Take your visual storytelling skills to the next level with this two-week immersive photo workshop and tour in one of the most beautiful and photogenic countries in Southeast Asia. Cambodia’s eerily gorgeous temples may be a first-time visitor’s draw, but you’ll soon discover that it is the people who are the real treasures here.
In addition to exploring Angkor’s enduring temples, we’ll have the privilege of documenting, one on one, the first-hand accounts of remarkable individuals and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) whose harrowing stories will work their way into our creative imaginations. As if your human subjects weren’t already compelling, you’ll chronicle these narratives against the stunning backdrop of Siem Reap’s historic French colonial buildings and open-air markets, and the Cambodian countryside’s jungle-clad temples, rural villages, and emerald green rice paddies.
During this unique cultural experience, you and a small group of other participants will learn visual storytelling skills and techniques from award-winning humanitarian photographer, Karl Grobl, and Patrick Firouzian in a classroom-like setting, and then immediately apply them to a real life photo documentary you’ll collect in the field and on the streets of this captivating region. Karl and Patrick will present talks on story choice and development; interviewing subjects using photography and multimedia equipment; audio recording, basic sequencing, and multimedia editing skills. They’’ll challenge and mentor you from the inception of your visual narrative through to its final edits. Plus, you’ll enjoy the camaraderie and collective wisdom of like-minded individuals willing to travel the world to find and tell a good story.
This immersive exchange deepens through our nightly group dinners, when images and critiques are shared, or when Karl and Patrick project instructional lectures. Upon completion of our projects, the slideshow and/or library of images will be gifted as a token of appreciation to the NGOs or individuals that entrusted us with their stories. We’ll close our workshop tour by presenting participants’ images and stories to the group, and with the fitting farewell of an all out celebration.
Prerequisites: This workshop is designed for photographers, photo-bloggers and visual storytellers with a solid understanding of their digital cameras. A DSLR or mirrorless camera that shoots video is recommended for this workshop, but iPhones and Android smartphones, and Go-Pro type cameras will work equally well. A laptop computer, and a basic working knowledge of software programs like Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop & Bridge, Adobe Voice, iMovie, Final Cut, FotoMagico, and/or similar PC-based software like Photo Mechanic, ProShow Gold, and the like, is important for those wishing to create a multimedia presentation.
Additionally, if you would like to learn how to really make your images pop using Google NIK software, it is recommended that, if you do not already own the software, you should acquire the suite from Google. If black & white images are your thing then Silver Efex Pro (part of the Google NIK collection) is the software to use. If blogging is your intended final story output, then a working knowledge of WordPress or Blogger is helpful. Assistance can be given to those who are just getting started with any of the above-mentioned software.
Day 1: Participants arrive in Siem Reap, are picked up at the airport, and transported to our hotel, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC). Guests who arrive early can relax by the pool, explore the riverfront area or take a stroll to the nearby old French Quarter. This evening we have a cocktail reception and welcome dinner where you’ll meet Karl and Patrick and fellow participants. Karl shows a short slide presentation, and after dinner both guides offer an overview of the coming weeks. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 2:No trip to Cambodia would be complete without a chance to photograph the stunning temples of Angkor. So, this morning, as a “warm up activity,” we’re off to the South Gate of Angkor Thom, and then to Bayon Temple. After a late breakfast, the workshop segment begins with a talk on the fundamentals of dynamic visual storytelling—from a story’s inception to the multimedia product’s final edit. Learn methods for capturing images and video using digital cameras and smartphones, and how to choose appropriate audio options for recording sound. In the late afternoon we turn our attention to Angkor Wat and shoot until the light fades. Around 7:30 p.m. we’ll enjoy dinner together. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 3:This morning’s lesson continues with the components of visual storytelling. After lunch, your team meets with the instructor to discuss potential story ideas. Perhaps you will choose to document the history of a local family’s restaurant, a day in the life of a rice farmer, or the efforts of a stone-carver working to replace the lost artifacts of the Khmer Empire. Or you might follow the good work of a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) aiding the environment, children’s education, microfinance, or community development. Once you’ve zeroed in on your story and subject, it’s time to jump in: make contact with your interview subjects, and assemble and prep equipment for tomorrow’s fieldwork. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 4:Head out into the field today to start bringing your story to life! Make photographs, film interviews with your subjects, record ambient sounds, and begin drafting narration. Capture additional stills and video footage around Siem Reap to enrich your story descriptions. This evening we gather in the classroom to review the day’s work and plan for your next phase of shooting.
Day 5:Today we take a break to decompress from our assignments and have some fun. We travel by bus to the floating villages on Cambodia’s largest lake, Tonle Sap. First, we photograph this amazing area on foot, then we board small boats to better observe and photograph a floating market. We enjoy lunch at our boatman’s house, then head to Beng Mealea Temple for our afternoon shoot. We return to Siem Reap and cap off the evening with a private, traditional Cambodian Apsara dance performance. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 6:Continue collecting your story video footage, stills and audio this morning before returning to the classroom for more lectures and presentations on visual storytelling, focusing on the postproduction phase. Begin pulling together your content and start editing your story into a cohesive visual narrative—for, the day after next, you’ll put finishing touches on your story with help from your instructor, incorporating expert advice on finalizing the sound, stills, and motion of your presentation. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 7:Today offers a second chance the capture the breathtaking Bayon Temple and Angkor Wat. This repeat visit allows you to improve upon your shots from Day 1. Late afternoon we visit Les Artisans d’Ankgor workshop to photograph local craftspeople. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 8:This is the final day to shoot more images for your story, or use it as your free day to shop/relax and/or prepare for this evening’s “best-of” slideshow. Karl will be available all day to assist you with anything photographic. Tonight we meet for a delicious dinner, followed by the presentation of each student’s completed visual story. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 9:After a leisurely breakfast, we board our private transportation for an all-day ride south to Cambodia’s vibrant capital city, Phnom Penh. Along the way we witness local Cambodian life, rice fields, and stop in a town where fried tarantula is the local delicacy. After arriving in Phnom Penh, we check into the storied and famous Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC). We enjoy dinner overlooking the river. Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 10:This morning we are transported by tuk-tuk to visit and photograph the infamous S-21 Prison, Toeul Sleng, and the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek. Participants work on this story, capturing a variety of images and sound files that will then be combined into a multimedia slide show. After lunch, Karl will guide you in creating another personal photo project. This evening we do some riverside street shooting, then dine at a local restaurant. Those interested in an after hours night shoot follow Karl to the Heart of Darkness. Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 11:We rise early to capture images of Phnom Penh waking up. Following breakfast, Karl discusses tomorrow’s road trip to Battambang. The remainder of the day is free for shooting, shopping, resting, or exploring Cambodia’s capital. Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 12:After breakfast we board our private transportation to Cambodia’s second largest city, Battambang, a French Colonial town more sleepy and charming than Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. We make frequent stops along the way to capture images for a mini-assignment called “The story of our trip from Phnom Penh to Battambang.” Overnight in Battambang.
Day 13:Up early to photograph Battambang’s largest market (some areas of the market are not for the faint of heart), then back to the hotel for breakfast. Meet midday with Karl and Patrick for critique, image selection, and guidance in what you will be shooting tomorrow (The Bamboo Train). In the afternoon we photograph monks, locals, and activities along Battambang’s riverfront park, Stung Sangke. Tonight’s group dinner is at a local Cambodian restaurant. Overnight in Battambang.
Day 14:This morning we board the sensational and rudimentary “Bamboo Train,” and spend a few hours exploring small villages, and rice fields. In the afternoon, depending on time and our energy levels, we visit and photograph a brick factory, ice factory and/or a community living along the abandoned train tracks. Big farewell dinner and image sharing party to follow. Overnight in Battambang.
Day 15: Today you are transported back to Siem Reap for your international departures. (2.5 hour ride Battambang to Siem Reap.
Or….OPTIONAL 4 Day/3 Night Extension: Aerial photography, filming, and editing with Patrick Firouzian.
Learn for filming and taking pictures with a drone, from preparation to sharing your multimedia. Equipment: Come with your drone or use one of ours. Pre-requisites: Apps uploaded on your smartphone, your laptop with an editing software like iMovie.
This extension cost is TBD and is based on double occupancy. A single supplement fee will apply.
Day 15: We’ll spend the day learning the essentials of Aerial filmography including:
Components of the drone
Safety for you and others
Basic operation of the drone: take-off and landing, camera movements
Filming and flying: how to keep it safe and simple
Emergency procedures (a.k.a Plan B): how to get the drone to take over control (auto-pilot) and return to landing zone sound and safe
Workflow from drone preparation, flight plans, take-off check-list, flight, landing, off-loading media, editing, sharing
How to compose from above: altitude, movement pace, light, focus areas: how to combine these and get engaging clips
Later in the day you’ll put to practice what you’ve learned – take off and land, basic moves, rotation, panning and dolly shots, low and high altitude.
We finish up the afternoon filming the sunset reflections on the lake, with houseboats in the foreground.
In the evening, we’ll review the unedited clips of the day. Comments and strategies will be discussed to assist you in your next day’s filming.
Day 16:We’ll rise early and start our filming at the West Baray where we’ll film fishermen setting their nets in the beautiful morning light. After a breakfast and a quick viewing session, we’ll start our lesson on workflow – how to compose a draft clip with music. Lunch will be followed by filming a floating village. We’ll travel 90 minutes a picturesque village bordering a lake. We’ll film the Pagoda, the fish farms, the fishermen coming and going, and the hundreds of houses on stilts. We’ll stay for sunset at the village before returning to Siem Reap for dinner.
Day 17:Morning flight at a location to be determined. Return to Siem Reap for breakfast. In the afternoon, we’ll put together all that you’ve learned in your final edit – adding music, color coding, etc. to your video. Patrick will lecture on media sharing strategies: how to be found, how to reach people, an more. Final dinner will be at Karl’s home where everyone will get a chance to see your final product on a large screen HDTV.
Day 18: Participants will be transferred to the airport in Siem Reap to catch their flights home.