Photography Holidays Cambodia Angkor Wat ការស្វាគមន៍

For the Cambodian kings of old, Angkor was literally heaven on earth. Successive rulers sought to outstrip their ancestors in size and symmetry, adding more head-turning temples to the proud capital of the Khmer empire, and the results are staggering. Angkor has the grand scale of the Great Wall, the beauty of the Taj Mahal and the spatial symbolism of the pyramids, rolled into one. For buffs of any kind, its paradise. Welcome to our Cambodia Photography Holiday.

Across ten galvanising days, our team use the backdrop of this UNESCO World Heritage site – and the fascinating hub of Siem Reap – to reveal the craft of stunning photography, with breathtaking results. From the basics to the fine artistry of great shots, we will guide you step-by-step to attain jaw-dropping standards.

And to soothe any creative angst, our Cambodia photography holiday is held at one of Asia’s most renowned luxury hotels, a converted French governors mansion that melds Art Deco elements with modern chic for an atmosphere of sophisticated and discriminating splendour. The hotel grounds are surrounded by a breezy, tropical ambience, with a luxury spa, library, pool and  and stunning colonial terraces.

Experience old Asia in style.

Angkor Wat is actually the Angkor Archaeological Park, which covers 154 square miles and contains scores of other Khmer temples dating from between the ninth and 15th centuries. Each has its own allure. Banteay Srei has intricate carvings of sensuous celestial dancers wearing bangles, beaded anklets and sheer drop-waist skirts. The pleats are still folded beautifully in the sandstone, 1,000 years on.

Ta Prohm is one of the most photogenic temples, deliberately left mostly unrestored, and tangled and strangled by undergrowth. Another favourite, at Angkor Thom, is the Bayon temple, the towers of which are etched with enlightened bodhisattva faces and where enchanting bas-reliefs depict ordinary Khmer life rather than Hindu gods.

Diverse, awe-inspiring and quite magical. It’s unlike anywhere else on the planet. Our tour follows an opposite flow to other tourists, often finding we have entire temples to ourselves – and venture beyond the tourist eyes to NGO villages, behind the scenes at the local circus, and search out sea gypsies in situ – getting you closer – in private.

Throw in plush hotels, divine fooding and a people with such infectious charm you can’t help but fall in love with this sublime piece of old Asia.

All our material is hand-crafted from years of professional photography for top brands, magazines and galleries – and as far away as possible from the monthly magazine ‘tip’. We don’t ever tell you the ‘5 best ways of …’ doing something;  instead we find your way – our small groups allows us to teach each of you independently, at your own pace.

Whether you are an absolute beginner or seasoned shooter, we use a mix of visual examples, 1-to-1 teaching and mentoring, and regular, detailed reviews, to push your work to levels you never thought you could reach.

From 2017, each trip we offer has completely different material – across all skill levels – so if you’re coming with us again, it’s all new. If you’re just starting out, we’ll get you fully to speed, manually using your camera quickly with confidence, and then some. We spend only a fraction of the holiday on the technical (actually its pretty simple when you know how), the rest learning the art of taking great photographs. It’s the most interesting bit, after all.

On your Creative Escape to Cambodia, you’ll

  • Learn the craft of shooting thousand-year-old bas reliefs in beautiful light
  • Shoot in-situ portraits of circus performers, on stage and behind-the-scenes
  • Create timeless black-and-white images on the street and in the local market
  • Craft candid portraits in an NGO village, whilst on the ‘rice run’
  • Set-up a pop-up studio in the middle of a sea gypsy village, fronting the lake
  • Capture ‘atmosphere’ in a jungle-canopied temple, in dawn’s soft light
  • Shoot monks-in-training in Siem Reap’s stunning Wat Bo school
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Highlights.

Itinerary.

Twenty minutes after touchdown on the first day of your Cambodia photography holiday, you’ll be reclining on your own balcony in the gardens of our chic retreat, letting all the stresses and strains fall away. This is FCC Angkor – a converted governors mansion meets modern hideaway – your home for the next 10 days shooting, adventure and relaxation.

We’ll start slow; taking our time with the basics of operating your camera (it’s really easy when you know how) – cracking aperture, shutter speed and ISO – then a quick trip out along the river to practice.

Come evening, sample some gastronomy at one of Asia’s best restaurants – Cuisine Wat Damnak – the £16, 5-course degustation is truly astonishing.

Next morning, we’ll go take our first peek at Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s most iconic temple. Literally ‘heaven on earth’, our guide will lead you on a grand tour of its bas reliefs, heavenly nymph carvings and majestic towers, letting you loose to shoot the first of your collection of jaw-dropping images (all monitored closely by our team of experts, of course).

We’ll return late afternoon, running through in non-techy speak which lenses suit which job, then grab a drink by the pool at happy hour, taking time to visit the Visaya Spa and get your complimentary foot rub, just to ease any last strains out of your body. Pure bliss.

Today, we’ll start by giving you some of the composition techniques the pros like to use (and like to keep secret), then try your hand at some documentary photography in the local Phsar Chas market, a short walk away in town. Here, locals buy goods from fish, to vegetables, to hairspray; you’ll get up close to the action and learn how to take images that really tell a story.

Later, we’ll review our hard days work under the stars and have your first 1-on-1 – your own personal time with your tutor to individually work on your skills.

Next morning, it’s off to Kompong Pluk, and board a hollowed-out canoe for a ride through a flooded forest of mangroves; once there you’ll capture some killer black-and-whites in this timeless gypsy village. That night, after our review of the day’s best, we’ll head to Miss Wong’s for a few lemongrass martinis – then head to our exclusive behind-the-scenes access at Phare, the Cambodian Circus.

It’s an early start this morning – but well worth the effort. Sunrise over Angkor Wat is quite magical; then afterwards, whilst all the tourists head home, we stay out, to the forest temple of Ta Prohm. Here, silk cotton trees have grown out of the ruins, in the lush surroundings of dawn-lit jungle. For one glorious hour, we’ll have the entire place to ourselves at this incredible temple; chance to create some softly lit landscapes you never thought you could take.

Then, before our afternoon snooze by the salt water pool, we’ll swing by Bayon – a multitude of serene, enormous stone faces of Buddha jutting out from the upper terrace.

The entire next day is your own; head into town or do absolutely marvelously nothing by the quiet, lapping pool. Later, we’ll take a walk over to Wat Bo – one of the town’s oldest temples. Here, you’ll witness the hypnotic effects of hundreds of chanting monks, plus a chance to shoot some too.

This morning, we’ll have a guided walk through a remote NGO village and chance to see the real rural Cambodia. Later, you’ll learn how to make traditional Cambodian cuisine in our pop-up cookery school right in the centre of the village, before sampling your fine dining in a traditional stilt pavilion. We then take part in some responsible tourism – and head out with some supplies for local families; chance to learn customs and beliefs within the village (and take some killer images).

Next day, we’ll delve into the secrets of portraiture, then shoot some of the temple guardians at Preah Khan, even stopping to find a secret chamber (hidden from most who pass by it) – once decorated with fist-sized rubies and emeralds on it’s bas-relief walls. This afternoon, our tutors will take you out individually, working with you to refine your style and further build your portfolio to take home. Later, we’ll dine above-ground in an 18th century old Cambodian house.

We then complete our 10-day odyssey with a final piece of work. Our team are on hand round- the-clock to offer support, assist with problem spots and provide comments, critiques or edits, then culminate in our final night pop-up exhibition. Over an apertif, we’ll view the incredible images that have been created, then have a sumptuous celebrationary dinner in our very own private open-air dining room.

On the final morning, we host our final 1-on-1 sessions with each of you, highlighting where we think your skills sit, some tips on things to try once home, plus some equipment suggestions that would fit your shooting style. Then, after a light lunch, we sadly say our farewells and exchange email addresses with new-found friends and creative collaborators, then board the plane back home.

Details.

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2 – 11 February, 2018
Spaces available

6 – 15 July, 2018
Spaces available

10 days. 9 nights. Starts and ends in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

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£2075 sharing / £2495 single

Price includes 
10 days, 9 nights accommodation at the FCC Angkor boutique hotel
10 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
4-day pass to Angkor Wat complex, with guide
Complimentary foot massage at the Visaya Spa
All transfers to and from the airport
All transportation to shooting locations
Backstage passes to Phare, the Cambodian Circus
Entrance to NGO village, with cookery class
Boat ride on Tonle Sap lake
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes international flights, lunch and dinner.

 

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There are no direct flights to Siem Reap from the UK. Fly into Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur – perfect for a couple of days explore – then it’s a short hop from there. Flights start at around £500.

" Overall, I have come away from my Creative Escapes trip wanting to go on another one as soon as possible. It exceeded my expectations both in the course content and in what I actually learnt in such a short period of time. I think I'd like to try them all!"


Shakira Cassidy, Cambodia 2015