Monkey Attacks Photographer In Cambodia P.T.W. BTS Ep. 15

Photographing The World Behind The Scenes continues today with Episode 15. In this episode, we are finally able to leave Hong Kong (after our disaster with Vietnam Air in last weeks episode) and we arrive in Cambodia. We captured some amazing images and lessons in Cambodia and Elia almost gets his face bit off by a monkey. 



When we arrived in Cambodia, I really didn't know what to expect. I assumed it would be my least favorite stop during our journey simply because it wasn't going to be as "nice" as the other locations we had been to. I can certainly appreciate "roughing it" at times, but I am also the first to admit that I enjoy good food, a hotel room, and air conditioning; three things I wasn't sure I would get in Cambodia. Luckily the food in Cambodia was amazing (aside from the snake and spider we ate in this episode), our hotel was extremely nice for just $60/night, and it was air conditioned as well. 

After arriving in the hotel we immediately went outside to catch a "tuk tuk" (a scooter with a cart) to some local temples. It was outside our hotel that we first met Chom, our driver. For $11/day Chom would take us anywhere we wanted and wait for us to come back. 

Over the course of our week in Cambodia we became good friends with Chom, and in next weeks episode we begin to include him in all of our activities, including a gun range and a hot air balloon ride. 

Our first two temple experiences were great for us, but bad for the tutorial. I was amazed that these temples still existed and they allowed people to walk all over them. The problem arose when we tried to begin filming. Apparently tripod pan heads are the line at which gear becomes "professional" in Cambodia. Even though Elia was using a $1300 carbon fiber tripod and mine was only $300, the locals forced me to stop shooting because I looked like a professional. 

When I launched the drone and our second temple we were instantly surrounded by six or seven people who asked us to stop. At this point I was certainly enjoying my time in Cambodia but I was wondering if we would be able to film anything for the tutorial. 

The next day we hired a driver to take us to a few different temples two hours outside of the city. These temples were completely deserted and we were able to film freely. 

Elia was able to capture a very simple shot of a temple being overrun by tree roots. In post he gave the image a desaturated sepia tone. 

At this point we had only been in Cambodia for two days, but we still had much more to see. Subscribe to our Youtube channel to see next weeks episode, when we experience much more of the city with our tuk tuk driver, and Elia wakes us up at 3:30am to film the most amazing sunrise I have ever experienced in my life. 

To learn more about the full cityscape tutorial you can visit the info page here. If you are more interested in standard landscapes, you can check out Elia's first photography tutorial here


Lee Morris's picture

Lee Morris is a professional photographer based in Charleston SC, and is the co-owner of

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"I started to take my pants off because I definitely didn't want to offend her..." Man, that's a keeper. You can probably make a wall print out of that. Maybe even a t-shirt.

Monkeys are no joke. Here's my first encounter with one in Indonesia. Taken with a 35mm so I had to get pretty close. Pretty much lost my man card when he looked at me and snarled.

I think you misquoted me haha

Did I? Entirely possible, so my bad... got a bit discombobulated by the thought of what that poor masseuse had to go through - it threw me off!

I'm loving these BTS episodes!

I was in Cambodia in 2012 while doing an all around the world trip in my Lederhosen. ;) Got to Ta Prohm really early (before the other tourists)... Here is a shot. Looking at my processing from back then I might just redo my favourite images... (and the panos)
If anyone cares for more pics from back then here is a link:

LOL These are so entertaining... EVERY week!

But, I think for as adventurous Elia is with food, he misses out on other experiences :P

Who would go to a world monument like Ankgor Wat to shoot an instructional video without first getting permits or any kind of permission? The fact that they all seemed surprised that they were kicked out is just amazing to me. And to attempt to use a drone there? Really? This is exactly the kind of thing that makes all photographers look bad and causes places like this is enact restrictions on photographers who are just there to capture an image. I'm not familiar with Elia and have no idea if he's done this kind of thing before, but FStoppers should think twice about selling tutorials that promote this kind of behavior.

Just saying.

The rules at these temples seemed to be made up on the spot by individual people and they seemed to simply want to get paid if large productions like TV shows or movies were being filmed. That's why they went after me because I had a video pan head on my tripod but didn't care about Elia's still photography gear.

I found it funny that they were upset about my drone but not the thousands of people they let climb all over the temples without any sort of rules but when we were asked to stop we did and we moved on.

Hi Lee

It just took me about 5 seconds to get to this page:

It pretty clearly lays out what one has to do get permission to film something that will be used to make money.

I've traveled extensively throughout Southeast Asia and I do understand that sometimes, rules are made up on the spot, that rules are enforced or not enforced at the whim of whoever happens to be standing there (as you noted earlier, Elia was no hassled at all). I get that.

For the past 30 years, I've made my living as a TV commercial producer (I'm also a travel photographer on the side). It would never occur to me, or to anyone in the business, to just show up to film something without researching and securing a permit. That's producing.

The shame of it is that a tutorial filmed at Angkor would've been incredible. Even though you were ultimately able to film at a much lesser site, it seems like you went a very long distance to not be able to shoot where you wanted to.

My 2-cents.


We saw this new law when it was made a few months ago. Luckily it came out a year after we had already been there. We were able to film at the main temple. It's in episode 16 of our BTS.

I believe Elia wanted to go to Cambodia to show us the location because it was so close to Hong Kong and so cheap to stay there. We were all prepared to not film any lessons there.

Obviously we won't be going back there now without permission.