Posted on May 16, 2013
Isn’t kind of strange to think Ta Prohm is most known for being the temple used in the Tomb Raider movie? I think so. Kind of like the Burj Khalifa might be known as the tall building in Mission Impossible, and not for being the tallest building in the world. strange.
Ta Prohm is one of the temples I visited when I first when to Cambodia back in 2009 with the Raddest Photo Trip Ever. And it’s changed immensely. In a way it’s sad to me that Cambodia is making these temples more “tourist-friendly”. Like other temples, wooden boardwalks have been build around and through the ruins for accessible touring. For me it takes away from the charm and history of what these temples once were and how what they once represented is literally left in ruins. But add those tourist-friendly elements and I feel the “renovations” are really doing a disservice to people who come to soak in the history of Angkor Wat. The boardwalks are also set above ground level to manuver over some of the fallen stones, but you lose the grand feeling of being on ground level looking up at these amazing structures and the ginormous trees growing out of them. In 2009 you could climb and explore through the temples which gave me a feel for how the ancient people of Angkor used to. Now with the boardwalks it feels detached like I’m walking through a zoo or something.
I’d highly suggest getting your butt to Cambodia and Angkor as soon as you can. Who knows what else will be changing in the next years. Not to mention, when I went in 2009 most of the temples were empty, so we could explore at our leisure. This past time I visited most of the temples were overcrowded with tour-bus-loads of people. I wasn’t a fan of that.
With all that said, Ta Prohm is amazing. It’s one of a few temples of Angkor Wat that is covered in the types of trees with their huge roots that climb up and over the ruins. On this day I was alone, so it was nice to spend time sitting and soaking it all in. I really enjoyed going through and capturing the same elements that I did in 2009 and looking back to see how my voice has changed. This time, too, I brought along a polaroid land camera and an instax mini. I can’t wait to get those prints scanned.
. . . . .
P.s. I love looking back at my post from my first Ta Prohm visit. Oh how my photography changed. Going on that trip was one of the pivotal moments in my life. I gained so many girlfriends whom I cherish to this day… one even named Cherish, whom I went with to India. I also learned a lot about photography, especially Amy <3 who I spent many long tuk tuk rides with. And Richelle who I went with on this Cambodia trip! All in all it was wonderful to return to Cambodia. I felt like I was returning home. I loved experiencing Ta Prohm for a second time, my eyes wiser and my photography more mature.
. . . . .
Here’s a picture from my trip in 2009. The picture is taken of most of the group by Josh Newton.
. . . . .
Below is a picture of the same spot. The left from 2009 and the right from 2013. The original left picture was a vertical image, but I cropped it to compare the two images. You can see how they’ve added modern structural elements to keep the ruins from falling apart. You can also note a vast difference in how I edit. Crazy how so much changes in four years.
Posted on May 15, 2013
“Never live on your memories of past experiences, but let the Word of God always be living and active in you.”
It’s so easy to take the path of life based on my own formula of where I want to go, what I want to see, what I want my life to be. But usually God has different plans. It all takes me by surprise, one moment my life is going in one direction and God takes me in another. I pause for a bit. I panic. I try desperately to figure it all out. But then I remember the truths I know of God. He is always with me. His plans are best. I want the life He’s planned for me. My life is His life. And then fear becomes comfort.
Oh how easy it is to go with the flow of life. (I do it all the time!) I’m grateful for those times when God jolts me and reminds me I’m going with the flow. And He reminds me to be an adventurer. To go blinding into the world and follow him.
As a wedding photographer I’m constantly surrounded by people in love. That’s what I love most about my job. But somehow I’ve fooled myself into thinking that was enough love for me. I have a wonderful life and everything I could want. But I’m single. I’m happy as I am, but dating is terrifying. And somehow I’ve gotten into the pattern of avoiding dating and relationships because they were honestly too scary for me to deal with. I took a long break from it, finding “contentment”. There wasn’t any heartbreak or disappointment or rejection to have to deal with. But that’s not where God wants us. He doesn’t want us to be “safe”. He wants us constantly challenged and growing and craving to be better people. So even though dating is something I’ve avoided for almost a year now… maybe it’s God’s message to me to break out of my hibernation, no matter how scary or painful it could be.
He knows its not an easy path that He’s set out for me, but He’s with me every step of the way. Picking me up when I fall and carrying me when I am weak. It’s scary. And even though I’m actually scared a lot of the time, God never changes and never fails me.
Go follow the road less traveled. Be brave. Conquer life. Follow God and you’ll find yourself.
Posted on May 14, 2013
Jenn and Tad met me to wander through UC Berkeley’s beautiful campus. We found ourselves in so many beautiful libraries. This one in particular was the optometry library where Jenn’s spent countless hours prepping for exams and projects.
Now, if you know me, you know I love books and bookstores and libraries. I swooned over the opportunity to photograph them in so many difference library spaces. I had so much fun shooting them in this particular library. It was intimate and colorful. I just had to share a few from their engagement session. They’re so sweet. I can’t wait to finish up the rest of their engagement session!
Posted on May 14, 2013
Beng Mealea is a beautiful temple, but its two or three hours outside of Siem Reap, where I was staying. Sounds like a long bumpy bad drive huh? A two hour car ride isn’t the most fun. Imagine doing it in an open-air tuk tuk. Sound dreadful? Well, absolutely not. My favorite parts about my trips to Cambodia are the long rides through the countryside. The wind blowing in my hair, the sun tanning my ghostly white skin. Some days I didn’t care so much about the temples or the destinations I just wanted to drive. I longed for those long tuk tuk rides.
Any time I visit a country as poor as Cambodia, it’s really such an introspective and sobering experience. You drive by homes that you could barely call huts, but you see the people inside smiling and laughing. No matter how little these people have, still they greet you like you’re one of their own family. They invite you into their homes, their lives. Cambodians are such warm people. I know that Cambodia is wrought with its own problems and its not all pixie dust like it appears to me as a tourist*, but one can’t deny the immense sense of contentment these people have.
An example of how awesome some Cambodians are is Mr. Sith, my tuk tuk driver (and friend!). Mr. Sith was talking with me one day, telling me about his children. I asked to see a picture, and responded by asking if I wanted to meet them. So he drove across the river to a market for locals where his kids were hanging out. I was so happy to meet his wife and kids. Later in the week, while in search of some bags for a friend, Mr Sith decided he wanted to buy a present for me and my parents. I mean really, who buys presents for someone’s parents? I thought that was the sweetest thing. It nearly melted my heart that he wanted to give my parents a gift. I suspect that he didn’t have a lot of my money, yet he so generously want to share what he had with me. I love people who love Jesus, but honestly even Christians who should be so loving and generous can’t compare to my experiences in Cambodia.
So as we drove through the countryside, I thought about life and what I needed to change about myself. In what ways could I be more caring? more giving? more loving? And that was my theme of Cambodia.
Posted on May 13, 2013
Here in the Bay Area it seems like we’ve been having an unseasonable heat wave. But sure enough, the one cold, blustery day we had was the day I photographed Jessica and Ryan. The two of them powered through the cold, while I took advantage of the wind. I always enjoy spending time with my clients and photographing them. And like many of my other clients, Jessica and Ryan were completely at ease in front of the camera. My heart melts when I photograph couples like Jessica and Ryan who are just so in love. There were so many amazing pictures of Jessica and Ryan, but my favorites are of them in the wind. Yay!
Posted on May 12, 2013
Over the years I’ve grown up and learned to appreciate the people around me, especially my parents and my family. It seems the more immature I was the less I valued my family. Now that I’m older and constantly growing, I’m learning how important my family is in my life. More than anyone my parents, I’m sure, have experienced the most heartache over my immaturity. I can’t even bare to think of the days when I would tell them that I hated them. I can say it was part of being a teenager. I can say it was hormones. But all it really was was selfishness. Aside from Christ, my parents are my biggest examples of love and sacrifice. Like anyone, my parents are not perfect, nor am I, but still they made me and my siblings their priority.
My mom has been in remission for some time now. And all I can think about is how God brought her through her cancer. How in this most difficult time my mom continued to want to put others ahead of herself, always using her struggle to bring praise to God. That’s the woman I wish I was. That’s the woman I’m striving to be. That strength. That faith. That kind of love. The picture below is in 2011; around that time my mom was fighting cancer. To be honest it was a sad time, but it was my happiness with my mom. She was at home, taking a year off from her job as a teacher, and she and I got to go on our adventures.
The picture above is from when my mom was in her early 30s with my five older siblings. She was only a few years older than me yet she managed to be a mom to all those little ones. It’s really freakin amazing. I can barely take care of myself. How she took care of all my siblings around my age is amazing to me.
- – - -
Today is Mother’s Day. And after being a witness to so many births and being able to photograph so many families, I so admire anyone who is a mother. I couldn’t begin to imagine what it’s like to be a mother, but I know well enough that it’s difficult. So today, I want to celebrate all the moms in my life. My clients. My friends. My relatives. All women I admire in my own way.
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!
Posted on April 26, 2013
I’ve been in Phnom Penh for the past couple of days, and I’m sad to say my Cambodia trip is coming to end. Cambodia has such a special place in my heart. I couldn’t tell you in words. Maybe it’s because on my first trip I met so many of my dear friends. Or maybe it’s because the people of Cambodia have big hearts. Or maybe it’s because my dear tuk tuk driver, Mr. Sith, bought me and my parents (yes, my parents) gifts. Cambodia is been good for my soul. I’m sad I’m heading out tomorrow.
But tonight is my last night with Richelle. So it’s on. Time to eat Chinese food (yes, Chinese food.) lol. Then tomorrow she and I travel back in time!
(And because posts are more interesting with pictures, the one above is in Angkor Wat. Asian tourists always complete a picture.)
Posted on April 24, 2013
By the time I actually arrived in Cambodia, I had been traveling for five days (traveling back from New York, trying to travel but missing my flight and the three days of flights to get to Cambodia). To arrive in Cambodia I just felt like I was home. Everything, although foreign, was still somehow familiar. This is my second time visiting Cambodia, but it’s changed so much since three years ago when I last visited. Cambodia is adjusting to foreign tourists, and somehow it’s losing its charm that I first fell in love with three years ago.
On my first full day in Cambodia, Richelle and I went to Beng Mealea about two hours northeast by tuk tuk of Siem Reap where we’re staying. I must say, Beng Mealea is freakin awesome. It’s like a juggle gym and the temple in Tomb Raider (Ta Prohm) combined. You can climb through the ruins or walk on boardwalks through and above the ruins. I loved it.