Thomas Cristofoletti

Freelance multimedia journalist

“I love photography and journalism because they allow me to partake in the life and history of Cambodia”

Thomas, a freelance multimedia journalist from Riva del Garda, Trento, has lived in Phnom Penh since 2012. After obtaining a diploma in Design and Visual Communication for Advertising at IED (European Institute of Design) in Milan, he worked as an Art Director in the city and then in Madrid, Spain. He travelled to Cambodia for the first time in 2010 and moved to the country two years later. We are pleased to have him here today to learn more about his passion for photography and experience of the Kingdom of Wonder.

Hi Thomas, how did you come to visit Cambodia?

My first time was in 2010, when I accepted work for a non-profit organisation here. During my first visit,  I caught dengue fever and I had to stay for several months. This setback allowed me to learn more about Phnom Penh’s journalism and photography communities. I returned to Cambodia in 2012 having decided to start a career as a professional multimedia journalist, following a passion for photography and travels

Would you like to tell us more about your job?

I define myself as a freelance video maker and photographic reporter: Journalism accounts for approximately 20% of my time and the rest is reserved for video making. I usually collaborate with governmental agencies, multinational or local non-profits. Sometimes, I accept commercial jobs, but it is not my thing, I would rather work on projects with “added-value”.

What do you love most about Cambodia?

I really admire Cambodian resilience. Although they have gone through hard times, historically, they always have a smile on their faces and find the inner strength to carry on. I love living in Phnom Penh. I think the city’s quality of life is much higher than that of the other capitals in the region. Cambodia is “easier”, as everything here feels more accessible and human-sized compared to Manila or Bangkok.

Is there anything you struggled to get used to?

Both personally and professionally life, I sometimes encounter a different mentality in Cambodia. Here people are very kind and accommodating to the point that sometimes they would rather people-please even if their half-truths bring about misunderstandings and setbacks. They live life lightly and this can cause them to forget to mention key details, especially in work settings. Their empathy and calmness can be a double-edged sword. They can be positive but sometimes get under people’s skin.

What is your typical day?

Being a freelancer my days change based on the client’s needs. I usually divide my days into two main categories: on-field when I work on projects, or at home, when I edit or look for new stories to tell.

What do you do in your free time?

Before COVID, I used to spend six months in Cambodia and six months abroad for work, with an average of 70 flights per year so I didn’t have much spare time. I enjoyed travel, with all its phases: airport queues, flights, and the discovery of new places and cultures. Every time I travelled I added a few leisure days to my stay to explore new places as a tourist. Since COVID travelling is quite limited, so I’ve started doing yoga!

Have you continued any “Italian” habits here?

Coffee is something I can’t picture myself without. Years ago, irrespective of the great number of coffee places dotted around Phnom Penh, it was quite hard to find a good espresso. Today, it is easy to find good Italian products.

What is your favourite spot in Cambodia?

My job has given me the opportunity to see jaw-dropping landscapes. My absolute favourite are: Sambor Prei Kuk, a group of pre-Angkor temples located near to Kampong Thom surrounded by lush vegetation.

Where do you see yourself in the future? Cambodia, Italy, or… somewhere new?

It’s hard to say, especially in light of COVID. I hope we can get back to normal soon so I can start exploring the world again. I will always have an eye on Asia and, particularly, Cambodia.

? To make a connection with Thomas Cristofoletti, visit his profile on our Business Directory here.

✍️ Federico Rosmarini

? Thomas Cristofoletti