Shutter therapy in Phnom Penh

Life has been incredibly hectic lately, so when my friend Amir randomly asked if I was down for a short holiday to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I immediately jumped at it. It was not planned as a photography trip and we were there simply to catch up with old friends and drink as much cheap beer as we could. However, it’s inevitable that I squeeze time for shutter therapy, especially in a city I haven’t been to before.

Initially, I wanted to use my usual street photography setup: OM-D camera with compact prime lenses (Olympus 12mm F2, 25mm F1.8 and 45mm F1.8), but I decided to simplify further by using just one lens, the Olympus 12-100mm F4. After all, the Olympus 12-100mm is designed to be an all rounder, so I thought using a versatile zoom lens will help me pack less and travel easier. The 12mm end covered all my wide angle needs, and I can still render shallow depth of field if I wanted to when I zoom all the way to the longer end of the lens. There were very rare moments where I wished I had slightly wider coverage, or a wider aperture (usually in dim lighting situations), but for the most part, the Olympus 12-100mm F4 lens was more than sufficient for my time in Phnom Penh.

I was particularly drawn to the slow, laid-back pace of Phnom Penh. In stark contrast to the developing city with busy traffic, you find locals sitting around or taking a nap out on the streets in the middle of the day. People are warm and friendly, perhaps more so than Malaysians and I had no trouble approaching strangers for portraits. It was indeed a refreshing change of scenery, to explore a foreign land. I particularly love how the tradition and culture still prevails in the people of Phnom Penh – something I’ve tried to translate into images.

The Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 lens is available from B&H
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Is available from B&H


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Images and content copyright Robin Wong 2017 onwards. All rights reserved


  1. timkelsall says:

    I lived in Phnom Penh for seven years and have lots of photos of it on my Flickr site ( I admire your photos of Malaysia and you have some good shots here. I must say, though, that I was a bit shocked by the picture of the woman breast-feeding. PP is quite a conservative place and this is not a particularly common sight. I wonder if she knew you would be posting the picture on a public site.

  2. brycesteiner2012 says:

    Are you still liking CaptureOne? It seems to work well for me. The breastfeeding picture is nice and no one seems upset that you took it. You did a good job.

  3. i had a friend from cambodia, they are nice and really great people.

  4. Now I know a bit more about Cambodia and the Cambodians. They seem to be nice people. Great pictures as always.

  5. Tom Gately says:

    Lovely photos, those close portraits really show the fantastic microcontrast this zoom is capable of. Having bought one of these a few months ago it’s hardly been off my camera except when I need something a little more compact (the joy of m43 to me is the ability to go small). Inspired me to use it for a few more portraits as I have tended to switch to the also fantastic 45 1.8. so thanks!

    Phnom Penh is a fantastic city with lovely people as you say, I must go back!

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks for the kind words, and indeed with good lighting, the portraits using this lens are truly wonderful. I miss Phnom Penh already!

  6. I am surprised the young woman allowed you to take a photo of her while breast feeding her child.

    • Robin Wong says:

      I was wondering when someone was going to say something about that. All I can say is, I can be quite charming. *wink

  7. Magnificent!

  8. PAUL TIRAJOH says:

    Excellent photos, thank you for sharing.
    Dod you also take picture at night (low light) with these lense ?

  9. Well done and as alway excellent portraits.

  10. great pictures. Congratulations !

  11. Great photos Robin as always. How do you get people to be candid and not candid at the same time?

    • Robin Wong says:

      Candid and not candid? That’s too complex. I always go for simplicity, and never thought too much for a shot. I think the way they look at me reflects the way I look at them, somehow. Or maybe I was just imagining things.

  12. As a person of a certain age, the mention of city in this title has always elicited memories of the conflict and the Khmer Rouge. So nice to see what looks to be a relatively normal and tranquil urban sprawl. As for your gear choice, I am always amazed at how sharp Olympus manages to make their Pro Zooms … thanks for Sharing Robin! 🙂

    • Robin Wong says:

      Indeed, when it comes to zoom lenses, Olympus knows their stuff. Thanks for the kind words! Phnom Penh is a very peaceful city, perhaps too peaceful!

  13. Thanks Robin for sharing your photos!
    May I know were these set of images processed via Olympus Viewer 3 or Capture One 10.2?

  14. That’s a gr8 set of images really captures the essence of the city

  15. So alive!!!!

  16. Thank you for sharing Robin! The images are amazing!!

  17. Lovely set, Robin! Love that desert island lens!


  1. […] as I was returning from my short holiday to Phnom Penh, I was invited to shoot the dress rehearsal of an unusual rock concert, Let’s Rock, at KLPAC […]

  2. […] as I was returning from my short holiday to Phnom Penh, I was invited to shoot the dress rehearsal of an unusual rock concert, Let’s Rock, at KLPAC […]

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