Category: Street Photography Guide

Street Photography Guide in Yangon

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Street Photography Guide in Yangon
MYANMAR is a place that I have wanted to visit for a long time, but unlike other trips that I had, I went with no expectations. I packed my bags and spent three days at Yangon doing street photography. The trip ended with Bagan and Inle Lake, two must-go destinations for all travellers and street photography lovers.

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Suggested Map in Yangon

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Suggested Spots

  1. Shwedagon Pagoda
  2. Yangon Central Railway Station
  3. Konzedan Street Area

Magic Hour in Shwedagon Pagoda
I highly recommend you visiting the Pagoda in the late afternoon, so that you have time to familiarize yourself with the area, play around with the settings and start taking some shots. Pagoda at sunset gives you a very different colour tone, so make sure you leave enough time to experience the change in mood in such beautiful scene. Do remember to follow one of their traditions and walk anti clockwise, and make sure you look at every corner hard enough to identify your subject of interest.

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Yangon Central Railway Station
I went to this station twice, first time early in the morning at 6am and then at noon again. I recommend doing a few shots around the station when your inter-city bus arrives at the central railway station and the next time would be when you need to take the circular train from the central station.

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Area Around Konzedan Street with Special Architecture
At the end of Konzedan Street is the seaside. No beach, no people fishing, just a few big cruises parked by the bay. The shops and homes that you see while walking along Konzedan Street will give you a taste of the local life. They may look similar to those old and packed buildings in Hong Kong but yet they are unique in shapes in their own ways.

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Photography Tips for Shooting in Yangon

  1. Look them in the eyes and smile. If you want to take portraits of the local people, that is the secret language of getting their permission for pictures.
  2. Be observant and don’t be afraid to do repeated routes. If you spot an area that you like, go back and forth a few times, this would increase your chance of getting the shot right and at the same time keeping it candid. More often than not, you will get a photo with awkward facial expressions if it was taken static or one that you have been trying to capture by standing there a long time.
  3. Bring a compact camera. The weather is quite humid and hot during the day. Having too many gears around your neck or in you bag will decrease your mood to do street snaps. Imagine if you have to walk along a street 10 times just to get your favourite shot…
  4. Always, always have your mosquito repellent in your bag.
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My Three hours Circular Train Experience in Yangon
The circular train for sure is one of the reasons why I spent a few days in Yangon. The train ride took me approximately 4 hours (the full route takes longer to complete but I had to stop due to a small incident).

So it all began on a lovely Sunday afternoon. I stepped onto the train together with friends that I newly met at the hostel. Same as other tourists visiting Yangon, we sat down quickly as the train was quite empty. As it departs from Yangon Central Station, I started to wander around, moving from carriage to carriage to meet people and explore. It was full of kids and families. They told me they have picnics on the train as part of their weekly routine and they enjoyed the amazing view along the route.

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When I finished my first roll of film, I was joined by two kids. They looked at me and we smiled at each other. We couldn’t really communicate because I don’t speak Burmese and they don’t understand English but they were eager to introduce me the neighborhood by pointing at the passing sceneries.

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There were many local hawkers selling different snacks on the train. The kids bought a corn on the cob, broke it in half and gave a piece to me. As they were passing the sweetcorn to me, we exchanged eye contacts. At that moment, language barrier did not exist and the kindness from them was beyond any describable words. It was the highlight of my trip. For the people and its culture, I would love to visit Myanmar again anytime.

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TAHUSA Recommended Camera and Focal length
35mm and 28mm are both my favourite focal lengths to shoot in Yangon. I used my Summicron 35mm f2 V1 as well as Ricoh GRon for the the entire trip. I shot extensively with my point and shoot Ricoh camera because it is very compact and is highly adaptable under different environments. My only complain about the Ricoh is that I have to push at least one or two stops with the small aperture of f2.8 when the light is dim.

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Photos in Yangon
If you would like to view more pictures that I have taken in Yangon, you can find them in the link below
Cities Snaps

Street Photography Guide in Mong Kok

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Street Photography Guide in Mong Kok 旺角 at Night
Mong Kok is a very unique neighbourhood that is unlike any other places in the world, the closest equivalent that I can think of is the intersection at Shibuya, Tokyo. The city is also known as the ‘movie town’, it has great cinematic scenes, particularly for staging gritty gangster-driven fights. I would describe this top attraction in Hong Kong as a river with quick current. The place is packed with fast walkers, and if you are new to the city, you might be taken aback by their pace. General to the local culture, people may find it abrupt and intrusive if you try to capture shots up close. However, I do have a few tricks that could help you enjoy this photography heaven in a different way.

As an every day local street photographer, I would recommend the following spots if you are next in town.

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Is Ladies Market the Best Place to Start?
Some of you might think that the Ladies Market is the most attractive part of Mong Kok with the neon lights and the buzzing local traditional entertainments such as mahjong shops and massage parlour. I do agree with it in some way but for me, I like the Ladies Market at late nights, around 10pm, when the owners of the stalls start to pack up for the day, load the unsold goods onto the small carts, and move them back to the storage. This shows a very different side of the streets than its usual opening hours. Another habit of mine is to walk down the side aisles, the combination of dark corners and street lights give you more perspectives and angles to play with, this is the perfect opportunity for you to be creative.

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Shanghai Street Adventure

But if you want something more adventurous and a true local life experience, Shanghai Street is the place for you. It is two streets from the Ladies Market, near the Langham Place. It is full of traditional billboards and neon signs with prices of the different entertainments. I think you might have figured by now, it is a red light district. It is an exciting neighbourhood but just take extra caution when you are shooting at night and keep check of your belongs.

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One of the best places to have top view in Mong Kok
In just a few streets away, there is a Park-In Commercial Centre. Go up the car park lift to top floor, walk out the double doors then go straight, you should soon see the open roof with a panoramic view that oversees the streets of Mong Kok packed with street performers and passer-bys.

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Suggested Map of Mong Kok

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Suggested spots

  1. Ladies Market
  2. Shanghai Street
  3. Park-In Commercial Car Park
  4. Footbridge at Mong Kok Road
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 Small Photography Tips in Mong Kok

  1. Having a smile on your face. Nothing beats a genuine smile, be it you are a foreigner or a local. For someone who grew up in the city, western photographers tend to have an advantage over the locals, they get to win their hearts easier when it comes to photo taking, they find tourists less intrusive.
  2. Off finder (zone focus) increases you successful rate of getting a decent candid shot on the street.
  3. Pick a spot, frame and wait.
  4. Watch your shutter speed, better keeping it in your safety shutter to avoid vibrations.
  5. CineStill 800T is best for a place like Mong Kok, it gives you that cinematic look.
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TAHUSA recommended path
Come out of Exit D of the Mong Kok Station and go straight. Once you hit the Ladies Market, turn right. Walk till the end of the Ladies Market, remembering to explore in between the stalls and side allies. Cross the street and up the car park lift of the Park-in Commercial Centre for the top view shots. When you are back on the ground level, cross to the opposite side and try out some tasteful local food. Take the same path down the Ladies Market until you are at the end of the street. Turn left, pass the intersection and continue walking towards the Langham Place. When you hit Langham place, turn left and enter Shanghai Street. When you have seen enough for the day, enjoy a cold local brew beer at Tap Ale Project.

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Travelling like a local
If you are interested to understand more about other areas in Hong Kong, feel free to email me at tahusa.co@gmail.com