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Picture the​​​​ Kingdom

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A participant in the first Angkor Photo Workshop takes portrait shots of an Apsara dancer. Photo by: GAVIN GOUGH

THE first annual Angkor Photo Workshop ended this week, a fortnight after a group of 13 amateur photographers gathered in Siem Reap’s Foreign Correspondents' Club to prepare for their two-week pictorial odyssey around Cambodia.

Organised by California-based photojournalist Karl Grobl, the $4775 workshop was aimed at amateur but experienced photographers who, he told 7Days, “want to take their game to the next level”.

“I’ve been coming to Siem Reap for 10 years and it’s so photographically rich – it’s a visual storyteller’s dream and a natural place to hold the workshop,” said Grobl.

He said he “hand-held” the participants in Siem Reap, getting them started in how to tell a visual story, and once they had the skill set they needed, they went on a road trip around the country, first to Phnom Penh and then onto Battambang.

Accompanying Grobl as instructors on the expedition were Cairo Photography School founder Marko Ryan, freelance travel photographer Gavin Gough, and Malaysia-based travel and NGO photographer Matt Brandon; all veterans of past photographic tours across Southeast Asia.

Grobl said: “Gavin is Bangkok-based, Matt is Penang, Malaysia-based, and Ryan lived in Singapore and Cairo. I thought, ‘These tours are something that we’re doing individually, so why don’t we work on one together and see if we can mutually benefit.’”

Together the four have worked for and published photos in an array of respected media outlets including Newsweek, CNN, the BBC, Vanity Fair and the Vietnamese Tourist Board.

As well as group field trips to photograph Tonle Sap, and yes, Angkor Wat, the Siem Reap leg of the workshop was broken up into morning and afternoon shoots in between lectures at the FCC, with the intent of honing the skills of participants for the road trip.

“We wanted to provide our clients with something that’s a little bit beyond a standard photography tour,” said Grobl. “As well as photographing the natural sights of the city, we split them up and sent them on assignments, things like photographing rice or charcoal production, landmine victims, or street kids selling books. They produced audio files of interviews as well as the stills.”

While no previous experience is required for anyone wishing to sign on for future workshops, Grobl told 7Days the heavy workload and the photographic equipment required means many of the participants are veterans of past tours by him and the other instructors.

“We deliberately keep the group small with a high teacher-to-student ratio.

This is something we want to organise every year in Cambodia and Siem Reap. Siem Reap is one of my favourite places in the world. I can’t even express it – it’s just one of those places you’re drawn to and can’t understand why.”

Registration for the 2012 Angkor Photo Workshop can be found at www.workshops.thedigitaltrekker.com

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