Apsara Dancer Portraits, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Monday Memories: Siem Reap Dance Troupe Portraits

Sometimes, as a photographer, you go to an event where you think you might be able to make good photographs for your story, but when you arrive you just know that it’s not going to work. That’s what happened when we were staying at the gorgeous Amansara resort in Siem Reap where there was a dance troupe performing. So I ended up making these Siem Reap dance troupe portraits…

Normally the troupe performs outside but for various reasons the show was brought inside. The backdrop of the library, while lovely as a library, didn’t work at all as a set for the show, with the brightly lit surroundings attracting attention away from the performance.

Apsara Dancer Portraits, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

However, the event did give me an opportunity to make some portraits of the members of the troupe once they had finished their performance. The moment I got the idea, I ran back to our room and grabbed a light and light stand and transformed the library into a studio in a couple of minutes. I used a very shallow depth of field to blur out the background as much as possible, making sure that the focus was sharply on each performers eyes. Using only a key light and a reflector, I posed and photographed the whole troupe within ten minutes.

It was great fun and an example of how, as a photographer, you can quickly turn a situation around. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to get prints made for them while I was there, so I’ve uploaded high resolution shots to my server for the dancers or the resort to make prints from. The dancers can now use these photos as ‘headshots’ as they say in the entertainment business.

It’s just a small way to give back.

Siem Reap dance troupe portraits. Details: Nikon D700, 85mm F1.4D @ F2.5 @ 5/1000th second @ ISO400.

Amansara resort, Siem Reap



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Terence Carter is an editorial food and travel photographer and infrequent travel writer with a love of photographing people, places and plates of food. After living in the Middle East for a dozen years, he settled in South-East Asia a dozen years ago with his wife, travel and food writer and sometime magazine editor Lara Dunston.

8 thoughts on “Monday Memories: Siem Reap Dance Troupe Portraits”

  1. Well, you’ll have to be our ‘Local Knowledge’ person or provide specialist advice to our readers in return :) Terence has a real talent, doesn’t he? I just love his portraits.

  2. These are amazing! I love how you made them feel comfortable enough to have their personalities shine through. Beautiful.

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