Our 2013 Cambodia workshop has been designed to give participants an insight into local Cambodian life and culture. We will visit Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, where we’ll learn about the country’s recent history, with particular reference to the reign of the Khmer Rouge. From there, we will travel overland to Battambang to document rural life around the unique “Bamboo Railway”. With a visit to some of the most photogenic parts of the ancient Angkor temple complex, this workshop will give photographers a wonderful introduction to Cambodian life, history and culture.
The workshop is suitable for photographers who are already familiar with their camera gear but who wish to learn how to create compelling visual stories. The workshop leaders; Jack Kurtz and Gavin Gough; are both experienced professional photographers who understand what is required to produce compelling stories and much of our time will be spent constructing a visual narrative, concentrating on certain aspects of the locations we visit.
You will learn that effective storytelling is not only about exposure settings and composition (although those things are clearly important) but that meaningful photo essays are built from research, planning, preparation, and defining your goals in advance.
We will have time to concentrate on three main stories: The S-21 Museum where evidence of the Khmer Rouge still hangs heavy in the air, the Bamboo Train which is perhaps the only train like it in the world and the world-famous temples of Angkor.
Our aim is to equip photographers with the skills required to think about images in terms of complete stories and to compile meaningful, memorable visual essays.
Fri June 28
- Arrive Phnom Penh early morning
- Check-in at our hotel (1 night)
- Lunch in Phnom Penh
- Visit Toul Sleng S-21 Genocide Museum. We will visit the museum, which was once a prison camp used during the Khmer Rouge regime. We will talk about this period in the history of Cambodia and learn what happened during that period. This is a challenging museum to visit and equally challenging to photograph. So we will discuss ways in which photographers can bring the story to life and how best to capture images which convey the drama and chilling feeling of the prison in a visually cohesive way. In my experience, photographing at Tuol Sleng prompts us to think very carefully about how and why we make photographs.
- Dinner at “Friends” restaurant. Friends is an organisation devoted to providing homeless people with opportunities to learn a skill. Nearly all the staff were once street children who now run this successful restaurant. Our visit will support the project.
Sat June 29
- Early departure for Battambang
- Check-in at the Bambu Hotel (2 nights)
- Afternoon trip to the Bamboo Train. The “Bamboo Train” is an abandoned railway, dating from Cambodia’s colonial past. In recent years, local people have been using the railway to commute and transport goods. Using old train bogies, they have constructed basic bamboo platforms and power the trains using small, 6HP engines. It’s a spine-jotling, bumpy but fun-filled ride on the train. As well as photographing the train, we will stop at villages along the track and spend time photographing rural Cambodian life along the railway. This is where the visual storytelling part of our workshop really comes to life. We will look at ways in which you might construct a meaningful story, so that you can create more than just stand-alone images and leave with a comprehensive story of the Bamboo Train and village life.
- Dinner in Battambang
Sun June 30
- Today starts early, with a pre-sunrise tuk-tuk ride to the Bamboo Train
- We will return to our Bamboo Train stories this morning, re-visiting locations scouted-out the day before. One of the great skills for visual storytellers is finding great locations and then returning when the light is at its most favourable.
- Brunch at the hotel
- Afternoon free-time to relax, process or join a Lightroom Tutorial with Jack Kurtz and Gavin Gough
- Return to the Bamboo Railway for the afternoon light. Our final visit to the railway and local villages will allow us to complete our stories and find those all-important “closing shots” to bring our stories to a conclusion.
- Dinner in Phnom Penh with review of our Bamboo Train stories
Mon July 1
- Early morning departure for Siem Reap
- Check in at Shinta Mani (2 nights)
- Lunch in Siem Reap
- Afternoon visit to Angkor with sunset at Angkor Wat or The Bayon temple
- Dinner in Siem Reap
Tue July 2
- Early morning visit to Angkor temple complex, arriving pre-dawn.
- We will walk through the entire Angkor Wat complex, starting at the eastern gate (away from the tourist crowds) and seeing the first light of the day light up the majestic Angkor architecture.
- Visit Preah Khan, a temple with large trees growing out of the abandoned temple buildings. There are lots of opportunities for interesting architectural and landscape photography here.
- Lunch in Siem Reap
- We return to Angkor in the afternoon, travelling by Tuk-Tuk and finding a location where the light is at the most favourable.
- Dinner in Siem Reap and final opportunity to share our work.
Wed July 3
- Breakfast at hotel
- Transfer to Siem Reap airport for onward flights
- NB: Although the workshop officially closes at this point, there is an opportunity for anyone who wishes to extend their stay to continue to enjoy the hotel amenities or to return to the Angkor temple complex
Please note the official workshop start and end times:
Friday June 28, 12:00pm – WORKSHOP STARTS in PHNOM PENH
Wednesday July 3rd, 10am – WORKSHOP ENDS in SIEM REAP
We recommend that you book the following flights, if you are travelling to and from Bangkok.
Friday 28th June: Bangkok Airways PG931 – Departs BKK 08:10, Arrives PNH 09:20
Tuesday 3rd July: Bangkok Airways PG914 – Departs REP 15:50, Arrives BKK 17:05
If you are travelling to or from another destination, please book flights to reach Phnom Penh in plenty of time to join the workshop.
Although it is possible to obtain a visa on arrival in Phnom Penh, we strongly advise you to obtain a visa in advance. This can be done quickly and easily using Cambodia’s online visa service. This will avoid the need to queue for a visa upon arrival in Cambodia. Please apply for your visa in plenty of time, allow at least one week for your application to be processed.
Online e-visa application: http://www.mfaic.gov.kh/evisa/
With one seasoned photojournalist and one experienced editorial travel photographer, this workshop will be led by pro photographers with a unique combination of skills and experience. Our aim is to share as much as possible and to teach participants the skills and techniques which allow us to research, document and produce stories which come together as a complete body of work.
Participants will learn much more than how to use a camera. We expect that you will already be familiar with the basic camera functions and be ready to move to the level where you are thinking beyond making solitary images, making stories which work together as a cohesive collection.
Jack is a seasoned photojournalist and documentary travel photographer with nearly 30 years of experience in daily photojournalism. With such a wealth of experience, Jack is not only an expert in creating meaningful, in-depth photo essays, he is also adept at researching and writing about the stories he documents. Jack drinks coffee.
Gavin is an experienced editorial, documentary and travel photographer. His images have been used in international magazines and newspapers including National Geographic, Geo, Vanity Fair, New York Times, The Guardian and have appeared on everything from postage stamps to billboards. Creating stories for editorial clients for many years means that Gavin has a great deal of experience in constructing cohesive visual stories. Gavin drinks tea.
- Once you’ve arrived in Phnom Penh, we aim to cover all your costs, leaving you free to concentrate on photography.
- All accommodation. Double or twin rooms but single occupancy (no need to share, no single supplement)
- All transport from airport transfers to mini-bus, tuk-tuks and bamboo trains
- All entrance fees including S-21 Museum and Angkor Temple fees
- All meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner
- All service fees and tips
- Plenty of water and soft drinks
- All tuition, reviews, critiques and on-site assistance
What’s not included?
- Your return airfare, arriving in Phnom Penh, leaving from Siem Reap
- Visa fee (We recommend you apply online at http://goo.gl/5jUdi and obtain your e-visa in advance)
- Alcoholic drinks, souvenirs, laundry and other hotel bills