Myanmar Through Another Lens - Photos from my Un-Tour Guests

Kids play football on the sand near the Nyaung U jetty.
Captured by Stephen Bugno

One of my great joys when traveling is understanding how others look at the same thing that I do, but see something completely different.  Their eyes are drawn to something else that I'm missing.

I'll give you an example.  While I might notice the smoke from the fire swirling up around a kettle and into the deep blue sky, someone standing right beside me may notice the shoes drying next to the fire, the yellow leaves dropping from the trees in the distance, or the focused look of the person grabbing more firewood.

No where do I notice this more than in Myanmar.  This country, which I've been to more than 15 times in the past 6 years and where I've spent more about 20 months traveling around and living in, has shown me a lot.  So much so, that a lot of things that once made my jaw drop no longer make me stop in my tracks.  They have become normal.

So when I have the opportunity to take my guests on a tour to Myanmar, I often get to see things through their eyes, seeing it from a fresh perspective.  And while you get to see a lot of my photos from Myanmar on my Instagram and on my website, I thought it would be great to share some from my guests as well.

My Un-Tour to Myanmar attracts all sorts of interesting people, including many with an interest in photography.  Some have already traveled and worked all around the world, while it has been the first big trip abroad for some others.  Here are a few of their images.


The Icons


The Streets

Yangon is one of the street photography hotspots on the globe at the moment, and if you spend a morning walking around the streets as they begin to come alive just after sunrise, you'll understand why.

Kathleen Walsh is well traveled, and had been eager to visit for years.  Camera in hand, she was often looking at the buildings and those who inhabit them in interesting ways.

The colorful streets of Yangon.
Captured by Kathleen Walsh

The Secretariat Building in Yangon is typically only open one day per year.
Captured by Kathleen Walsh

Still Life

Perhaps more than anything, it's these images that surprise me.  The colors and patterns that catch our eyes.  Special shout-out to Candy who always surprises me with her eye.

This first image below is from John Lambert Gordon.  An anthropology PhD and retired professor, John has an effortlessly compelling story at his fingertips at every perfect moment.  When he took this in rural Shan State, he remarked how it reminded him of his 2 year project in rural Indonesia 40 years ago.

Cooking in rural Shan State Captured by John Lambert Gordon

Cooking in rural Shan State
Captured by John Lambert Gordon



People of Myanmar

Be it the thanaka on someone's face, or the smile that always gets returned, first impressions in Myanmar are pretty great.  Once you dive a little deeper and start peeling back the onion, you'll be rewarded with stories and connections that you'll keep with you long after you've left.

This was Stephen's second trip to Myanmar, with the first 4 years earlier in 2013.  He knew he had only scratched the surface last time, and now he was ready to capture it all with his camera.  He would often head out early in the mornings (on our sleep in days) to capture life in motion.

A trishaw driver navigates a busy market street in Yangon.
Captured by Stephen Bugno

In the Shadows

In a country that still mostly reliant on natural light, shadows become a part of the look, especially in the harsh midday sun.  This light is often ideal for capturing silhouettes.

Guest David Harden often shoots in black and white, and would often see light as a way to illuminate his subjects amongst the darkness.

Light beams come through the walkway to Shwezigon Pagoda in Nyaung U
Captured by Lee Haanen


Our Team

While selfies have become the norm for travel photos, I think it's better if you're a little further than arm's length.  Fortunately, having a bunch of people together with cameras and the great light The Golden Land provides makes that a bit easier.

John "The Man in the Hat" takes the rare look opposite the sunrise at Inle Lake capturing the shadows of a few of us.  As usual, I'm throwing the peace sign.

And below on the left is the ever talented Honey Soe, my assistant and "secret weapon" posing in the light in Bagan.  And next is the rare photo of me at Ananda Temple.


Thanks so much to the photographers for allowing me to share their images here.  You can adventure with me anytime!

John Lambert Gordon - Instagram / Website
David Harden - Instagram / Website
Kathleen Walsh - Instagram / Website
Stephen Bugno - Instagram / Website
Candida Gordon - Instagram / Website
Lee Haanen - Instagram

To learn more about how you can join me on an Un-Tour to Myanmar and capture it with your own eye (and lens), you can check out more about my Myanmar tours here.