Photo © John Magas

Kelly on assignment in Cambodia

Our 2017 Travel Photography Scholarship winner, Kelly sets out on her first assignment as a travel photographer, learning from mentor Richard I'Anson along the way.

Kelly braves the humidity and crowds of Cambodia to capture joy and celebration of Khmer New Year.

The Reality of a Dream Come True

I’m an amateur travel photographer with aspirations to become a professional, so winning the World Nomads Travel Photography Scholarship trip to Cambodia with professional travel photographer Richard I'Anson was a dream come true.

Being a true nomad who has lived and worked in four different countries and photographed my way across 100, I thought this scholarship would be a breeze. I quickly learned how intense and difficult professional travel photography really is.

I’m used to waking up whenever I want while traveling, heading out to see the sights and photographing whatever catches my eye. This experience was far from l that. We had a busy 12-day itinerary planned to explore Siem Reap and Battambang in Cambodia. I had two photography stories to produce and a long list of specific images that I needed to capture along the way. To add to that, our trip would coincide with Cambodia’s three-day New Year’s Celebrations that attract millions of visitors.

Heart Lake, Canada
Richard and Kelly at Pub Streets Center, Siem Reap. Photo credit: John Magas

Arriving in Cambodia

After my 20-hour journey to Cambodia, I got off the plane to extreme heat and humidity. I met John from World Nomads first, and he gave me a really warm welcome. We were then quickly joined by Richard I'Anson and Huk, our incredible guide from Intrepid Travel.

I woke up that first morning at 4am, jet lagged and excited. Heading out for our first shoot, I had no idea the day would involve battling extremely hot and humid weather, confronting millions of tourists, and the challenges of being on a professional travel photography shoot that ended up being 18 hours long. Most days were like that, and when I did get a break, I used it to sleep!

Richard, on the other hand, was a well-seasoned travel photographer bounding with energy. He made sure we had enough time planned to get us to our locations so that I could take adventage of the best light and take great shots. He also also took the time to demonstrate skills and technique, offering me the support I needed. John made sure I was well looked after and kept us all laughing, while Huk went well above the call-of-duty to provide an authentic Cambodian experience and lots of interaction with the incredibly lovely local people who were so warm and welcoming.

Heart Lake, Canada
Richard at the local markets in Battambang. Photo credit: Kelly Beckta

A Rewarding Experience

Our days were difficult, challenging, and long, but extremely rewarding. We were always drenched with sweat from the heat, swatting mosquitoes and facing lighting challenges. Running to get ahead of packs of tourists and accidentally running into an ant hill were just some of the highlights. From this experience, I've gained a tremendous amount of skill and knowledge that I can apply to help me achieve my dream of becoming a professional travel photographer. I felt really blessed to be with such a great team, who looked out for me, supported me, kept me safe and encouraged me every step of the way.

Heart Lake, Canada
From left: John, Kelly, Huk and Richard at Angor Wat, Siem Reap. Photo credit: Kelly Beckta

See Kelly's photo story from Cambodia

Could this be you? Apply now for our 2018 Travel Photography Scholarship to Morocco!