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.
Suggested Map in Yangon
- Shwedagon Pagoda
- Yangon Central Railway Station
- 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.
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.
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.
Photography Tips for Shooting in Yangon
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
- Always, always have your mosquito repellent in your bag.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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