Myanmar Street photographyAn Unpretentious view of Yangon and Bagan Street life

On the last month, I got the incredible opportunity to shoot a wedding in Myanmar, (that you can see here on the blog!). For those of you guys out there who don’t know Myanmar – also known as Burma – is a state in the region of Southeast Asia bordered by India to its west,  Thailand to its east and China to its north. Just to give you a rough Idea about the part of the world in which I was. So, having this opportunity I decided to spend there some few days to explore – camera in hand – the city of Yangon (where you’ll probably land if you will decide to go there) and the ancient city of Bagan, where the wedding took places. I tried to collect as much information I could before to leave, trying to figure out where I could focus my attention. But once there I immediately understood that few days are – guess what! – too few to complete any kind of parallel project. “And now?” I thought. I wanted to take some photos, but I haven’t any idea about what could be interesting without looking shallow. Then I got this Idea: why not showing out just what I’m seeing, in the most untouched and candid way, taking photos as I like to take but showing you this totally new world through my eyes – the eyes of somebody that see something for the first time. I bought a longyi (I’m sorry I didn’t take a photo of me wearing this men-skirt, I was too shy to do it!), I grabbed a camera from the bag and I put on my favorite lens*** and I walked from the early morning to the sunset, trying to understand how things work on this side of the world. Unfortunately, I’ve been there in the wrong season as April/May are the hottest months before the rainy season start, that means I needed to stop quite often in some bar/restaurant to drink and get some rest.

If all this makes sense to you move forward reading, and enjoy my unpretentious photography through the street of Myanmar; otherwise see you soon, it has been nice to have you here until now!


Yangon

Yangon is the capital in pectore of Myanmar; It served as capital until 2006, when the military government relocated it to Naypyidaw, a totally new city built just for this purpose.  Despite this, Yangon remains Myanmar’s largest city and is its most important commercial center. One thing that really stroke my attention is that Yangon is full of buildings from the colonial era, and the urban core is almost untouched. I was really impressed by how the life moves fast around those buildings. The life of the Burmese people living in the core of the city is basically all on its streets and close to the river. Really early in the morning, the streets are almost desert and the life is concentrated on the riverside, where the people arrive from the closest town by boat to work, and where the main markets are. While the sun grows up in the sky the streets become full of life, traffic (horn is the most spoken language in Yangon, probably) and you can find street food everywhere (I suggest you doing the proper vaccines before to eat on street).

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Bagan

Bagan, the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, is famous through the whole world for more than 10000 Buddhist temples, Pagodas, and monasteries that have been built there starting from 1000 years ago. More than 2200 still survive to the present days, and the following photos start from above one of these temples. Unfortunately, the show I was expecting to see from there was mitigated by the low season; the sky was pretty flat compared to what I saw on the Internet, and just 6 (GREY!!) balloons were passing through the sky, compared with dozens (colored)  I was imagining to see. Nevertheless, it was worth making the trip just to see it.

The life in Bagan seemed slower compared with Yangon, but things are substantially similar in therm of times of the day and happening. Everything starts on the riverside, or close to the temples that became quickly full of tourists, as the sun starts to rise. During the day markets are the center of the life and people are concentrate in those areas to sell and buy any kind of product. Wherever you go, you can see some kind of religious happening; I tried to document myself about some of them but because of the lack of people speaking English it was impossible.

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What particularly struck me during this trip has been the human happiness and simplicity. Coming from a world where we need at least two of everything, seeing those people so peacefully possessing almost nothing made me think a lot. Above all, I thought to my kids and if we’re doing a good work growing up them according to right values.I’m thinking often about this, and I hope to get the possibility, soon or later, to immerse myself again in that amazing culture.


*** My favorite lens is a Nikon 28 f1,8. I use a lot this focal lens also on the wedding days. My idea is that if you want to tell a story you must get closer – to bring the observer there with you – and you have to go wide to enclose in your story the scenery where it’s taking place. But not too wide, to don’t became grotesque. All the photos you see on this page except for some of those with air balloons) were taken with the 28mm.

Myanmar Wedding Photographer / Bagan / Burma /Aureum Palace /  Francesco Spighi

Comments

  • Michelle said:

    This is such amazing work! I have lived in southeast Asia but have never gotten the chance to visit Myanmar, but your photos make me feel like I am there! So stunningly beautiful and real!

    • Thanks a lot Michelle! It was my first time there, so it nice reading that people get the feeling to be there from my photos.