While exploring Battambang, we noticed a small photo shop filled with people dashing around wearing sparkly costumes. We passed it a few times on our travels and it always seemed to be busy. What exactly is going on in there? Popping our heads in, there were local people wearing make up and dressed in traditional costumes having their photo taken. Apparently this is a common pre-wedding activity. So much fun!
This doesn't happen just in Battambang of course. There are many places around Cambodia that offer a similar service. Many photo shops have signs and portraits up of people in traditional clothing. For $2 USD per photo for a minimum of 4 or 5 photos, you can sit down in a chair, get your hair and makeup done, put on sparkly outfits and get your photo taken.
I got the impression that this particular photo shop didn't get a lot of foreigners in there but they seemed very enthusiastic about having us try it out.
All in all, it took about 90 minutes to have my makeup and hair done, and to have Andrew and I dressed in two different costumes. We were taken out to the back of the photo store and I sat down on a little stool where my male make up artist started working wonders on my face. He started by shaping my eyebrows and adding a lot of concealer, foundation, blusher, eye-shadow and lipstick to my face. He topped it off by adding the longest fake eyelashes I have ever seen.
After the makeup, I had extensions and a wig added to my hair. By this time, I started to not look like me any more. Andrew and I then had our traditional Cambodian costumes pinned to our bodies. Andrew even had his tackle moved around by a young man who was struggling to explain where it needed to be to avoid getting pinned. Chalk that one up to the language barrier.
We had seven photos done with two different outfit changes in total. We paid our $30 USD, apparently we had fifteen photos taken, and were told to return the next day to pick up our photographs and a CD of photos.
When we came back the next day, we looked at the photos and were so pleased! Yes, we had been airbrushed to the maximum and looked rather doll-like but we looked beautiful. What a fun day. We really recommend this experience. Now I want to get wedding photos taken in every country I visit!
If you see one of these shops, go in. Don't be scared.
Enjoy our photos below!