Angkor Wat

Updated: Jun 4

Why a Wonder: The largest religious monument in the world, hosting more than 50 major Buddhist temples and several hundred smaller temples. Originally built as a Hindu temple complex in the first half of the 12 century, Angkor Wat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – offering endless photo opportunities for photographers interested in ancient cultures and religions.



Where: Siem Reap, Cambodia.


When: Between November and April, when there is little rain.


Photography: If you could take only one photograph, it would probably be at the reflecting pool near the entrance to the largest/iconic temple – before or at sunrise. At these times you’ll be photographing into the sun, so the impressive towers of the temple will be silhouetted again the sky for a silhouette. To add the feeling of “being there” to your photograph, compose your scene using a foreground element.



Bring a wide-angle lens, like the Canon 24-105mm lens, and your tripod. Get there well-before sunrise so you can get a good/clear spot to set up your gear, before dozens of other tourists and photographers show up at this popular photo spot.



Once the sun has risen, take the path toward the temple and explore the interior of the grounds.



Return to the reflecting pool later in the day to capture the detail in the façade of this massive, awe-inspiring temple.


You can spend several days making pictures at Angkor Wat, which covers 402 acres. Hire a guide who can take you to the seven different entrances for easy access to the most interesting and photogenic temples, some of which are more than 500 years old and are covered with massive strangler trees.



You’ll find workers, models, and Buddhist monks in the temples – so take a short-telephoto zoom for portraits. If you want to take a picture of someone, ask first. Have small bills (Cambodian riel) handy as a way of saying “thank you.”


You’ll also find men who, seeking riel, dress up and act like Buddhist monks. For travelers, it’s hard to tell them apart from genuine Buddhist monks. These street performers are similar to the street performers who portray holy men in India. If you want a model in a photograph, give it a shot.



Don’t forget to take the fun shots of family members and friends, which add a personal touch to slide slideshows and storytelling, of your friends and loved ones.



More: Watch the movies Tomb Raider and Two Brothers. Segments from these movies were filmed in Angor Wat. Learn more about making pictures, which is different than taking pictures, in these KelbyOne Classes.


© Rick Sammon



This post sponsored by Adorama.




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