For our second day at Bagan, we hired a local professional photographer, Maung Maung (pronounced Moo Moo). As with almost everyone here, he speaks very little English, using mostly, “you happy?” What else were we to say other than “yes, very happy.” The other word he used often is, “shoot!” I would often try to argue with him about camera settings, where he would listen impatiently for a moment, then look me in the eye and say, “shoot!” So, shoot I would. And the photo would be good. I stopped arguing.

During our sunrise shoot, he dropped his telephoto lens. It was broken.  I was going to tell him he could use the word, “shoot” for this but decided to keep my mouth shut. The outshoot of this mishap is he would come to me all day and want to borrow my lens. Then he would borrow my camera saying he was setting up a shot for me.  After a bit, I was unsure whether I was shooting or he was shooting. It didn’t matter as there was some really nice shots on my camera. Moo Moo worked more from the artistic side of photography than the technology side. This turned out to be great for me as it pushed me to see the scene in a different way.  He kept “talking” about using layers (not Photoshop layers), shadows, and mist. It took a while but I think I finally got it.

Mystical Sunrise at Bagan

Mystical Sunrise at Bagan. Notice the layers of mist and trees.

After sunrise we did some staging, renting a local monk. Rick Sammon, a professional I have been following, always says, “make the shot, just don’t take the shot.” Well, make the shot we did. We made good use of shadows and light while positioning the monk just so.

Monk Walking Away

Our rental monk amidst the shadows and light.

Monk Standing with Shadow

We finely positioned him getting the color and shadows we desired.

Monk and Shadow

Our Monk and his shadow.

Monk Praying

Candle light is beautiful. Our monk had to sit very still.

The day concluded with us being “very happy” – we really were. Moo Moo really has a fantastic eye. Wanting to see more of his photos, we stopped by his store (you really can’t call it a store, it is more of a stall). After sitting for tea with Moo Moo and his wife, we settled on a book of his images for purchase. He gladly autographed it for us.

Maung Maung and Us

Maung Maung and Us

What a day…  Remember, it’s all about the light, layers, shadows and mist!