It’s hard to believe that a few short weeks ago we were greeting the dawn in a hot air balloon, flying low over thousands of Buddhist pagodas in the vast Bagan valley of Myanmar (Burma).
An Ideal Destination for Stock Photographers & Videographers
Long restricted to visitors from the outside world, Myanmar is still fairly new to tourism. As a result, this beautiful and culturally rich country is a treasure trove for photographers and videographers.
Spectacular scenes of floating gardens, bustling markets, and golden temples greet you at every turn. And local people dressed in colorful native clothing are happily willing to smile for the camera, and even sign a model release!
On our recent trip we spent two weeks exploring different areas of the country, and came back with over 4,000 photos and 500 video clips, many of which will end up in our microstock portfolios.
Things To Know Before You Go
Not all parts of the country are open to tourists: Myanmar was under military rule until 2010, and lingering internal tensions still result in conflicts in certain parts of the country. These areas of the country remain closed to visitors.
To be sure you visit the best places and get the most out of your time there, consider joining one of the many excellent photo or cultural expeditions that are offered by a variety of tour companies. On this trip we traveled with Overseas Adventure Travel.
A visa is required: You need to obtain a visa before leaving your home country. We received ours about 4 weeks after submitting our applications, so be sure to plan ahead.
Bring cash, in clean U.S. bills: Credit cards are not yet widely accepted, and ATMs are few, so you’ll need to carry plenty of U.S. dollars. Bills need to be very clean, with no wrinkles, tears, or signs of wear. Large bills will get you a better exchange rate to the local currency, which is the kyat (pronounced “chat”). And many shops and local artisans accept U.S. dollars and at a very favorable rate, so bring lots of $1s and $5s.
Don’t count on internet access: Although many hotels now have internet, the connection is usually slow and intermittent. Websites such as YouTube and Facebook are still restricted, and Gmail is sometimes blocked. So in general, expect to be relatively “unplugged” during your time here.
Electricity can be spotty: Higher end hotels usually have reliable 220v electricity, but you’ll need to bring the correct outlet adapter so that you’ll be able plug in your battery charger and other items. Many other places limit access to electricity during the day, or turn it off all together at night, so be sure to bring extra camera batteries.
Friendly and Approachable People
We were so pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the local people are. Its customary to ‘ask’ to take someone’s picture by pointing to your camera, but you’ll be surprise how many people will gladly pose for you.
Young and old alike were warm and openhearted and interested in engaging in conversation, no matter how limited their English might be. We spoke with monks, nuns, children, elders, hill people, and city people. We were invited to join in at a wedding reception. We joined a family for dinner in their home.
Not only did this make for fabulous people photos, but it’s these encounters that are sure to make the most lasting memories of this fabulous adventure.
Have you traveled abroad to capture great stock photos? We’d love to hear about your experience.