Myanmar: Myitkyina Morning Market

One of the nice things about Myitkyina is its compactness. You can walk a lot of places, and see even more with the help of a bicyle. There are plenty of motorbike taxis if you prefer to be taken places.

The wet market is where fresh produce is sold in the early morning. It’s split into separate areas, and there is plenty of sighs and smells. Some of the produce comes in by small boat, and if you walk through to the back of the market you can watch boats crossing the calm waters of the Irrawaddy.

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I find it very difficult to take photographs of people in markets. I’m always aware they are busy selling their produce, and probably don’t want a lens pointed in their face. In Kengtung I hadn’t taken any market photos at all, which was a shame as it’s the most interesting market I’ve ever been to due to the many different ethnic groups there. I wondered if i was thinking about it too much, so decided this was the time to give it a go.

Inside the market is very dark, so photography is tricky. I cranked up the ISO to 1600, and then to 2000. I probably should have pushed it higher, although my wide aperture lens helped to keep adequate shutters speeds. With the odd exception where i could grab a sneaky shot, i asked if i could photograph. One lady was obviously too shy, but other than that i was given the green light. Most people just carried on working, without interacting with the camera. I noticed that they would be a little uncomfortable if you took too many photos, so if i didn’t get the shot within a couple of frames i would stop shooting and thank them.

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I’m not sure if i’ve described this earlier, but the ladies in Myanmar use a traditional cosmetic named Thanakha, which is to protect their skin and for beauty purpose. Thanakha is made from roots and timber of the Thanakha tree, and is worn by most women and some children. Even though it was very dark in the market, the ladies still tended to wear a good covering of  Thanakha, as can be seen in the photos.

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2 Comments

  1. Paul Taylor

    What a gallery,Peter! I am glad that you found the courage to risk a negative reaction. It was certainly worth it. The aspect of photography that I now most enjoy is catching images of people doing their own thing. Sometimes, like you, I ask permission but mostly I have to confess to resorting to the long lens. This is partly to avoid any unpleasantness arising from intrusion and partly because, in many circumstances, people who know that they are being photographed behave like people who know that they are being photographed rather than just getting on with the activity that has aroused my interest.

  2. carono (Post author)

    Thanks Paul! I bought a few things from the market on my way around so at least i was contributing a little, which made me feel a bit better. I was planning on going back the next day and taking more photos… However, after meeting Prem and Raj that evening my plans changed and we toured some local villages instead.

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