Gary is currently in Grand Chute, WI (May 22nd, 2015)

Search Form

Daily Travel Photo – Phnom Penh, Cambodia


Orpahn Girl in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

This photo was taken at an orphanage I visited in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The girl in the photo was the youngest of the children at the orphanage. She must have been about 3 or 4 years old. While the rest of the kids were wearing shirts and pants, this little girl was wearing a dress like she was going to a ball. I have no idea why. She was walking up the steps to her room, stopped and put her hand on her hip and looked away. This photo wasn’t posed.

I’m also trying a new size so I can include portrait orientated photos to my daily photo line-up. I usually only do horizontal/landscape orientated photos because they just work better online.

  • 9 Comments... What's your take?

Get My Free Travel Photography Ebook

Subscribe to my email newsletter to get a FREE 100 page ebook of my favorite travel photos.


  1. I like it, as a 3/4 year old…they don’t pose very often, so you have to be ready like you were. I like the portrait layout…yay! It works, opening a whole new world for us to see some of your experiences.

  2. Jeff says:

    Perhaps I've opened a can of worms, but…

    There's a difference between what a picture *does* and what the photographer might *want* it to do. Unless an image like this is accompanied at all times by a caption that explains it, what it says visually is simply what it says. Frankly, if an image is powerful enough, what is says visually might overwhelm whatever a caption or description has to say about it.

    So, you can *say* what you want about an image, but an image, all on its own, says something that is, perhaps, completely different from what it really was. Visual literacy is a different thing than verbal literacy.

    In other words, it might very well be that this was an isolated moment that has nothing to do with what I thought (and wrote) about it when I saw it, but those facts do nothing to change what the photograph looks like.

    The reason I posted a comment in the first place was that Gary's written commentary about the image seemed, to me at least, to be completely at odds with what the photograph *did* and *said* as a visual image. I wanted to make the point that one of the jobs that photographers have is to understand not only what images mean but also *how* they mean.

    So , this little girl may, in fact, be perfectly innocent and be acting in a perfectly innocent way, but the PICTURE of the little girl says something completely different. Add in the fact that she's in an orphanage in Cambodia, that she probably has some understanding of and interaction with the wider world through fashion magazines, video, etc, and it doesn't seem that great a stretch to “read” the photograph in a way that is completely different from what the photographer intended.

    One last point has to do with the process of editing and publishing. I don't know this, of course, but one might suppose that there may have been other photographs made of this same girl at the same time. Or, of other things seen at the orphanage. But, the photographer chose *this* image out of the group of images shot during that time period and, perhaps more importantly, chose to publish *this* image on his blog page (which I found via his post on Twitter). In other words, there are a series of actions involved in photography: Selecting a subject, framing the subject, choosing the moment (or perhaps a series or sequence of moments), editing the images shot down to the select “best” images and then, finally, finishing and presenting the work. A photographer needs to be responsible for all of those things.


  3. DrManette says:

    I'm inclined to believe this was just a brief, one second glance at her as she was walking up the stairs. Probably not her learning to sell herself.

  4. Chris says:

    I am with you Gary, I think this is an innocent innocent mid daily ritual. As with your other portraits, a delightful image from an amazing adventure!

  5. jake says:

    That is a really good photo. Good to see you still improving photos skills. That is a main thing dividing us – Adventurers, and simple Tourists. I wrote more about that on my blog


  6. Lisa says:

    It does have a poignant air. I'm glad you're adding portrait shots; I think they goive such a good feel for the place. It's a lovely shot.

  7. Jeff says:

    I'm going to guess that the reason she's dressed as she is and that she's posed like she's posed has to do with “selling” herself. Selling herself as an available orphan, which, if she's not adopted, will translate into selling herself for a living. She's young enough that it's a behavior she's likely learned from watching older children or perhaps even watching women who pose like this.

    I'd like it better if her eye contact was with you and your camera.

    I see this as a sad picture.

    • Gary Arndt says:

      I can understand why you'd think that based on the photo, but she really wasn't posing. She was standing like that for only a second. I just happened to catch it. She was going up the stairs.

  8. Cate says:

    You get the feeling she has done this before to other foreigners. Very precocious by the looks of her manner. I like the link with background and foreground. I think portrait is the way to go when shooting people. You capture much more including body language, lighting. Landscape works for me when I do very tight closeups. Really good shot.

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>