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Photo by James GrantMy name is Conor Wall and I am a mess. I am a 34-year-old qualified electronic engineer, a retired forklift driver, erstwhile waiter, one-time labourer, and former champion English teacher, who is now a full-time freelance photographer and chronically injury-prone, part-time, football superstar in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The story of how I came to be here starts in 2004 when, at the tender age of 25, I left home on a one-year adventure to South East Asia and Australia. The moment I crossed the Cambodian border, I knew there was something special about this country. For eight hours, I was thrown violently around a rickety, old bus, as it travelled on the most potholed stretch of road I have ever seen. Coming from Ireland, I know a thing or two about bad roads, but even I was impressed with the very high standard of potholes in Asia. The bus driver averaged 500 horn beeps per hour as he snaked the 1960s-made chariot of rust between craters in an attempt to find the least bumpy route. Now and again, he would turn around to make sure that none of his passengers had been killed. When only reports of superficial bruising and minor bleeding were transmitted back to him, he smiled toothlessly, nodded his head in approval, tooted his horn two or three times in celebration, and finally turned his head again to concentrate on avoiding the cavities littering the road ahead.

So this is Cambodia eh? I like it.

One visa extension led to another and then another. Every time I left to continue my travelling, I always missed the place and inevitably found myself back here again and again. Eventually in 2005, after a year in Australia, I decided to stop off in Cambodia for one month, en route back home to Ireland. Even though my flight tickets were paid all the way to Cork, I never left.

For some reason, things just seemed to gel for me here. After only one month, I could speak Khmer pretty clearly and even read and write (no mean feat for a script that initially looks like spaghetti and consists of 56 lower case symbols, 33 subscript symbols and a whopping 79 phonetic sounds). Then I slipped seamlessly into the Khmer laidback lifestyle by forcing myself to do a backbreaking three-and-a-half hours English teaching a day to pay the bills.

Photo by James Grant
I kept promising myself that I would sort my life out as soon as I received the divine inspiration I had been waiting for. What to do with my life? Career, house, car, wife? I figured when I eventually knew what career I wanted, I would immerse myself in it and in all likelihood spend 30 odd years slaving away. So what’s the point in working too hard now when I would only be doing something I didn’t really want to do? Waiting for divine inspiration seemed like a much better option.

Well, somewhere in the middle of this lounging about waiting for a signal from the Big Man upstairs, I purchased my first ever camera, a 3.2MP point-and-shoot, and started taking an odd photograph or two. I had never been interested in photography, but before I knew it I was studying online photography tutorials, getting up at insane hours of the morning to go on personal photography assignments, and upgrading cameras. Without even realising it, I had fallen in love with photography. Every day while I taught hyperactive, mischievous students in school, my mind wandered to possible locations, escaped on adventures and visualised shots. I was hooked.

It turns out that the divine career inspiration I was waiting for came in a more subtle manner than I had expected. No parting of the clouds, no thunderous proclamations from the heavens, no visions or prophecies, and thankfully no near-death life-changing experiences. Instead, photography quietly sneaked up on me from behind and mugged me.

Fast-forward nine years, and I am still here in lovely Cambodia. For the past five years, lazy English-teaching days have been replaced with much-longer ones as a full-time freelance photographer. In that time, I have gained a wide range of experience including portraiture, interior, travel, and food photography for a countless number of corporate and editorial clients. The highlight of my photography career to date was in 2010, when, along with my long-term photographer and publisher friend Hans Kemp, I released the photography book entitled Carrying Cambodia, which takes a light-hearted look at the jaw-dropping ingenuity of everyday transportation on Cambodian roads. It has since become an international best seller and has sold more than 15,000 copies.

As well as working for private clients, I am currently working on my second photography book, which I hope to release in 2015. It has been nine years since my memorable, maiden, Cambodian bus journey and I still love it here as much as I did then. At the time of writing, I am on my 16th Cambodian extension visa. How many more I will go through before I feel like moving on, I don’t know. Until then though, I will keep taking photographs.

Tel: +855 (0) 12 214808 (Cambodia)

Email: info@conorwall.com

Carrying Cambodia – Released 2010:

Unbelievable feats of transportation are an everyday occurrence on the streets of Cambodia. Tuk tuks, cyclos, cars, trucks, motorbikes and bicycles transport loads that defy your wildest imagination. Photographers Conor Wall and Hans Kemp documented this unique street culture resulting in this amazing 144-page book loaded with incredible photographs that will forever change your definition of "packed."

Purchase Carrying Cambodia on Purchase Carrying Cambodia on Amazon

Coming Soon - Due for Release in 2015:

Conor is currently working on his second photography book, which will be released in 2015. Watch this space.

Carrying Cambodia – Released 2010:

View Carrying Cambodia SlideshowUnbelievable feats of transportation are an everyday occurrence on the streets of Cambodia. Tuk tuks, cyclos, cars, trucks, motorbikes and bicycles transport loads that defy your wildest imagination. Photographers Conor Wall and Hans Kemp documented this unique street culture resulting in this amazing 144-page book loaded with incredible photographs that will forever change your definition of "packed."

Purchase Carrying Cambodia on Purchase Carrying Cambodia on Amazon

Coming Soon - Due for Release in 2015:

Conor is currently working on his second photography book, which will be released in 2015. Watch this space.