For a Photographer, Looking Beyond the News Cycle

For a Photographer, Looking Beyond the News Cycle

Two very different families near Rangoon’s Sule Pagoda. (Photo: Sai Zaw / The Irrawaddy)

Two very different families near Rangoon’s Sule Pagoda. (Photo: Sai Zaw / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Since early last year, The Irrawaddy’s photographer Sai Zaw has captured the human condition in the places he visits. He takes pictures of the people he meets as he goes about his work, whether in Rangoon, Inle Lake, Naypyidaw and Arakan State.

In images that go beyond the press photography he has practiced for years, the lensman has managed to record a sense of place and contradiction among his subjects in his street photography.

He relies heavily on background, shadows and lines to make a normally boring subject more

interesting. He might spend hours standing on a bridge after finding a backdrop that he likes, waiting for a subject to enter the frame.

“It’s quite difficult to practice street photography as you have to make a boring subject more interesting. It’s a challenge for me to get a strong, meaningful image,” he said.

But why use black and white for his pictures?

“I just want to show my subjects together with lines, shadows and patterns or backgrounds. Sometimes I make a comparison between my subjects in an image. If the picture is in color, viewers are enchanted by colors and they won’t notice what I really want to show,” he said.


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