Without an H

Photography from south-east Asia by Jon Sanwell

Posts tagged ‘yangon’

Lugubrious gentleman (and other pictures)


Yangonites are a fairly cheerful bunch as a rule; this rather solemn looking gent is one of the exceptions.


Chewing betel leaf is still a very common habit in Myanmar; these pavement stalls can be found on almost every street corner.




Note to self: eat more bananas.


Know your onions.


Individually wrapped apples; only in south-east Asia?


Good vibes; a Buddhist band prepares to take to the streets.






Something magical about the early afternoon light in Yangon, even if it’s just falling on an apartment block.



Sule pagoda; this leafy view is a little misleading as the pagoda is always surrounded by traffic, due to its location in the middle of a downtown roundabout.



Behind bars (YSP #2)


This is the second installment of my hopefully continuing Yangon street portraits series. When I used to take this kind of close-up portrait in Hanoi, with my 85mm lens, I always shot in black and white, but there’s something about Yangon that seems to demand to be photographed in colour. So, for now at least, colour it is.


Yangon tough guys (YSP #1)


I came across these two tough guys outside one of Yangon’s many construction sites one October morning. Often the most unwelcoming looking people end up being the best subjects for photographs. People are nice, as it turns out.

Early days in Yangon


Hard to believe, but I’ve been living in Yangon for just over three months now. I’ve not been posting much in that time, but I’ve been out shooting a lot, building up a sizeable, but just about manageable, backlog of pictures. So, not before time, here are some pictures from my first couple of weeks in the city, taken at the end of September last year (as usual, this blog is lagging some way behind real life, and is showing no real inclination to catch up).

It was a strange, busy, exciting time for me. Staying in a hotel and with my new job yet to start in earnest, I was in a kind of limbo for two or three weeks. There was the feeling of freedom and eagerness to explore that comes with being on holiday, mixed with the slight feeling of trepidation and the nagging need to sort out practical things that come with moving to a new country. So while I spent a lot of time taking pictures and reacquainting myself with Yangon, I also had to find myself somewhere to live and start laying the foundations of a long term stay.

These pictures were all taken in Downtown Yangon, the area that I think of as the heart of the city (and where I now live). It feels a little strange, as a Brit, to use the very American-sounding term Downtown, but that’s what the district’s called, so I’ll just have to get used to it (I’ll be calling people ‘dude’ before you know it). Downtown is the ideal area to dive into Yangon life, and an endlessly rewarding location for photography, its grid of numbered streets making it easy to navigate while always holding out the possibility of streets yet to be explored. There’ll be more – probably quite a lot more – pictures from this part of my new home over the next few weeks and months.















And finally…


Yangon nightfall


I tend to put my camera away once the sun has gone down. But one of the things that I’ve been trying to do more of since moving to Yangon is shooting after dark. These pictures were both taken as the sun went down on my second day in Yangon, back in September. Lots more pictures from Yangon coming soon.


Hanoi / Yangon

Earlier this year, I had my first photography exhibition at the Vietnam in Focus cafe / gallery in Hanoi. Mirror Cities: Hanoi / Yangon was a collection of street portraits from the two cities. The pictures were shown in pairs, Hanoi in black and white, Yangon in colour, with each pair having something in common in terms of subject, style or theme.

The exhibition got a little attention in the Vietnamese media – I had my fifteen minutes of fame (or five and a half minutes of indifference) on VTV4 – but the main benefit for me personally was seeing a collection of my photographs as large prints. I don’t print my pictures nearly enough, and this is something that I’ve resolved to do more in the future.



I’m delighted to say that my first photography exhibition is opening soon. Mirror Cities: Hanoi / Yangon is a collection of street portraits from the two cities. The pictures are presented in pairs, Hanoi in black and white, Yangon in colour, with each pair sharing some commonality in subject, style or theme.

The where and when:
Vietnam in Focus, 46 Hang Vai Street,
Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
Opening night: Saturday 10th September from 7pm to 10pm.
Free admission.

If you’re in Hanoi – or if you feel like hopping on a plane – please come along on the opening night, or pop in at any time over the next month or so.

Vietnam in Focus is a cafe / gallery in central Hanoi and a photography tour company, offering individual and group tours in Hanoi and northern Vietnam. A big thank you to Alex and Colm at ViF for making this happen.