I’ve enjoyed travelling around Myanmar over the last few years. I first visited in 2013 for the Burma Photo Festival where I met a lot of talented artists and photographers from the region. Later in 2017, I took a long trek through the Myanmar midlands and spent time with a friend in Yangon who was tracing his family history. Both times I put down the video camera and allowed myself to take stills again.
SHOOTING STILLS - NOT VIDEO
When I shoot video and cutaways (or ‘b roll) I have to think about the sequence, the edit, how the shot will be used, who might be using it and then of course the frame, the light, the style and the technique and what equipment I got. When shooting stills, all of that fades away and I get to concentrate on shooting something that can stand alone.
There’s lots online about the mysticism of Myanmar, the 1000 year old pagodas and the atmosphere, but really it’s about the people. The hill tribe peoples around Hspipaw and Kalaw remind me a lot of my own people in the North-East of India. The similarity in customs and attitudes, the food and the obsession with chewing betel nut (and paan) and spitting red everywhere was strangely comforting.
The ‘Kalaw Roadman’ was one of my favourite portraits i’d taken in a long time. He allowed me to take quite a few pics of him and was really playful with the camera. His expression, his features and vibe came across really well and in another world I would have got my documentary hat on and interview him.
Another of my favourites was ‘C’est a moi queen to parles?’ (Are you talking to me?’) He gave me a stern look as I walked through his tiny hill village. The nod of solid approval at my camera meant he was cool with me taking a picture.
The teeshirt worn by the lady in ‘Kalaw x Krakow’ is still to this day one of my favourite tees i’v seen across Asia. It’s such a graphical tee and I was not expecting a nod to the Polish tourism association so high up in the Myanmar hills.
I ended up taking a load of pics in Myanmar and over the next few years I will be heading back to photograph closer to my peoples in the North East of India; Manipur, Nagaland and visa permitting Arunachal Pradesh.
Anyone is up for a visit? Get in touch and you can also see my whole collection of Myanmar pictures right here.