Photo: Temple outside Monywa.

Burma forum

Photography in Burma/Myanmar

Posted by 9preciousGems on 28/4/2011 at 17:19

Ive seen some amazing shots from people travelling through Burma with their cameras

Im wondering if anyone has any experience of travelling through there with good quality camera equipment? Im talking something like a Canon 5D Mk ii and a couple of L Lenses.

What's the reaction of the people? Will this sort of camaera attract to much attention? Will suspicions of 'Jounralist' arise? (i know they are very wary of these sorts of occupations - eg on Visa Apps)

Ive read about camera taxes at some areas of interest - wil these affect me moreso than someone with a point and shoot?

Obviously the camera will be carried in an inconspicuous bag etc and i will take all the necessary precautions not to flaunt the equipment and look after it. I am a respectful person and just want to capture some emotion, some landscapes (especially Bagan!!), speak to people, share experiences, travel well and experience new things in this wonderful country.

Any opinions or experiences on this welcomed. Thanks!

#1 9preciousGems has been a member since 13/1/2011. Posts: 82

Posted by idreamofdurian on 28/4/2011 at 20:13 TF writer

I had no problem traveling around Myanmar with my DSLR, but my Sony with minolta lenses certainly isn't as attention-worthy as the Canon L's. As long as you're not taking photos of government buildings or officials you shouldn't have any trouble (though taking photos of sensitive area with a point and shoot is trouble, too).

The only time I got a camera warning was from the taxi driver I pleaded with to drive me past Aun Sang Su Kyi's house -- he made me put it on the floor of the taxi under the seat if I wanted to drive past (which I did - no problems).

Camera fees at the places I went were the same whether it was a point and shoot or DSLR.

You'll be surprised how many expensive cameras you'll see in Bagan... some seriously wealthy tourists go there plus lots of Chinese and Japanese tourists (who tend to take photography as a serious hobby). There's a champagne hot air balloon ride ($300 USD each?) for your overhead landscape shots ;)

#2 idreamofdurian has been a member since 5/9/2008. Location: Singapore. Posts: 576
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Posted by andyman3000 on 28/4/2011 at 21:56

Posted from within Vietnam.

I went there 3 months ago with a Nikon D700 and three fairly expensive lenses without any problems.
You are not allowed to take photos of or from bridges, police and military installations. Apart from that it's an amazing country to take photos. In smaller places people will actually walk up to you to have their pictures taken.
I did have not have to pay any camera taxes, some places require a fee to take pictures but as "idreamofdurian" already said, it should be the same for point and shoot and SLRs.
Have fun in Burma, I'm sure you'll love it!

#3 andyman3000 has been a member since 18/3/2011. Posts: 2

Posted by 9preciousGems on 5/5/2011 at 16:16

Thanks for the replies - seems like there shouldnt be any problem as long as you respect the rules and the people - which is pretty much a golden rule for travel

#4 9preciousGems has been a member since 13/1/2011. Posts: 82

Posted by Tilapia on 5/5/2011 at 23:01

I'll echo what the others have said. It's very unlikely that you'll have any problems. Theft is not much of an issue in Burma for obvious reasons. Dust will be more of a problem than anything else (depending on when you're going ... otherwise it might be humidity/moisture), so make sure you've got some good cleaning equipment with you, especially if you're going to be changing lenses often. I had my high end equipment with me when I went and found that my sensor cleaner was invaluable.

You might attract attention, but it will be for all the right reasons. Many of the people I came across were thrilled to have their photos taken. I came back with more portraits and people photos than from any other trip. Of course, the kids love to see themselves in the LCD. It's unwise to promise to send photos, unfortunately. They might get them ... they probably won't.

There is (or was ... I'm going to assume it's still there) a great area for shopping for old camera equipment in Yangon on Anawrahta Rd. between 35th St. and Sule Pagoda Rd. There's a lot of junk, but when I was there I saw a lot of vintage stuff, including large format units with tripods.

Enjoy. It's the best place I've ever been for photography. Take a wide angle lens for the temples, and a tripod for long exposures inside the Bagan temples. You won't regret it.

#5 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,507
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Posted by hannanhanarbek on 9/1/2012 at 06:48

Hi Guys,

I'm planning to go to Myanmar this year. I travelled with Sony NEX-VG10 with external shotgun mic Sony ECM-CG50, compact camera, gorilla pod, extra batteries, laptop, wire and charger. Can I pass the custom security with all the gadgets?

#6 hannanhanarbek has been a member since 9/1/2012. Posts: 1

Posted by Tilapia on 10/1/2012 at 19:13

You shouldn't have any trouble as long as you don't have "Journalist", "Photographer", "Documentary Maker", or "Social Activist" on your visa application. The external mic may raise an eyebrow or two as it isn't a very common piece of equipment for the average tourist. If that happens, just tell them that you intend to record music or a festival like the one at Ananda in Bagan and you want to have great sound. Have a good plan for it, anyway, just in case they ask.

#7 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,507
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Posted by keinnon on 23/3/2012 at 16:18

In January 2012 my wife and I spent 26 days wandering around Myanmar. I carried a large ThinkTank bag, used for cameras and a laptop, and it was never checked by anyone (other than the usual airport scanners). I didn't carry a lot of camera gear but had a DSLR, 2 lens, a small waterproof camera and a small video camera. Like the above posters say, just don't enter 'journalist' etc. as your occupation.

One of the coolest things I saw was a fellow taking photos and then using a really small printer, like a Polaroid PoGo, to instantly make small prints and give them to the subjects! I'd highly recommend taking one along. People are thrilled to see the image on the screen but giving them a print creates a real reciprocity.

By the end of our journey (two month total in SEAsia) I was getting pretty fed up with people who take photos when it's inappropriate. I saw one woman sneak a photo of a woman vendor outside a train in Myanmar after the subject shook her finger at her to indicate she didn't want her photo taken. That's just plain rude.

I carry a sketchbook and found that when I sat and sketched it actually attracted people and offered a chance to engage with them. I still used my camera a lot but the experience caused me to seriously reflect about when and where (e.g. Western countries) it's appropriate to take candid photos.

#8 keinnon has been a member since 22/9/2011. Posts: 3

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