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Why Is The Sky Not Blue?

“Why Is The Sky Not Blue?” This is the question that inspired the start of my photography career. It is an unusual question, but it sparked my interest and a continued quest to learn as much as I can about photography.

International LUXURY Hotel & RESORT Photographer

The Story of my origins in hotel & resort photography

The following is the remarkable story of how I started photography and what led to my passion for shooting hotels and resorts, developing the required skills along the way. At the end of this post, I will share one of my first hotel room images, which is difficult to do. We all have a tendency to display only our best work—and this hotel room image was not among the best.  But every single journey has to start somewhere, and that hotel room photo was my starting point.

I will need to go back a few years (quite a few years, in fact) to when I was growing up. I spent most of my early years moving around the world because of my parent’s businesses. We spent time in South Africa, Brazil, Australia, England, France and the Seychelles. I am always extremely grateful for this period as we visited some stunning places and stayed in some amazing hotels. I have continued this lifestyle in my profession as a photographer.

photographer cambodia

This has to be one of my favorite images. One of the cargo vessels that cruise up and down the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers is beached on Koh Dach for repairs

photographer cambodia

This has to be one of my favorite images. One of the cargo vessels that cruise up and down the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers is beached on Koh Dach for repairs

During my years in Secondary School, I had an interest in photography. I was the president of the Photography Clubs, and we were responsible to attend all the school events, take photographs, and develop the images for school publications. However, with all the moving about, I never had the opportunity to continue with photography as a young person.

In the mid-2000s, I was working in IT in one of the main telecommunication companies in the United Kingdom. This was not something I wanted to continue as a career, and since I was used to warmer climates, the weather was not something I enjoyed. So I packed everything away and headed back to Southeast Asia, to places I never visited before, such as Singapore, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.

photographer cambodia

Inside the locomotive shed at Phnom Penh railway station. All the old steam and diesel locomotives lay rusting in the locked shed. These photos also played a big part in starting my career in hotel photography, as I will explain shortly

photographer cambodia

Inside the locomotive shed at Phnom Penh railway station. All the old steam and diesel locomotives lay rusting in the locked shed. These photos also played a big part in starting my career in hotel photography, as I will explain shortly

To keep myself occupied during my travels, I purchased a small point-and-shoot camera. Being in such a photogenic part of the world, I spent my days capturing the local culture and scenery. As I continued with my travels, one thing that always caught my attention was that the skies in my photographs were not as blue as in real life. I couldn’t figure out why. All the skies were completely blown out, pure white, and hazy. They lacked contrast. When I had half-decent Internet access, I started researching how I could make my skies blue. This led to me trying to absorb as much information about photography as I could.

Fast forward a few years. I had settled in Cambodia and photography became my main hobby. Almost daily, I would take my motorbike for a long ride on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The scenery, culture, and daily life were inspiring, and the people were so friendly. This environment made for beautiful and fascinating photographs.

photographer cambodia

With Phnom Penh skyline in the distance, life carries on along the river banks

As I shot more and more, I started to gravitate toward different genres of photography.

Landscape and Daily Life

Phnom Penh is still a small city, so you do not have to go far to get away from the traffic and the dust. Unique opportunities abound to capture the experiences and scenery of daily life in the city. Shooting landscapes everyday gave me an in-depth understanding of natural light, shadows, and composition.

photographer cambodia

5 minutes away from Phnom Penh airport, the railways lines head South before they were put back in use

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photographer cambodia

5 minutes away from Phnom Penh airport, the railways lines head South before they were put back in use

Light Painting

The more technical side of photography caught my interest as I started experimenting in editing images. I loved to work with light painting, which involves creating and capturing trails of light. I practiced moving small lights in a predetermined pattern, and spinning balls of molten steel wool over my head. The results were amazing! These are very difficult images to capture, and they are very editing-intensive. So, these days I do not mind spending a few hours editing an image to make it perfect.

photographer cambodia

Twin steel wool shot at the same time. The molten steel wool creates a beautiful pattern as it spins around on a chain

photographer cambodia

Twin steel wool shot at the same time. The molten steel wool creates a beautiful pattern as it spins around on a chain

Urbex

My natural inquisitiveness led me to explore and photograph abandoned man-made structures. Locating the sites and gaining access to them was a challenge. But once I was in, there was always that “Wow!” moment when you were the first person to enter a space in over a decade. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dust, the way the owners left it many years ago. This really was my start in interior photography.

photographer cambodia

There is something about discovering something which has remained hidden and locked away for years. The kitchens from a huge abandoned restaurant complex on the outskirts of Phnom Penh

photographer cambodia

There is something about discovering something which has remained hidden and locked away for years. The kitchens from a huge abandoned restaurant complex on the outskirts of Phnom Penh

Cityscapes

I take great joy in finding the best vantage points to capture the Phnom Penh skyline under amazing Cambodian sunsets. And I am love capturing many local destinations and attractions. Photographing the beauty of Phnom Penh also led to an interest in photographing architecture.

photographer cambodia

An epic sunset over Phnom Penh

photographer cambodia

An epic sunset over Phnom Penh

Hotels & Resorts

After photographing the locomotive shed and sharing the images on Social Media, a local hospitality group contacted me to see if I wanted to exhibit the work in an art gallery at one of their hotels. In turn, I asked if I could shoot one of their hotel rooms. I never looked back since then! As I look back at these photos, I can see so much wrong with the technique, composition, staging, and editing of the photos. But it was the start of my professional journey.

phnom penh hotel photographer

One of my very first hotel interior photos

phnom penh hotel photographer

One of my very first hotel interior photos

After photographing the locomotive shed and sharing the images on Social Media, a local hospitality group contacted me to see if I wanted to exhibit the work in an art gallery at one of their hotels. In turn, I asked if I could shoot one of their hotel rooms. I never looked back since then! As I look back at these photos, I can see so much wrong with the technique, composition, staging, and editing of the photos. But it was the start of my professional journey.

phnom penh hotel photographer

My most recent hotel interior photo

phnom penh hotel photographer

My most recent hotel interior photo

And to end it all off, my most recent hotel room photo. Hopefully, it’s a little better than the previous image. ?

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Thanks for indulging me by reading this long post. But I wanted to provide the background of how I got into photography. I hope this helps the reader understand why photographing hotels and resorts is my passion and not done solely for the financial benefits.

And, one more thing, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. What are the origins of your passion? Share your stories below!

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I strongly recommend Bruce for architectural and product shots

Bruce has an eye for detail, a feel for lighting, a flair for perspectives! An honest and friendly character without attitude who brings pictures to life!
I strongly recommend Bruce for architectural and product shots.

Noel Omar Furrer , General Manager | Sun & Moon Urban Hotel
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The quality of the images is great

I am really happy with you and your work. The quality of the images is great.

Sokleng You , Assistant Director of Sales | Dara Hotels
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Extremely Professional and Talented

Bruce is an extremely professional and talented photographer. Throughout the process of photographing a rooftop bar he was extremely patient and a calm communicator going beyond the scope to photograph other hotel elements during the shoot. The post production process was fast and efficient and were extremely happy with the end result.

Camilla Coburn Davis , PR Manager | Minor Hotels
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Best Pictures

Bruce did the best pictures we managed to get for our properties!

Alexis de Suremain , Founder | MAADS
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Refreshed our OTA profiles

You did a great job regarding PODs, sunrise lights were amazing. These images have refreshed our OTAs profiles. We appreciate your effort and time.

Lubov Chinaru , GRO | Independence Hotel by DARA
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Professional and skillful

‘Professional and skillful’ is the phrase that comes to mind when I think about Bruce. I hired Bruce as a freelance photographer late last year after coming highly recommended and viewing his online portfolio. During this time he updated our photo library with some amazing photos. Above all, I was impressed with Bruce’s ability to capture the best of our locations under different lighting conditions and the attention to detail he has put into the process. And, of course, his easygoing nature and flexibility made the cooperation more fruitful and productive. For any hotel or property that requires high-quality photos, Bruce would be the one I would highly recommend.

Kosal Sou , General Manager | Green Palace Hotel
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Best photographer in the country for commercial photo shooting

Bruce made some photographs of several of the properties I was working for at MAADS, and he did such a great job that we called him back to ask him to work for us! From the time I spent in Cambodia I would definitely recommend him as the best photographer in the country for commercial photo shooting (architecture outdoor/indoor). Amazing lighting, brightness, contrast... nothing to change, everything is ready to use and to impress 😉

Alicia Guthert , Communications Manager | MAADS
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Timely in both communications as well as processing

I am happy to pass on that recommendation to anyone seeking a talented, professional, and creative photographer in the Kingdom. After struggling to capture our brand-new boutique hotel (Monsoon Bassac Hotel, Phnom Penh) myself, I contacted Bruce via his website. From start to finish, he was an absolute professional- timely in both communications as well as processing, patient with our numerous requests, and able to capture our hotel's difficult angles and lighting in a way that kept things realistic but also showcased their beauty. His photographs are a true representation of what guests will find in our hotel, and we proudly use his photographs on all of our media.
Bruce is able to walk into a room and immediately see potential. He is flexible, and takes your ideas and brand identity into account when creating his images. I could not be prouder to have his photos representing our brand, and I wholeheartedly recommend his services.

Genevieve Cook , General Manager | Monsoon Bassac Hotel
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Professional results, production and timeline.

In terms of result delivery in making the photographs, include the production and timeline, Bruce is a very professional photographer.

Nickie Samrith , Marketing Manager | Sokha Hotels and Resorts

​If you enjoyed this article, take a second to share it on your favorite social media channel.

And if you have any feedback or questions, please leave a comment below!

About The Author

Bruce is an experienced luxury boutique hotel photographer based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He specializes in brand imagery for hotels and resorts. Working with high-end hotels and resorts in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, China, Myanmar, Bali, Singapore and Maldives

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