From Cambodia with Love and Lovegrove

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Discover the Kingdom of Wonder with Damien Lovegrove on one of two spectacular 10 day & 9 night photographic holiday tours of Cambodia. The first tour will run from 28th July until 6th August and the second tour will run from 11th August until 20th August 2014. Both events are being organised and bookable exclusively through Essential Explorations.

Tour Summary

The Tutor:
Damien Lovegrove
Tour 1 Dates 
- Monday 28th July to Wednesday 6th August 2014 (T14007-July) 
Tour 2 Dates - Monday 11th August to Wednesday 20th August 2014 (T14007-August)
US$2,995 per person based on a twin or double bed share
(approx. £1,760 GBP)
US$3,595 per person based on single (non-shared) rooms (approx. £2,110 GBP)
(Flexible Ezy Pay installments available to spread the costs)
Initial Deposit Required: US$1,000 (approx. GB£590)
Max group size: 12 photographers per tour - partners participating as non-shooters may increase this number.
Location: Cambodia - including Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Angkor Watt, Koh Ker, Tonlé Sap Lake and a coastal location.


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Photography holiday tour of Cambodia - Overview

Cambodia is still a mystery to much of the world and there is much for a lens to capture in its people. From the characteristics of age, pain and suffering etched across the faces of those who survived; to the beauty and inspiration of an emerging generation seeking to escape the defeats and the anxieties of their parents and grandparents, Cambodia is still a mystery to much of the world.

The landscapes of Cambodia are breathtaking. Rivers, lakes and waterfalls exist side-by-side as unsurpassed contrasts. Amazing wildlife and domesticated beasts with a difference roam the countryside. White and gold sandy beaches with coconut palms ring the island retreats that dot the coastline.

There are the monsoon rains that bring out the vibrant colours and the splendours of reflections. The exotic plant life and fields of green take on brilliant hues often decorated with powerful skies and wonderful cloud patterns that create impressive backdrops.

The jungle ruins of Cambodia are legendary relics of the largest civilisation of the pre-modern time. The cultural magnificence felt amongst the ruins is breathtaking.

Spend 10 days in the company of Damien Lovegrove, award-winning British photographer, as we trace out a personal, yet shared, visual journey. We will tap into Damien’s enthusiastic and creative mind. He is a kind sharing soul with a passion for photography. His wealth of technical and artistic wisdom will enrich our photographic experience forming memories for years to come, because that is just another reason to be passionate about photography. Or as John Berger once said, “What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time”.

"This is not just the Kingdom of Wonder, this is a photographer's paradise." 

We will introduce you to the people of Cambodia who known or unknown to them will become the subjects of your candid photographic captures. There will be informal and spontaneous photography competitions, combined with planned workshops. We will have sightseeing surprises, new experiences, discoveries, and time to relax. Our aim is to quench the thirst of your artist photographic soul, to empower you with new lighting and photographic techniques, capturing scenery, people, colours and textures that you have yet to discover. We have a lot in store for you on this tuition/discovery combination; off the beaten track visits, mixed with tutorial sessions (36 hours of led tuition) covering landscape, local models, a special 'Lovegrove art nude' shoot, some jungle moments and monuments. We will seek out that special light of Cambodia, and capture not only the beauty of the Khmer people, but their character too.

Cambodia is full of emotion. What you see on the outside, will no doubt be felt on the inside, especially as you learn about their past and witness the consequences.  You will recognise their glory too; let your imagination take flight against the backdrops of the ancient history we will immerse ourselves in. The discoveries we make during the course of our travelling can sometimes be quite overwhelming. We’ll take you to the spectacular, rarely frequented overgrown ruins, to magnificent old temples, architectural masterpieces of form and precision, agricultural lands of harvest and survival, dilapidated and restored buildings of the old French Colonial époque … and more … but most of all it’s about the Khmer people and what a study they are for the dedicated photographer.  Come journey with us and see for yourself.

Please Note

This photography experience holiday is not organised by us, it is being organised by Essential Explorations, experts in creating stunning, hand-crafted journeys that stimulate rich, heartfelt connections. Damien has been invited as the photography leader.

Couple bookings
We appreciate that your partner might not be as passionate about photography as you. If you wish to take this journey with your better half but don’t want them to feel left out – rest assured. We have a separate agenda prepared for those days when you are actively focusing on a Lovegrove session, but your partner will be on their own adventure. An itinerary dedicated to the non-photographer will accompany this tour to allow them to keep you on your toes.

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Every effort will be made to stick to the itinerary as outlined. However we strongly recommend that you request the latest and most up-to-date information and itinerary from Essential Explorations. As travellers we will be flexible and able to adapt our journey in certain circumstances such as weather, closures, unforeseen delays of flights or schedules, the order in which we view the sites, etc. If a minor or major change occurs, we do our very best to replace that experience with another of equal or superior wow factor and value. Sometimes, while on tour another option is discovered, so we have been known to make a spontaneous decision about changing the program because of the opportunity presented. Just be prepared to go with the flow and absorb the best from your 'essential explorations'. 

Day One - Arrival at Phnom Penh
Meet at the hotel for a 2pm departure
Meet and greet your journey companions
Afternoon at one of the local markets
Sunset cocktails on a Mekong river boat
Dinner in a famous riverside restaurant
Overnight in Phnom Penh

Day Two - The past and culture

Learning Cambodia's past - those who didn't survive
Lunch at Cattle Farm across the river
The Killing Fields
Relax or photo editing
Overnight spent at Phnom Penh

Day Three - Portraits

Full day Workshop (two locations)
Portraits with two models at the French Correspondence Club (FCC)
Lunch on location
Nudes in The Mansion (old run down French colonial home in Phnom Penh center)
Shower/Dinner at nearby hotel
Overnight in Phnom Penh

Day Four - Relax and re-energise

Morning boat to Siem Reap (tides permitting)
Lunch upon arrival
Artisan village and orphanage visit
(Note: Happy Family Orphanage receives the support of Essential
Explorations, and some fabulous picture opportunities with the kids)
Evening KTV event
Overnight at Siem Reap

Day Five - Cultural

Full Day Workshop - Koh Ker - the Ancient Wonder 
Start early for the 2.5 coach trip to the amazing Koh Ker complex
(figures in the first portion of the video) 
This location is off the main tourist trail.
Special permits have been granted for out shoot here. 
Figure in the landscape amongst the ruins with one model in contemporary dress
and our other model (la vedette from Royal Ballet of Cambodia)
dressed in classical Khmer costume.
Explore the vast area with our Khmer/English speaking tour guide
Coach back to Siem Reap leaving before sunset
Early night in Siem Reap

Day Six - Tourism

A day trip to the ancient temple and city ruins of Angkor Wat.
Considered by many to be one of the man-made wonders of the world
We arrive at Angkor Wat for sunrise
We have our Khmer/English speaking guide with us for the entire day
We slip back into town for lunch
The afternoon can be elephant or helicopter ride (at your personal expense) or the group afternoon agenda at Angkor complex.
Evening sunset & champagne
Apsara dance & dinner
Overnight at Siem Reap

Day Seven - Tourism

Easy morning with a late breakfast
Leave at 10am to visit Tonlé Sap Lake (biosphere reserve)
Normally a 25-30 coach ride, we will take 2 hours to include
photo stops to capture rural Cambodia on the way
A boat trip to the Water Village and take in the sunset
Overnight at Siem Reap

Day Eight - Beach shoot

Flight to the coast and hotel check in
Afternoon model shoot on the shores of the Gulf of Thailand
Optional art nude shoot at the beach, on the rocks or a deserted Kep holiday home of the pre- Pol Pot époque. 
Overnight at a coastal hotel

Day Nine - Bokor Hill and Kampot

Bokor Hill Workshop with 2 models
And wanderings around the abandoned buildings and streets of Kampot
Time permitting, a waterfall visit too.
This shoot will be full of contrasts, texture and beauty
Overnight at a coastal hotel
Tonight at 10pm is the DEADLINE to submit ALL competition entries
(via an online platform provided and tested upon your arrival)

Day Ten - Departure

Travel day: Coach back to Phnom Penh after an early breakfast
arriving in Phnom Penh in time for an early lunch
Category and overall competition winner announced
Tour ends after lunch.

Photography competition for all attendees - supported by Fujifilm UK
Throughout the course of our explorations, you’ll have the opportunity to take part in our competition.
Damien will judge images based on the following criteria :
1. Impact, emotion, drama & timing
2. Use of light
3. Composition & framing
4. Technical excellence : exposure, contrast, sharpness & post production
5. Subject interpretation & relevance

Each category will be judged on a points system and the member with the highest overall points at the end of each tour will be awarded an X20 camera courtesy of Fujifilm UK!

More details about the competitions and how to enter are on the tour brochure available from Essential Explorations.

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Booking Your Place


What's included:
• Accommodation
• Sightseeing and location entrance fees
• All workshops, guided tours, photo shoots and site sessions
• Porterage in most places
• All principal meals mentioned in the itinerary
• Internal travel costs between tour locations

What's not included:
• Return flights to and from your county of origin 
• Meals and beverages not stated in the itinerary
• Visa / Passport fees
• Travel Insurance
• Tips and Gratuities
• Additional tuition beyond the itinerary
• Room service requests

Prices are valid on booking, however, price fluctuations can occur. Pricing is primarily based on 3-4 star style accommodation on a double/twin share basis. Please ask for the single supplement rate if preferred. All deposits and payments are non-refundable.

Due to the nature of our Tour which is not packaged, we have a strict no-refund policy. For this reason ‘essential explorations’ strongly recommends that you purchase travel insurance that covers any form of cancelation, no matter how it may occur.

What's included and excluded?

This Tour includes all accommodation, meals displayed in the itinerary, internal travel & internal flight (Siem Reap - Sihanoukville); sightseeing & entrances as per itinerary; porterage in most places; all workshops, guided tours, photo shoots & site sessions. 

Items excluded from the Tour Cost are meals & beverages not stated in the itinerary; any room service you may request; private tuition booked with Damien; Visa & Passport Fees; Travel Insurance; Tips & Gratuities (please allow an extra US$20 that will be collected at the start of the Tour).  Extra curriculum items that we can offer if you choose to participate (Elephant ride up to the sunset location (it’s a 15 minute walk otherwise) / 20 minute Helicopter ride over Angkor)

The tour starts and ends in Phnom Penh, it is your responsibility to book and pay for your return flights from your country of origin. At the time of writing, return flights from UK to Phnom Penh start at GB£850.00 (search )


There are three optional payment methods. (1) Paid in full upon booking – bank & currency fees waived (2) A deposit of US$1,000.00 at time of booking with balance paid 60 days prior departure date – bank & currency exchange fees apply (3) Payments over 4 equal installments with the final payment made 30 days prior departure date – bank & currency exchange fees apply.

Booking your place
Please email us to register your interest.

We re-emphasize, Travel Insurance is not included in the price and is strongly recommended; please ensure that you have a policy to cover any cancellation however it might occur, and that you are also covered for personal accident, medical, repatriation and for whatever 'cause for non-travel' that might take place. Your travel agency can get this included in your ticketing. Make sure that the non-travel clause caused by political unrest and acts of God are included - just in case! 

Neither Essential Explorations, the Lovegrove Group, nor our tour leaders, nor any team members or guest speakers, can be held liable for any loss of any nature to any participant. Every effort is made to stick exactly to the itinerary as outlined in our itinerary brochure (please request it by email); but as travellers we are flexible and able to adapt to change in certain circumstances (which can be caused for example, by weather, closure or unavailability of various attractions, hotels and restaurants, sudden change). In the case of any minor or major alterations to the itinerary or the destination, you are briefed and we do our very best to replace the item(s) with something of equal wow factor or value. You are required to read the full Terms & Conditions which contain the typical small print related to the Travel Tour business. Receipt of your booking is confirmation that you have done so, or will do so within 7-days of making your booking. 

The accommodation is great. Boutique hotels of 3*-4* standing with charm and ambiance. Rooms will be based on a twin share or double bed basis, unless a single-supplement room is requested.

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What to bring

• Camera
Either a digital SLR or a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera is ideal. Damien is likely to have a Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera with 14mm, 23mm, 35mm and 56mm lenses. He may also take the 55-200mm telephoto zoom with image stabilisation.

• Lenses
On APSC format 16mm to 60mm is ideal and on full frame 24mm to 90mm is perfect. There are times where an extreme wide angle lens may be a preferred option or a longer telephoto. The important thing with lens choice is to take what you feel comfortable with. Lenses you know and love are more likely to reward you with fantastic images. A fast standard prime lens like a 50mm f/1.8 on full frame is recommended too. Especially if you are bringing zooms with maximum apertures of f/4 or similar. Damien says “If I had just one lens with me for this trip it would have to be the 23mm f/1.4 Fuji x lens. The same focal length that is found in the fabulous Fujifilm X100s. I find the angle of view (35mm equivalent on full frame) easy to compose with. I also love the fact I can shoot a little closer to my subjects when shooting portraits. this delivers portraits with intimacy and backgrounds that add to the story. The wider the lens, the more environment that gets pulled into the portrait.” Take a look at Damien’s X100 picture gallery here.

• Tripod
We will be shooting various subjects in low light like the mists on the rice fields in first light, landscapes at dusk and star trails at night.

• A remote release cable or intervalometer device.
 Polarising filter
to fit your wide lens or lenses.
 Graduated filters and holder
(desirable but not essential).
 Hoodman Loupe or equivalent (absolute must have bit of kit).

• A Laptop computer with Lightroom or Aperture and a card reader to back up your images. A separate small hard drive is recommended but not essential. This equipment will give you the ability to gather valuable feedback as you progress through your photographic journey. You will also find it essential for preparing your images for the competitions throughout the trip and in time for the deadline submission date – which will be via an online upload page.
Think to purchase a 3G card for your computer after clearing customs at the Phnom Pemh Airport. US$10 should be enough but refills are easy. Otherwise, you must deliver your competition entry images on a USB stick to us by 7pm on Day 9 of the Tour.  

Essential Explorations recommends
July and August are the late summer/ early rainy season months (the heavy rains are mid-September through to end October). Whilst in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap light-weight clothing and thongs (flip flops / sandals) are fine, but for the time spent on location, at the ruins and other rural locations, we recommend socks and sneakers or boots, and long sleeves to cover your arms. Pack layers, but you will rarely need more than two. One, maximum two, pullovers is ample. We will have lightweight raincoats for you should it rain (which are generally punctual and short downpours). The beauty of the rains are for added effects to our photography (reason we chose this time of the year) and of course, the rich green colours of the countryside come alive. Mosquito cream (Deet based) is useful once one leaves the city locations (all year round in fact); and a hat (from the sun or the rain). A bum bag is the way to go; these can be purchased here on our day at the markets, and back packs or easy handling ‘tough’ suitcases for the porterage crew. Most times our luggage will be in our hotel rooms, but the more hands-free you can be on the day-excursions, the better.

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Lovegrove Galleries
Lovegrove Travel Gallery  |  Lovegrove Colour Gallery  |  Lovegrove Monochrome Gallery

About Damien

Damien LovegroveDamien Lovegrove is the managing director of the Lovegrove Photography brands. His life in his words...

"I grew up with my parents among the orchard and hop farms of rural Kent. My mother is an art teacher and my father was an architect. I've always been a visual person having been taught about composition, texture and form in art from an early age. I was 12 when I first experienced the magic of making photographs with a Patterson enlarger in the bathroom. I'll never forget the pungent aroma of the stop bath chemicals. Two magical moments I am glad to have experienced at an early age are peering at the processed film for the first time as it is removed from the processing tank and watching the image form on the photographic paper in the developer tray."

"I'm inspired by beauty and as I have matured as a photographer I've learned to see beauty in just about everyone and everywhere. It's not what I look at that matters to me it is what I see. I am always converting the three dimensional scene in front of me into a two dimensional image in my mind. The exhilarating visual experience I have every moment of the day drives my passion for photography. I love studying the work of other photographers to  relive the excitement of their captured moment."

"I'm a self motivated guy with quite an entrepreneurial streak in me. It's been quite a journey from my days at the BBC where I trained and worked as a cameraman and lighting director. 14 years of BBC life taught me nothing about making money but everything about image making that I could ever have dreamed of. The entrepreneurial skills came later in life when I embarked on a lucrative career and teamed up with my wife Julie as wedding photographers. Having a distinct style kept our work at a premium level and we charged high fees accordingly. After 10 years and 400 weddings it was time to move on."

"Cutting loose from weddings allowed me to follow my heart and become a portrait and beauty photographer. I suppose I'm quite similar in mind to Helmut Newton, obsessed with detail and excited by beautiful people and places. I love to direct my subjects and take control. To part fund the transition into portraiture I published my first book on wedding photography in 2007 and it went on to sell some 35,000 copies making it an instant best seller in it's field.  Next came my first art book called Chloe Jasmine Whichello. This has gone on to receive wonderful critical acclaim. More information about the book and signed copies at 'cheaper than Amazon prices' can be purchased here. It took me until my early 30s to develop a maturity that enabled me to direct my clients and models. Effective communication and the ability to forge instant rapport are skills I learned quite late in life. Helping other photographers achieve their goals has been a big highlight in my recent years. My role in life has become to inspire and educate other photographers through a sharing of knowledge, wisdom and passion."

A few other random facts about me...
"I love people and I suppose women in particular. I love their mannerisms, fashion, style and beauty. I love photographing women. I also get a buzz from teaching. My favourite colour is green. It is the signal colour for the start of spring and it reminds me of lying on the ground in apple orchards as a child. I'm an evening person. I come alive as the sun goes down, It's when I like to party. I feel I have some Latin spirit in me that just wants to party until dawn. I have my roots firmly in the UK yet the climate is not how I like it. I'd like to live 1500km south of here in the Mediterranean region. Travel, photography and adventure are my main motivators right now. I like to have at least three international trips in the diary ahead of me.

Six things that I like...

1. Youth - Vibrant, beautiful, effervescent, alive and broad-minded people excite me.
2. Music - Rhythmic, mood enhancing and well structured music provides the sound track to my life.
3. Sunlight - Sunlight uplifts me, it creates visual contrast and generates fabulous patterns of light.
4. Food - Slow roasted lamb shanks with Dauphinoise potatoes and I suppose chocolate are my favourite foods.
5. Drinks - Fine old world wines, beer and cappuccino are three of my life excesses.
6. Connectivity - smart phones, and devices keep me connected via Twitter, my blog Prophotonut and Facebook.


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Essential Explorations Logo

Essential Explorations grew up from the group, Soul Journeys Travel and just as a Soul Journey does, EE offers incredible journeys of soul-satisfying consequences. They are not just about travel, they are profound life experiences aimed to take your breath away.

Their itinerary and our Tour Leadership are dedicated to helping you get the best from yourself. Whether it be better at what you do; better at observing life; or capturing a better understanding of the world, EE encourages your expansion as an individual.

From fabulous backdrops - embark on a journey to touch that essential part of yourself and your connection with the world at large. Think about where you want to grow because remember, the directions we choose to take in life are so much more than just North, South, East or West ....!