Cambodia. June/July 2014

A Narrative Passage Through Cambodia.
Storytelling in Cambodia with Gary Knight and Anastasia Taylor-Lind

This is an intensive immersion in photography specifically designed for students or young photographers who have curiosity about the world and wish to make a real advance with their photography and narrative story telling skills.

Like all of VII’s masterclasses and workshops the aim of the program is to launch you into a culturally rich environment and teach you the skills to identify, research and document meaningful stories.

Apply here:

Cambodia has an exceptionally rich political and cultural past, which has left its own legacy on the young nation today. We will be addressing some of those issues with talks and meetings with leaders from different aspects of the community amongst whom will be journalists, photographers and NGO workers all of whom are tackling the big issues that face the country today. In addition to your photographic work you will also be presented with opportunities for people to people diplomacy through interaction with NGO’s.

We will travel from Phnom Penn to Kompong Cham, spend time exploring the floating villages on Ton Le Sap and then 8 days in Siem Reap.

Each student will be given an assignment by his or her tutor and will work individually or in pairs. There are a broad range of subjects which include but are not limited to: floating villages, tourism, spirituality, land mine related issues, primary health care issues, rural life, urbanism, generation x, arts and crafts.

You will have edit sessions with the tutors, sometimes one-on-one and sometimes group sessions.

The evenings will be spent in discussion and viewing curated projections and in editing your work. You’ll work hard but there will also be time for chilling!

At the end of the program you will return home with an edited portfolio and personal journal of this exceptional experience.

The course is open to those interested in developing story-telling skills including, but not limited to students of photography or journalism. You need to use a digital camera but the focus is not on the equipment and you can produce as strong an essay with an iPhone or compact camera as a DSLR camera. You will need a laptop and editing software.

Day 1 – June 24, 2014 – Arrive in Phnom Penh
Arrive into Phnom Penh International Airport. Rustic Pathways representatives will be waiting for you outside of customs. Check into hotel. After dinner there will be a projection. You’ll get to meet the rest of the group and discuss your goals for the trip with the VII photographers.

Overnight: Salita Hotel, Phnom Penh

Day 2-3 – June 25-26, 2014 – Phnom Penh
Over some Khmer breakfast, your group will have an informal language lesson. While you’ll just cover the basics, making an effort to learn the local language is a great gesture of respect to the local people. Over the next couple of days you will have an introduction to Cambodia’s tumultuous recent past, which will put the contemporary nation into perspective. We’ll have evening projections and discussions. Sometimes your work will be edited in a group and sometimes one on one. Photographers and NGO and cultural representatives will be invited to discuss their work and look at pressing social issues including the Land Rights conflict, the continuing problem for Land Mine victims and the prevalence of HIV in Cambodian society.

There will be the opportunity to visit:

S-21 Tuol Sleng – the notorious prison, formerly a school and now a genocide museum.

The Killing Fields of Choeing Ek, which were witness to infinite executions during Pol Pot’s genocide.

Overnight: Salita Hotel, Phnom Penh

Day 4-5 – June 27-28, 2014 – Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham
Leave Phnom Penn for Kampong Cham (about a 3-hour drive), the site of the Rustic Pathways partner NGO, The Buddhism for Social Development Action (BDSA). This is where you will gain experience in people to people diplomacy with a group of Cambodian teens that live at The BDSA. This NGO was founded locally by a small group of monks in response to the vast needs of their community and now supports a children’s vocational training and arts center called the Mekong Kampuchea Kids Project. The project provides educational and practical support to younger children on a daily basis and residential vocational training to older teens who join the program on a 2-year scholarship. We will be staying in a Rustic Pathways base house. Dinner and meals will be in the town.

Overnight: Rustic Pathways Base House

Day 6 – June 29, 2014 – Kampong Cham to Siem Reap
Departure from Kampong Cham for Siem Reap. (About a 5-hour drive)

Dinner and photo projection at the Foreign Correspondents Club, Siem Reap

Overnight: Reaksmey Chanreas Hotel, Siem Reap

Day 7 – June 30, 2014 – Siem Reap
You will wake early before dawn and head to the famous Angkor Wat temple to watch the sun ride over the ruins, and then spend the remainder of the morning exploring three of the most famous temple sites in Siem Reap: Angkor, Bayon, and Ta Prohm. In the afternoon you will continue to work on your photo projects.

Overnight: Reaksmey Chanreas Hotel, Siem Reap

Day 8 – July 1, 2014 – Siem Reap
Today you will continue working on your photo projects.

Overnight: Reaksmey Chanreas Hotel, Siem Reap

Day 9 – July 2, 2014 – Ton Le Sap, Floating Villages
Ton Le Sap is a vast lake where communities live in floating villages. Traveling by boat we visit 2 villages where you will photograph daily life for these water dependent people: fishing, cooking, schooling etc. Rustic overnight accommodation is with homestay families on the lake.

Overnight: Homestay in Floating Villages

Day 10-13 – July 3-6, 2014 – Floating Villages to Siem Reap
Return from Ton Le Sap to Siem Reap where you will now focus on developing your photo essay. Spend time researching your story with the help of the VII tutors and the Rustic Pathways local staff.

In addition to or as part of your essay we will be up before dawn to visit the least frequented of the Angkor temple sites, away from the tourist crowd. This town has exploded commercially in the past decade thanks to the opening and commercialization of the temples at Angkor Wat. This is where history, religion and commerce collide. There are an infinite further number of story subjects to explore and you will have the opportunity over the next few days to develop a single theme or continue with your personal journal or narrative. Some ideas you may want to look at:

Tourism — how it impacts the local population

Culture — Siem Reap has a vibrant art scene both contemporary and classical

Religion–both Hindism and Buddhism are followed, there is also a small but thriving muslim community on Ton Le Sap

Village life in rural Cambodia

Street photography — life here is lived largely on the street and there is a plethora of activity to photograph

During the time in Siem Reap there will be regular editing sessions and evening discussions and projections. Some of the evenings we will have group dinners, on other evenings you will be free to make your own choice amongst the numerous ethnic and western restaurants in the town.

Overnight: Reaksmey Chanreas Hotel, Siem Reap

Day 14 – July 7, 2014 – Final night, Siem Reap
You’ll spend the day working on your final edit ready for the evening projection. We will have drinks and a celebratory dinner for this, our last night in Cambodia.

Overnight: Reaksmey Chanreas Hotel, Siem Reap

Day 15 – July 8, 2014
Depart from Siem Reap, or connect to Phnom Penh to take the group flight back to JFK Airport in New York.

Overnight: In transit

This trip is open to anyone 18 – 25, who is in education or not. It is a serious commitment to your photography and you should expect to work hard but also have time to relax and have fun. You will need: a digital camera (DSLR, compact or iPhone), a laptop for post production, a hard drive. (See application).

What is included in the course fee:

All accommodation.

Meals while traveling – Phnom Penn, Kampong Cham, Ton el Sap, plus breakfast and 2 dinners in Siem Reap. Four days in Siem Reap will be independent lunches and dinners, budgeted between $10-$15 per meal.

All activities scheduled in the itinerary.

Transportation for scheduled trips. There will be a small allowance for independent local transportation. Depending on the demands of your project, you may wish to allow for additional transportation costs of up to $25 per day whilst working in Siem Reap.

Apply here: