To read Part 1 first, please go here.
In 1990 few people in Myanmar owned cameras, and most of those who did lived in Yangon or Mandalay. In rural areas, one didn’t have to look far to find a person who had never had even a single photograph taken of themselves. Very often family portraits were painted by local artists, and any photographs one might have were usually of poor quality, cracked and faded.
Within a couple of days, once the shy Kyaw Kyaw Winn had worked up the courage, he took his camera and approached a neighbor family with his idea, quietly proposing a family portrait. The kindly neighbors accepted, and for the grand sum of about .75 cents, the 9-year old Kyaw Kyaw Winn became a professional photographer!
In addition to portrait making, by the time he finished high school K.K.’s virtual photographic monopoly in the tri-village area had him well experienced in shooting weddings and other events. He knew what he wanted to do and where he had to do it – Yangon. And so armed with “big fish small pond” confidence, he left home for Myanmar’s largest city.
The very first thing K.K. did, even before having a place to stay, was to seek out the Myanmar Photographic Society and enroll in a general photography course. By the end of the first class he was a little crestfallen. The work of his instructor and others during a slideshow presentation had made it clear that there had been a role reversal.
He realized he was now a little fish in a big pond, with quite a lot to learn! He freely admits to not being very good during that first year, but it only made him more determined. He studied and worked hard, taking and developing all the pictures he could. It was early in his second year in Yangon that he began to pick up some work through the Society, and by the end of 2000 had saved enough to purchase his first brand new camera, a Nikon FM10. And the rest as they say, is history.
A history, for the 3-time Myanmar Photographer of the Year, that includes over 500 local and international image awards and major competition wins. He’s been published in numerous print magazines and newspapers around the world, and been exhibited throughout Asia as well as been part of a number of collective shows in a number of Western countries, including the United States.
Some of K.K’s most meaningful work comes from his position as chief photographer for UNICEF in Myanmar, and he is honored to be the British Embassy’s official snapper as well. In 2014 he was named executive editor of the U.K.’s Digital Photography magazine (Burmese edition), and was chosen to team with the likes of Steve McCurry, Michael Yamashita, Abbas, etc., to photograph EDM Books multi-media project, “7 Days in Myanmar”.
K.K. also leads one day workshops for both Nikon & Fujifilm, as well as two week travel photography workshops for Luminous Journeys. All that said, Kyaw Kyaw Winn is only 38-years old, and having been hidden away in Myanmar and Eastern Asia for most of his career, is just getting started!
You can travel and photograph with KK on his next Myanmar photo tour workshop!