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Family Travel

The Windows in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Me Ra Koh

Windows are powerful, especially the ancient ones.  The window in Angkor Wat, Cambodia inspired my artist heart.

Every window serves a purpose whether it’s in an ancient setting or our home. Windows let light and fresh air in.  They allow us to see outside of where we are.  Windows frame a specific setting.  They bring definition, lines and a sense of opening.

When we first walked the ruins of Angkor Wat, I was overwhelmed with trying to choose what to photograph first.  Everything about the ruins felt magical. 

For the best photos, I first assessed our set up.

The sun was right over the top of our head, and it was 100 degree heat.  The dramatic lighting we talked about in last week’s post was not an option.  Sunrise was long gone.

I let my camera hang from its strap as I walked.  I tried to slow myself down within so I could observe what was around me.  My heart was searching for a single creative element I could capture.

Was their a design element capturing me, tugging on my creative spirit? 

I began to fall in love with the windows of Angkor Wat, Cambodia. They have been meticulously preserved for thousands of years. Some of the windows were taller than me. 

Others looked like small, ornamental boxes cut from the detailed fabric of the wall.

Family Travel and Photography Tips: The Windows in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

What struck me most about the windows in Angkor Wat is that they all looked out onto something specific.  The view was always unto something else that would inspire the soul.

Whether the view was a secondary entrance to the temple,

Family Travel and Photography Tips: The Windows in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

or the view of another window that looked onto a scene of a dancing woman—the dimensions of all the views felt like echoes.

Family Travel and Photography Tips: The Windows in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The green trees swaying outside the window below gave the whole scene a surreal feel.  It was like another world was waiting outside the dark room I was standing in.  I couldn’t help but think of all the childhood books where the kids walked through portals into another fairy tale like world.

Family Travel and Photography Tips: The Windows in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

This view happened to look out on two smiling faces carved into the stone.

Family Travel and Photography Tips: The Windows in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

I wonder what the intentional purpose was behind the various window views. 

Were the views meant to draw people out of their momentary stances? 

I think about all the times I’ve found myself in a room, surrounded by four limiting walls, feeling like there is nowhere to go. 

I feel trapped by my lack of imagination and lack of faith in the unknown.  What would it be like to see a view that was outside of my scope of possibility…how would it affect my soul?

I wish all the windows of my house looked out onto something inspiring.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to be surrounded in such beauty and mystery like the monks of Angkor Wat had been.  But since I’m not a monk, living in the jungles of Cambodia, how can I create windows of possibility, windows that widen my imagination, that breathe faith for the impossible—how can I create these windows in my every day life at home…for my family?

Family Travel and Photography Tips: The Windows in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

One idea is to pin up magazine clippings representing dreams I carry inside my heart. 

So when I feel the four walls closing in on me, I can remind myself of my dreams that exist outside of the here and now.  What about you?   How have you created windows for your creative spirit?  How do you keep the view of magic and wonder alive?

I would love to hear!


Me Ra

Family Travel and Photography Tips: The Windows in Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Windows are also a fun way to practice shooting silhouettes. I’ve listed out the specific steps in my Silhouette Photo Recipe for you to try with your family!


  1. jeramy says:

    good stuff mera! windows also give you something to clean. 🙂

  2. Erin says:

    One way for me to keep the view alive is to scrapbook. Each page I create is like a window to the past, which reminds me of all the special, and sometimes plain old ordinary, moments in my life. It has also helped me to be more creative when taking photographs. I find myself looking through the lens and thinking about how to make them more interesting for when I scrapbook. 🙂

  3. Jamie says:

    Wow beautiful pictures!! I had a question about the ISO…. I was wondering why your ISO was set from 200-320. I see that some of the shots were taken from a dark interior, is this the reason?

  4. Jamie says:

    Oh meant to say on the last post that I LOVE Picture D! It is so three dimensional and just leads me right through that passageway!

  5. Rhonda says:

    I would LOVE to have windows all over my house that would give me glimpses of inspiration and encouragement, creativity and peace. As I sit pondering this I think the immediate answer for me is to journal more. When God opens those windows in my soul, I need to be journaling the view – the inspiration, encouragement, creativity, peace, etc… I think I need to get better at using the notepad in my phone because I often get those glimpses when I don’t have a journal at hand and the “immediate” is a very different thing for me than the “retrospect” or “reflection”. Thanks for this!
    Oh and, I too LOVE image D.

  6. Sandi B. says:

    I loved today’s post — but I seem to be struggling with that “artist” within. As I drove to work this morning (Spring decided to give us 6 inches of wet snow today, I was sitting at a stop light pondering the beautiful bunch of birch trees and seeing a photograph of it. It was so beautiful to me and had I not been at a stop light I would have grabbed for my camera. But then I struggle with do I take this picture for me because I find beauty in it, but for most others — its a photo of trees. So I ask the question — this passion I have for photography — is it just for me I take these pictures for? Thanks for the opportunity to describe this. If nothing else, I didn’t keep the reflection inside 🙂

  7. Wonderful post and beautiful pictures MeRa. I actually placed 7 more windows on the walls of my home.These are old antique paned glass windows and doors that have been a wonderful way to display some of my favorite photographs. I am inspired daily as I look at these images. They help me imagine the infinate possibilities of beauty to yet be captured and enjoyed. This has truely helped keep my creative spirit alive or at least comforted on those not so inspiring days.

  8. Me Ra says:

    Sandi, I think you take the photograph for you, but you keep yourself open to the unexpected things that can happen for others when you answer the creative call within. Does that make sense? I used to think that all my dreams were so centered around me, my heart, my healing, my needs. I could not even fathom that those dreams lived out–would mature into entities that would bring healing and encouragement to others. Sandi, if the passion is just for you right now, I say let it be exactly that with confidence. But don’t be surprised if it turns into something that feeds many, even before you know it.

    Kim, wow, what a GREAT idea. Windows around the house with photos on them–love it!

    Jamie, thanks for your question about ISO. My rule of thumb is to keep my ISO as low as possible as much as possible. I’m always trying to see if I can get away with 100 or 200 ISO. If it bumps up, it means I didn’t have enough light. But once I have enough light to hand hold the camera, I go for it. Hope that helps. If not, tell me how I can help!


  9. fresh flowers, music, beautiful lighting and a light candle scent surround my workplace. since i don’t have a direct view, i inspire all my other senses.
    live beautifully!

  10. I just did an artist way exercise where I was asked to list “touchstones” (i.e. my favorite things). Some on my list are; puffy white clouds, baby toes, fresh sheets, beach glass, the color blue, the sound of my camera shutter… I mean to make a board of these things some how either by photos or the actual thing to look at when I get that closed in feeling. Thanks for this post Me Ra!

  11. Addie says:

    Such an inspiring post. I love them all but especially “F” because it speaks to me of journeying into a lighter happier place. (Something our family really needs right now.) And this post has churned my thoughts about how I’m drawn to old doorways. There is an old abandoned church on my way to my parents home and every time I ride past I am riveted by the aged door. I’m thinking about doing a series on old doorways, just for personal creative reasons. Thanks again, Me Ra for sharing and inspiring.

  12. Marla-Dee says:

    I absolutely love windows too and I thought I was the only one! These are so beautiful. Thanks for the recipes and tips!

  13. Karen Kane says:

    I had the same fascination with windows in Angkor Wat and the other temples in Cambodia and Vietnam. I didn’t quite go for the silhouettes like you did but have some great almost silhouettes. Wish you could see them. After looking at your pictures and reading about how to take silhouettes and I be better prepared in the future,