Look no further than the Yangon Railway Station to find the beating heart of daily life in Myanmar’s largest city. Here you can catch the Circle Train near platform 7. Clanking along at a snails pace the trip takes about three hours and travels to the small satellite towns around Yangon. Its a great way to get a close look at real poverty while remaining in your comfort zone. Unfortunately comfort zones and good photography don’t work well together so about an hour into the ride I hoped off at Aung San Station. Well it wasn’t much of a station, just a platform and a dirt road leading to town. In fact the train did not even come to a complete stop.
You know your in an area where not a lot of foreigners venture into by the way the locals react to your presence. It could just be that Im a 6’4″ beast of a man compared to the average body size of a Burmese. So I tend to smile a lot to counter that.
Now that Im off the train and out of my comfort zone its time to get to know the people and hopefully come away with some good shots. It’s important to point out that in theses kinds of situations one must always remember to be considerate of those around you. If you are generally a considerate person then you should have no problems being a respectful photographer. If I have learned only one thing from the master photographers who came before me it is this: The camera comes second to the relationship you build with your subjects. Explore your surroundings and try to communicate with those around you. It is possible to interact with people even if both parties understand nothing that is being spoken. Having good “charades” skills can be handy as well.