A travel feature photography assignment for Qantas Airways’ Travel Insider inflight magazine, written by Ann Fullerton. The trip was part of a wider tour run by travel company World Expeditions. Below are some tear sheets from the article plus other shots from the Free the Bears sanctuaries located at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, Cambodia, and Luang Prabang, Laos. As well as a short side trip to Mandalao elephant sanctuary in Luang Prabang.
Finally was able to properly use the Sony Alpha 7Rii for a personal travel photography project in Chhlong Cambodia. An amazing high image quality 42mp full frame camera, the small size is perfect for use in travel and documentary photography, but also high end enough for commercial and studio use. Soon HDR processing will be history as new sensors' dynamic range will become greater. I felt liberated with this small and robust camera after being used to carting a hefty Canon DSLR around. Less obtrusive for both portrait and general travel photography. The Sony menu system will take some getting used to, none intuitive and disorganized. Minimal weather sealing could also be an issue, the camera is now covered in Cambodian countryside dust and may need a professional clean.
In 2003 I took my first ever motorbike road trip adventure from Phnom Penh to Sen Monorom in Mundullkiri province over 10 days or so, with a 35mm analogue film SLR and a few rolls of Kodak Portra. On arrival in Snool I was covered in thick orange dust, few roads were sealed at the time. On the return journey we stumbled upon Chhlong village on the river road from Kratie to Kompong Cham. A small town on the banks of the Mekong in Kratie province, dilapidated French colonial buildings, a bustling market and the simple quiet life along the river was a real draw that had a lasting impression. We ended up staying for 2 nights in the town's only guest house.
Returning in 2017 with a Bangkok photographer friend was an attempt to get away from the expats and tourists of Phnom Penh, and even Kampot my usual go to place when in need of a break. To feel once again the only foreigners around in a sedate land. Kratie city is just 4 hours from Phnom penh by share taxi and Chhlong 1.5 hours from Kratie on a motobike. For our 2 day jaunt we rented Honda Wave's in Kratie city early morning. We skipped Kratie town altogether, the town's folk were miserable in 2003 and not much seemed to have changed 14 years later, something I haven't really experienced in other Cambodian towns. Once out of Kratie town, things changed rapidly into the old dreamscape I remember and still try to hold onto after 14 years in Cambodia.
Conclusion. The real Cambodia still exists out there in all directions, it's further from Phnom Penh than it used to be. Take it while you can.
More images from Chhlong can be seen in the Chhlong gallery here.
Still a work in progress, additional Cambodian portraits and refinements of existing portraits can be seen in the Dreamyland gallery. I plan to expand the number of images and diversity of subjects, also to refine the technique.
Big shout out to Bunsak But on the retouching and post production end. We hope to exhibit the series one day.
A tough commercial photo shoot last month, only two days to shoot a whole calendar at several locations in rainy season, some with small children. Many of the required backdrops were green spaces and Phnom Penh is limited when it comes to parks. Indoor locations included Phnom Penh Pochentong airport's new departure terminal at its busiest time of the day, shooting around passengers scurrying about was pretty hectic.
These images are currently being used for billboards, print ads and for the up coming Manulife 2016 calendar. Again art director Phirith Uch from River Orchid was great to work with, he also did the layout design, along with much help and organisation from Miss. Both and the River Orchid team. The talents included the famous Cambodian comedian Chab Chien and family who did an excellent job. Plus other loyal Manulife customers and staff. Working with non actors and small children can be challenging, not to mention the changing weather. But we managed to get it all done in time with surprisingly good results. More pics to come from the shoot as they are released into the public realm.