Myanmar photography tour 2017 recap

As you know by now, I never reveal too many details about my tours itineraries as I have experienced in the past people copy/pasting them for their own tours. I spend months, sometimes years refining these itineraries depending on the time of the year but mostly depending on how a country changes. And in the case of Myanmar, it is changing VERY quickly! I have had to adjust the itinerary several times, trying to always offer the group the best photo opportunities at the best time of the day. It has been 3 years now that the Myanmar photography tour remains unchanged as I feel I have found a great balance between cities and countryside photography. Mostly after the 2017 Myanmar photography tour, I am convinced the itinerary is best to offer us so many great photo opportunities.

 

I normally do a write up at the end of a tour but I got so busy last year running all the tours back to back that I never got the time to do it. So here it is!

 

Myanmar has by far been Pics of Asia’s most popular tour outside of Vietnam, and once again the tour was pretty quickly fully booked. 6 amazing students ready to be challenged in this very photogenic environment could only make an amazing tour. On top of that, we didn’t get a single drop of rain and the light was superb every day.

 

Warming up in Yangon

I was just coming back from Sri Lanka and needed a few days to rest in Yangon. That didn’t stop me to go and shoot one of my favourite places at sunset: the docks along the river. It is always full of Human activity and one can easily walk endlessly there, going from taking photos to having a tea break. There I met two of the tour participants for a kind of welcome session.

Boy working on the docks at sunset in Yangon, Myanmar

 

 

As a warming up session but also a way for me to introduce the first concepts about people photography we start with a very early morning in Shwedagon pagoda. A very quiet and spiritual place, allowing us to slow down and focus on what we do. I really like that morning as people usually tend to rush into the beginning of the tour. And rushing isn’t the best thing to do. The peacefulness of Shwedagon allows us to slow down and think, anticipate the action and come up with better images.

 

The Chinatown market is a full on experience, full of people and activity, and complete different exercise from Shwedagon pagoda. Here students have to work fast, think fast, and this is a great way to improve one’s photography skills. It is also a great spot to focus the photography workshop on the light, practising different composition techniques related to it. 

Myanmar seller of eggplant in a local market

 

Bagan countryside

After two more days in Yangon exploring the city and its countryside, we then headed to Bagan. As popular as Bagan is for its temples, we only spend a sunrise session photographing them. After all, there are only temples and we are more interested in people photography. I do have some very special villages that we go and explore in the surroundings of Bagan, where people rarely see any tourists. Luckily, people were very busy working in the fields with peanuts and chillies. The late afternoon light was fantastic and we spent our whole time working on layering and trying to perfectly time the moment our different subjects would walk in the right spot.

Burmese farmer in a peanut field

 

As the sun was going down on the horizon it was a great time to start shooting in the light and create this late afternoon feel into our images.

Farmers in Myanmar at sunset

 

Of course, we couldn’t leave Bagan without chasing the cow herders at sunset, going through the temples on their way home. It was quite intense as they were walking pretty fast and we trying to keep up with them, but so much fun! Just imagine 7 of us chasing the cows trying to keep them in line with the sunset and some temples in the background! I love these moments when we are all taken away by our photography and forget everything else.

Cow herders in Bagan, Myanmar at sunset

 

The remote Pindaya

Now we come up to my favourite part of the tour: the rolling hills of Pindaya. I discovered that spot almost by accident some years ago and have been coming back every year ever since.

Pindaya is home to several ethnic tribes and some beautiful rolling hills as a backdrop. October usually is busy with people harvesting rice, cauliflowers and other vegetables so there is plenty of activity in the fields. Plus the local markets around at very traditional and offer great lights in the morning.

Women working in the market of Pindaya in the morning

 

We drove along the main road and stopped several times to capture the field’s activity. At the end of our second day there, we were lucky enough to stumble upon a big group of Pao people harvesting rice in their traditional way, offering us a lot of layers to play with.

Ethnic tribes working in the fields in Myanmar

 

Inle Lake

There would be no complete photography tour in Myanmar without ending on Inle Lake, probably the most beautiful region in Myanmar. The light bouncing on the lake is fantastic and the whole area is home to many local markets. This is a time for us to go shoot but also preparing our final photo critique session in the comfort of our hotel.

Woman rowing her boat at sunset on Inle lake, Myanmar

 

 

Overall this is one of the best photography tours in Myanmar I ever ran, because of the great group dynamic and fantastic weather. I also reconciled with my love of taking portraits as I recently received my new portrait lens (that I will be reviewing soon). The Burmese people being so friendly, it makes it quite easy to approach them and work on portrait photography techniques.

Mosaic of portraits of people in Myanmar

 

 

Check out the dates for our Myanmar photography tour 2018 that I will be co-leading with Quinn Ryan Mattingly.

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Etienne

Founder of Pics of Asia, Etienne is a teacher with a photography habit.

8 Comments

  1. Sally Brady on May 11, 2018 at 9:13 am

    This was by far one of the most enriching experiences I have had and the tour itself exceeded my expectations. I could go on and on and on but I won’t, just can’t wait to do it all again!!!

    • jarwen-dev on May 11, 2018 at 1:48 pm

      Thanks Sally! 🙂

  2. Schaeffer Thierry on May 11, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    très joli choix de photo très belles avec de l’harmonie et une belle balance! En un mot belle compo, merde deux! Ca donne envie d’y retourner… Ton tour est superbe est j’en ai un excellent souvenir en 2016, de plus il y avait une équipe de rêve, reconnaissant… A bientot

    • jarwen-dev on May 14, 2018 at 11:33 am

      Merci Thierry. La Birmanie change tres rapidement, as tu prevu d’y retourner?

  3. Geoff on May 12, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    Jenny and I had a great time. It was an amazing country to visit. To have a guide and mentor to get us to some of these remote and unique locations was a fantastic experience. We have so many special images. One day I would like to do the Sri Lanka tour.

    • jarwen-dev on May 14, 2018 at 11:32 am

      Thanks Geoff!!

  4. Thomas C. on May 22, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    Un commentaire en francais , et oui il en faut !
    Quel trip ! Passionné de photos depuis maintenant deux ans, j’ai épeluchés les forums, les vidéos Youtube, les blogs etc , bref je me suis complètement pourri la tête avec des détails techniques en pensant que la photo se résumait à des règles, détails techniques & un excellent matos … Ma passion étant débordante , les gens de mon entourage me demande souvent conseil quand il souhaitent acheter un appareil, voilà la réponse que leur donne maintenant : “n’investis pas dans un appareil haut de gamme mais plutôt dans un workshop !” et ceux d’Etienne sont de ceux qui vous feront progresser, bien plus qu’un 50mm 1.4,ou Sonry A7R II .
    La formation est le meilleur des invesgtissements ! Etienne est passionné de photos et il vous embarquera avec lui dans ses aventures où la recontre avec les gens et le moment présent passent bien au delà du rendu bokeh de votre focale, ou la passion et l’émotion surclasse les notes de DxO . Apprenez à photographier avec votre coeur et ne soyez plus esclave de vos “settings”. En résumé , un voyages extraordinaires et des souvenirs gravés à jamais dans ma mémoire , longue vie à Pics of Asia !

    • Etienne on May 22, 2018 at 7:13 pm

      Merci beaucoup Thomas, quelle passion! 🙂

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