Notes on one of my most controversial photos

Cambodia - Monkey drinking Fanta photo by Lola Akinmade Åkerström

I was traveling through Cambodia as a photojournalist with a nonprofit organization, and on one of our days off in Phnom Penh, we decided to visit the heritage site (and tourist trap) Wat Phnom with its elephant park and resident monkeys to relax a bit.

As monkeys of varying sizes scurried around interacting with visitors, I noticed they were being fed snacks, fast food, and soda. A man walked up to the monkey above and handed it a can of Fanta and it started downing the can like it was sweet nectar from the gods.

I took the shot.

While in terms of composition, it’s one of my personal favorites – the human-like gestures and expression of absolute enjoyment on the monkey’s face; it’s also one of my least favorite because monkeys really shouldn’t be cooling off on hot and humid days with Fanta.

It’s just wrong.

View more photos from my Cambodia imagebank.