prosecutions and the Indochina wars, they migrated from the Mekong Delta into Cambodia over time.

During the 1974-’79 Khmer Rouge era, they had a hard time and lost many people through religious and communist cleansing. Now they have a peaceful life and deal with day to day issues like urbanization and the decline of the recourses from the Mekong River and Tonle Sap.

Hard life on the Mekong and Tonle Sap river

Life on the Mekong and Tonle Sap river in Cambodia is hard, and getting more difficult every year. This is due to range of issues, like climate change, pollution and the decrease of fish in the Cambodian rivers. This in its turn is caused by the degradation of biodiversity in the rivers and the hydro dam constructions in the upper parts of the Mekong river.

The Cham people are mostly depending on fisheries, agriculture, and trade, and do so with excellence. Their slim long boats with their bright colors are their homes and workstations. Some equipped with solar panels can be seen every day on the river from the ever-expanding city and high-rise buildings encroaching.

The minimalistic huts and settlements they occupy on the mainland and banks of the rivers are there only temporarily. During the rainy seasons, the river level raises and they have to look for higher ground.

Cham families gather on the borders of the rivers to maintain their equipment, nets, and boats and pray in a makeshift tent mosque.

On that small strip of land, they live and raise some ducks or chicken and let their children go to local schools. They live peacefully with their religion and culture as descendants of the once-great kingdom of Champa.

This is a small selection of my photographs from 2015-2019 taken with the full consent of the Cham people. They are proud people and have a hard life but always welcome with me with a friendly “As-salāmu ʿalaykum” as a greeting in Arabic that means “Peace be upon you”.

©Photos and text by Michael Klinkhamer.

Join me next time in Cambodia.

For this photo essay I used my Nikon D610 and a range of lenses by Nikon, Sigma and Zeiss.

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    Phnom Penh|The private photo tour that became a shoot

    Life in Phnom Penh is so full of surprises and twists that it’s often best to go with the flow. See what can happen on a beautiful day in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Below you can read about the private Photo Tour we did with Charley & Jiayu in Phnom Penh.

    Phnom Penh and the private photo tour that became a photo shoot

    Your private photoshoot in Phnom Penh.

    As a photographer, I am always observing people and trying to find the right connections and follow the dots between people to get you exciting pictures during the Cambodia Photo Tours.

    Your Private eye in Phnom Penh.

    It’s now not even necessary that you have to take your pictures during our photo tours, as this story will show.

    We can be your personal photographer while you leisurely, romantic or playfully enjoy Phnom Penh. We can also visit the Angkor Wat temples and capture the highlights for you in a personal custom-tailored program. This way, you will remember your stay in Phnom Penh or Angkor Wat with a smile and have the pictures to prove it.

    Phnom Penh street photography | Full day photo tour

    We meet Charley and his charming partner Jiayu in the famous FCC bar and restaurant in Phnom Penh for a booked private tour. They were equipped with smartphones for our street photography tour

    They were both young and good looking. Together they are a smart duo. Charley is from Los Angeles, and Jiayu is from mainland China, Beijing. We could say: love is in the air.

    They arrived an hour late due to heavy traffic and their accommodation being far out of town. Phnom Penh can be very busy. We, therefore, recommend you to find an excellent place to stay around the city center.

    Phnom Penh street photography | You decide what to do

    We are hosting Photography tours in Cambodia for some years now and have seen many different kinds of people and all levels of photographers. With Charley and Jiayu, it became clear that taking pictures was not their primary objective. They just wanted to have a good day out with a local guide in an unknown place like Phnom Penh.

    Both had it a bit hard to explain what they expected, but it is our job to help and get things happening.

    What Camera to use during a full day photo tour?

    There is a substantial difference between shooting with a smartphone or a more pro-level equipped level DSLR camera. In the end, the best camera is the one you carry with you. We will get back to this in a minute or two

    Phnom Penh photo tour | The real experience

    Back to Charley and Jiayu and what happened next. We settled to visit for a mix between off-the-beaten-path locations and a few tourist highlights to start with.

    Wat Phnom, the primary temple location in Phnom Penh

    We arrived first at Wat Phnom, the primary temple location in Phnom Penh, and one of the few places that resemble a park. There is not much space for parks; luckily the streets of Phnom Penh are lined with trees for shade and air.

    When I offered to take their first picture there, I noticed through my lens that Jiayu had a dynamic flair and natural connection to the camera. She was not posing anything close to a formal picture or with a forced smile.

    Wat Phnom, in Phnom Penh photo shoot

    She immediately moved well and experimented with a variety of daring poses and her boyfriend Charley was keeping to his heroic pose of being Mr. Cool.

    While both are having Chinese roots, we walked up to a separate Chinese shrine just one level below the Buddhist shrine in Wat Phnom. They lit some incense and did a little prayer familiar to the whole thing.

    After this appropriate cultural start out of the day, we were ready for a great day in Phnom Penh.

    Wat Phnom Temple | A tourist highlight

    In the Khmer language, Wat means “temple” and Phnom “mountain”. Temple Mountain. When Siam invaded Angkor in the 16th century, the capital city of Cambodia was moved to Phnom Penh a hundred years later.

    Penh was the name of a now-famous lady Penh who lived along the Mekong and found golden Buddha statues inside a hollow tree. To honor this, she ordered to build a hand made mountain temple as a home for the Buddha statues. The temple was called Wat Phnom, and so Phnom Penh means “the hill of the lady Penh.”

    Turn a photo tour into a photoshoot in Phnom Penh

    After the somewhat touristy but very relevant introduction to Phnom Penh, it was time for a reality check, and we cruised with our hired tuk-tuk to the Orussey district. Psar (market)

    Wat Phnom, the primary temple location in Phnom Penh with tuk tuk

    The markets are so alive, colorful, and chaotic that after this we had some refreshments in a local coffeehouse. They proposed to go back to their hotel residence and do some more pictures there after lunch.

    local market in Phnom Penh photo shoot

    This day was not going to be a regular Photo tour; they were more into each other instead of a photo tour. I, on the other hand, was more curious how this private photo tour would work out if we would make it a photoshoot with her being a real model and him a cool guy. Anything could happen.

    street food in Phnom Penh

    A private hideaway in the suburban of Phnom Penh

    Their hotel was located in one of the gated communities in a suburban of Phnom Penh. It was a real secret hideaway. A huge western-style villa with different rooms. Probably useful for people in business with fast access to the international airport but as a holiday or weekend hub to explore Phnom Penh city just too far away for entertainment or leisure visits.

    The living room was appointed with excellent features and a large dining table, somewhat traditional Asian décor and wooden furniture in a club-style.

    Somehow this couple was able to enjoy a natural role-play together while having fun. Jiayu was adamant about being the strong woman and Charley, the cool guy.

    photo shoot Phnom Penh

    We spend the rest of the afternoon at their well-hidden and beautiful decorated private residence hotel to shoot some spontaneous fun pictures you find here.

    Phnom Penh photo shoot man woman

    For Charley and Jiayu this day was their way of connecting playfully. Being freshly in love, they enjoyed every moment in the role play and meanwhile they were getting a beautiful private photo album together.

    For me, it was an excellent experience to adjust and see how I could keep my clients excited while having fun.

    Spontanious photo shoot Phnom Penh

    After a few days, I sent a selection of the results to them. They loved the pictures so much that Charley and Jiayu ordered all the 155 images. A priceless reminder of their particular time with us in Cambodia.

    photo shoot with piano Phnom Penh

    What camera to use during a photoshoot?

    The image quality of smartphones is impressive these days. In my opinion, it’s all about getting engaged and using your camera as an extension of your eyes.

    After that, there is a whole list of other considerations, like composition, light, the right moment, precise focus, and use of background and background blur, for example.

    But it is also recognizing a good picture over mediocre ones. It depends on the purpose of your images what’s best.

    jiayu portret photography Phnom Penh

    We use Nikon cameras and lenses for our photo tours and private shootings. This series of images of Charley and Jiayu was captured with the Nikon Z6.

    The Z6 is the newest Nikon mirrorless 24mp camera with the 24-70mm F4 lens. With a DSLR (digital-single-lens-reflex) camera, you have more creative input, better control, and higher image quality for reproduction in print.

    Working with different lenses and lens angles are preferred for shooting portraits and close-ups. The wide-angle lens is great for landscapes and interiors.

    During our photo tours, we will help you to make the most of your camera settings. We also provide priceless tips, hints, and instructions to make you a better photographer.

    About Michael Klinkhamer | Cambodian Photo Tours

    I’m Michael Klinkhamer and come from Amsterdam. Since 2013 I’m based in Phnom Penh, and I am lucky to be a professional photographer and travel production manager my entire working career. I’m now living the dream and taking my shots in Asia. I publish my photography work in magazines, shoot for companies, and produce photo reportage and photo exhibition. I also conduct photography tours from my hometown, Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

    Pickups and drop-offs are included from selected hotels. We can start at your favorite spot in your hotel, or in a lovely place in the city. Also, a spectacular rooftop bar or another cool venue in town is possible

    You are free to create your own travel stories and sightseeing theme or leave that all up to us.

    This includes, for example, the best available spots in or around your luxury hotel, resort, and spa accommodations in Cambodia. We can take you to the real Cambodia and show you the way people live here, and we can arrange a fantastic day at the Angkor Wat temples.

    We are The ONE in Cambodia.

    Phnom Penh nighttime photo tour

    Available now is our save and well guided Phnom Penh Evening & Night Lights photography session from 5:15 pm until 20:30 pm or later on-demand.

    It includes fabulous sunset shooting and capturing the nightfall and lively transformation of Phnom Penh city into the night. During the night tour, it is a pleasant temperature (no sun) to explore the town. Bring your camera or iPhone.

    A tripod is recommended. If you don’t have one, we can hire you a lightweight tripod on demand. Professional Photographer Michael Klinkhamer is offering highly rated and exciting photography-tours in Phnom Penh-Cambodia.

    Phnom Penh Night Photo walks | Cambodia Photo Tours

    A different vibe at night in Phnom Penh

    Phnom Penh takes on a different vibe at night and offers excellent night photography possibilities. We will visit a high vantage point location to take overviews of the sunset skyline.

    Then we capture the Royal Palace square by night light and visit a Major Buddhist temple. After that, we walk the side streets, the night market, and the well lit busy streets while street foods are being cooked and grilled.

    On request, we visit the pub street entertainment area by night to take some pictures and have a cold drink. We will take all the madness and neon lights flashing in from a high placed bar/balcony. We visit the old French colonial post office square and capture the harbor lights and Riverside by night.

    This tour is safe, and we assist you in setting your camera up for long time exposures if requested.

    Become a better photographer in Phnom Penh

    This night shooting photo tour is well designed to make you a better photographer and will get you to see the best off the beaten track photography places. Walk away with valuable images and lots of tips & tricks useful for your photography during your further travels in the Kingdom of wonder Cambodia.

    Phnom Penh by night photo tour | The program

    We meet up at the Phnom Penh landmark location FCC-Restaurant/bar to start our photo tour just before sunset. We discuss if needed the options and settings of your camera and what you like to shoot most.

    We review all the opportunities we have to offer and the things you want to learn about here in Cambodia and how to capture them with your camera. Then we go out at put our mind and soul into capturing images. Phnom Penh photography by night is a not to be missed activity!

    Important Information

    • Departure Point: Centrally located departures from the FCC-Restaurant in Phnom Penh. Sisowath Quay 363. (Riverside)
    • Departure Time 5:30 pm
    • Duration 3 hours
    • Return Details FCC-Restaurant Phnom Penh. Sisowath Quay 363 (Riverside)


    • Transport by private vehicle
    • All taxes, fees, and handling charges
    • Driver/guide
    • Live commentary on board
    • Hotel drop-off (selected hotels only)
    • Bottled water


    • Lunch
    • Food and drinks
    • Souvenir photos (available to purchase)

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      Kampong Chhnang photo tour full day


      Departures from Phnom Penh to Kampong Chhnang town. This is a fantastic day tour photo opportunity for an exciting adventure into the heart of the Cambodian kingdom. Here we can find a lot of subject matter and authentic non-touristy.

      Cambodia off the beaten track with its amazing people and it’s valuable Tonlé Sap river landscape on the horizon. Kampong Chhnang is somehow overlooked by the tourist hordes heading to Siem Reap-Angkor Wat and leaves us with a genuine hard-working small city with a lot of charm and possibilities do nice pictures off and on the water. During the day we will be able to hire a charter boat for an hour or a bit more to get closer to the floating villages dotted on the river.

      Discover the secrets of Kampong Chhnang during a full day photo tour

      Kampong Chhnang Photo Tour | What to Expect

      We depart from Phnom Penh in the morning 7.15am. Travel is from Phnom Penh by a local bus and back by shared taxi. (Private taxi on standby during the full day is optionally available). Travel distance from Phnom Penh to Kampong Chhnang is 90 km or 55 miles and takes around 2 hours.

      After arrival, we use local transportation to get to the harbor and explore the busy action along the Tonlé Sap river. During the day we will be able to hire a charter boat for an hour or a bit more to get closer to the floating villages dotted on the river.

      Kampong Chhnang is located at the heart of Cambodia. It’s bordering Kampong Thom to the North, Kampong Cham to the East, Kampong Speu to the South, and Pursat to the West. This province is not only at the fertile and almost ever-wet heart of Cambodia, but also just a 90km ride from Phnom Penh, so its a quick jaunt up and perfect for a full day photo outing.

      Kampong Chhnang, still a rough diamond

      While Phnom Penh is rapidly evolving in a more organized and sleek city, Kampong Chhnang is still a rough diamond for the adventurous traveler who likes to explore and be totally emerged in photography and getting up close with the real Cambodia. Due to its location next to the Tonlé Sap Lake, Kampong Chhnang’s population is predominantly in fishery and rice plantation involved.

      Especially the provincial capital, which is an easygoing hard-working river port town that is worth a visit and our destination. The port focuses on servicing the needs for the local people living on the river and is the main port for selling fish and buying tools and hardware for building and maintaining the floating homes and fisheries further up and downstream on the river and the majestic big Tonlé Sap lake.

      But there is much more to be found along with the port and along the river and further into the countryside. Kampong Chhnang is hard working rough places where the people live a traditional life on stilted houses or on floating totally comfortable houses on the river and lake.

      The cultural and ethnic differences are Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Cham, living somewhat separated but in harmony. Personally, I love the energy and the sense of freedom these people radiate when they go by in their powerful fast boats. Join me for this still unspoiled and non-touristy experience!

      Departure Point:FCC Traveler pickup is offered
      Departure Time: Full day Photo tours from 7.15 am
      Duration:5 hours
      Return Details:Returns to the original departure point


      • Transport by private vehicle
      • All taxes, fees, and handling charges
      • Driver/guide
      • Live commentary on board
      • Hotel drop-off (selected hotels only)
      • Bottled water


      • Lunch
      • Food and drinks
      • Souvenir photos (available to purchase)

      Book now: