As the Managing Director of Buffalo Tours, Matt Masson plays an important role in how Buffalo Tours creates unforgettable journeys in Asia – but his passion for travel, adventure and sustainability are more than just company values. Follow his stories – and many others from the Buffalo team – for a closer look at the people and stories behind the tours.
I have always been interested in photography but my experience with it has been sadly limited. As someone who travels so much with my job, I don’t often get the chance to visit the famous sites, yet alone taking along a camera and making time to take proper photos.
So, when we started putting the Master Class tours together and researching the experts, it was the Portraits of Angkor Master Class experience that really stood out for me. In fact it was on a visit to Siem Reap in 2003, where I saw an exhibition by John McDermott of his Angkor photography, that I was first inspired to learn more. 13 years later and I’ve now had the chance to hone my photography skills, and in the process capture some better quality photographs of the Angkor temples – some of the most incredible architecture in Asia.
I’ve had my own DSLR for a few years and have attended a couple of weekend courses, but learning from Geoff on location made all the difference. Geoff explained photography concepts and techniques in a way that was easy to comprehend, and he gave us practical tips that we could practice straight away. For more advanced photographers Geoff mentioned he treats it as more of a tour of Angkor than a lesson. His passion combined with his knowledge of when and where to shoot makes all the difference.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Angkor Wat numerous times and it never loses its magic. From the grandeur in its size, to the amazing 12th century bas-reliefs that are incredibly well preserved, it is a photographer’s dream. Seeing it this time with Master Class- just myself, my sister and the expert photographer- we took advantage of some true behind-the-scenes action.
When we noticed two novice monks leaving Angkor Wat after sunrise we struck up a conversation with them and asked if we could take their photo which ended up being one of my personal favourite images from the morning.
Geoff made sure that we arrived early, prior to sunrise, in order to find a good position to setup and to have our introductory lesson with him. This is the busiest place and time in Angkor but our exclusive access meant that our shots from in front of the pools, of Angkor Wat’s 5 crowning towers, were free of people and beautifully composed.
My favourite part of the day was actually outside of Angkor Wat itself. We visited Wat Bo, one of the oldest Buddhist pagodas in Siem Reap town. After visiting the ancient Angkor temples, it was a great contrast to see a modern day pagoda with many monks and locals going about their daily lives. We also didn’t see any other tourists which always makes an experience feel extra special, like you are discovering it for the first time.
Taking this Master Class means getting insider tips from an expert who is truly passionate about their field of excellence. It was a fun, engaging and interactive local experience, with the chance to see Angkor in a refreshing new light.
You’ll hopefully get a lot of wonderful photos from it too- I know I’m proud of mine!
Find your own exclusive encounter in Asia in our full range of Master Class tours here.