Photographers Gone Wild – Myanmar Photo Tour Adventure

I have been on quite a number of photo tours all over the world, and Luminous Journeys has been the best – by far... Kyaw Kyaw Winn and the  people of Myanmar will always be in my heart.
Benny Hanigal

David-Lazar_Bio Photo_Bali2Photographers Gone Wild w/ Kyaw Winn has always been our most popular Myanmar photo tour workshop. Participants get more insider access and creative angles on Myanmar’s Big 4 iconic locations than any other photo tours can offer, if they can offer Myanmar at all. Since we have an office base here, we can.  

The Big 4 features Yangon’s 2,500 year old Shwedagon Pagoda & amazing street life, the floating world of magical Inle Lake & its photogenic Intha fishermen, the surreal 2,220 strong temple-scape of ancient Bagan, plus many of the myriad marvels of The Mandalay Array.

This photo tour is open to photo enthusiasts of all skill levels interested in broadening their photographic horizons and learning how to shoot pro quality images. You will be taken to numerous insider locations that would be impossible to find on your own, and also have the chance to work in a number of arranged shoot situations w/ monks and others, including low and chiaroscuro light temple and village interiors.


K.K. is a patient teacher with a wonderful demeanor who has been leading international photographers on Myanmar photo tour workshops for over a decade. He knows the country and her ethereal light like few others.  He’s technically brilliant as well, and is one of Myanmar's most widely known and influential photographer. He runs numerous workshops for Fujifilm as well as Nikon. including in Japan.


"I’m still glowing after the incredible journey (Jan 2020) through Myanmar.  KK is an amazing guy—so much fun, always smiling and happy and patient with all of us.  As well as willing to share his knowledge of photography and settings for our cameras when we were stumped. Each place we visited was more special than the last...  So thank you for arranging such a special journey.  I loved every minute." –Emily Kelting, USA


*Award winning astro and documentary photographer Boothee Thaik Htun will join the trip if we have 6 or more pax. For more about A.P. and Boothee please see Meet the Team.


Myanmar Photo Tour Highlights 

The Magnificent 2,500 Year Old Shwedagon Pagoda

The Mandalay Array – Mingun & The U Bein Bridge at Amarapura

The Thousand Monks of the Ananda Pagoda Festival

Floating Villages, Pagodas, & One Leg Rowing Intha Fishermen of Inle Lake

Novice Nuns in Pink Robes and Novice Monks  Making Alms Rounds

Portrait Session at Inle Lake with Padaung Tribal Women

Hot Air Balloon over the Surreal Temple-scape of Ancient Bagan

Inside Access at Bagna Temples to Photograph Monks in Chiaroscuro Light

Enjoy Cultural Interchange with the Most Welcoming People on Earth!

Itinerary (Days 5 - 8 will be changed soon) 

Photographers Gone Wild – Big 4 Edition 

Magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda at night in Yangon, Myanmar

Day 1 – Yangon – Spectacular Shwedagon
A Luminous Journeys representative will greet you at the airport whatever day or time you may arrive, no worries! Program begins at 3 pm with a meet & greet, followed by your first photo shoot at Shwedagon Pagoda and a nearby Buddhist monastery. A special Welcome Dinner & slideshow presentation by K.K. Winn.


Day 2 – Yangon – Bagan – Circle Train and a Pagoda Festival
Yangon’s fascinating old Circle Train, which circumnavigates the city’s rural outskirts, is gradually being modernized. This will be one of the last chances to photograph with these rustic train cars. Stop at a lively market that hugs the tracks, then head to the airport for the flight to Bagan. Free shoot festival pilgrims, then sunset temple-scapes.


Day 3 – Bagan – Hot Air Aerials & Chiaroscuro Monks
The myriad temples of Bagan define one of the great archaeological sites of the world. Flying above the vast temple-scape is a thrill few choose to miss! But if you do, K.K. will have you in a prime position to get that perfect surreal temple-scape, great sunrise light willing. Interiors w/ novice monks & chiaroscuro light follow. Free shoot the festival in the afternoon, ending w/ sunset temple panoramas.

Novice monks in Myanmar

Day 4 – Bagan – Dawn of 1,000 Monks & Pilgrim Exodus
This final day of the Ananda Pagoda Festival offers two extraordinary photo opportunities. The first @ dawn w/ 1,000 or so monks lined up to receive alms donated by the pilgrims in attendance. (We often see Steve McCurry on this morning, but no promises!) After the alms scene, pilgrims begin their exodus, many by ox drawn wagon train! Exclusive sunset temple location this evening


Day 5 – Bagan – Mindat – 2,220 Temples & the Road to Mindat
Last chance temple-scapes for that perfect sunrise before taking the scenic and interesting journey into the storied mountains of Chin State. There will be stops along the way for impromptu photography and a deliciously authentic Chin lunch at the summit. Arrive Mindat mid-afternoon, check into the new Mindat hotel and engage in some of the most unusual street shooting you will ever do.

7. Kyaw-Kyaw-Winn_Chin-Woman-Vanishing-Tribe_Myanmar

Day 6 – Mindat – Chin Villages – People & Landscapes
A full day of exciting photography at the nearby villages of Nat Htai and Pang O lay ahead. You will meet & photograph various Chin tribes, some of them Christian, with different facial tattoos and adornments. Interior environmental portraiture w/ chiaroscuro lighting offer rare image making opportunities. Time permitting, KK will take you to the prefect outlook for late afternoon mountain-scapes.

Patho Tribe-Chin Women_Matty-Karp_Myanmar

Day 7 – Mindat –Trek & Shoot Tiger Hunter Village
The trek to Tiger Hunter village takes an hour, and is moderate in difficulty. Various hut clusters are home to dozens bearing the tattoo branding particular to their tribal group. KK is known and beloved here, and the day will be a mix of free and arranged shoots in a variety of light, included interiors and chiaroscuro. It’s bound to be one of the most intriguing photographic days you’ll ever have.


Day 8 – Mindat – Mandalay – Chin Music & the U Bein Bridge
Photographing morning alms rounds of young Buddhist monks is always a wonderful experience. Before the return drive to Bagan there will be time to visit and photograph a very special Chin musician with very unusual tattoo markings that are thought to be the last of her line. Arrive back in Bagan for a quick hop flight to Mandalay. There should be time to visit the legendary U bein Bridge for sunset.

U Bein Bridge at sunrise, Myanmar photo tour

Day 9 – Mandalay – Fishermen’s Dawn & Mingun Afternoon
At sunrise catch fisherman casting nets @ the U Bein Bridge. A street shoot near the monastery of the fallen Buddha follows, w/ special access to marble Buddha sculptors. Afternoon Irrawaddy cruise to the Mingun, home of the massive, earthquake cracked Mingun temple, the stunning all white temple of Hsinbyume & more. Our favorite schoolgirl models and young monks will join us – always great fun!

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Day 10 – Mandalay – Inle –Sunrise Hill and a Magic Lake
Catch the evocative sunrise from our hidden monastery location on Mandalay Hill, then head to magical Inle Lake. The little town of Nyaungshwe is full of monasteries & nunneries to photograph, as well as excellent restaurants. Lunch here at an LJ favorite featuring delicious home-made rice pasta dishes & marvelous Inle avocado salads. After lunch hit the lake. Sunset shoot w/ Intha fishermen.

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Day 11 – Inle Lake – Mysterious Ruins and a Vanishing Tribe
Indein village is the home of Inle’s largest market, which draws various tribes from the surrounding hills. Free shoot the market & then w/ local monks at the nearby temple ruins of Nyaung Oak. On return visit the Kayaung for a “studio” portrait and environmental portrait session. The Kayaung are Myanmar’s most distinctive vanishing tribe, by virtue of the many brass rings worn around the necks of females.

Intha fishermen on Lake Inle, Myanmar, published by National Geographic

Day 12 – Inle Lake – Yangon – Fishermen Sunrise; Sunset on the River
Position before sunrise to photograph Intha fisherman as the sun breaks over the mountain & across the water to reveal a misty scene that is both peaceful & thrilling. We won’t even get into the velvety light Inle blesses us with on many of these mornings, because we haven’t the superlatives! Return to Yangon for sunset along the Wa Dan wharf, then to hopping 19 th St. for Chinatown BBQ.


Day 13 – Yangon – Nunnery Morning & Free Time
After the best buffet breakfast in Yangon, grab your gear and set out for a wonderful little nunnery. Enjoy the young ladies in pink robes as they study and go about their duties before their last meal of the day at 11:30 am. Your day is then free to do as you please. Possibly a final image review w/ KK? Shopping at the 2000 shops of Scott Market very near the hotel? Lounge with an umbrella cocktail by the pool? Special Farewell Dinner tonight, w/ spectacular views over the city.

Novice monk in Myanmar in a low light portrait by Kyaw Kyaw Winn

Day 14 – Myanmar Departure 
According to your individual departure time, you’ll be driven to the airport and bid a fond farewell. You’ll miss this place, but fortunately you’ll have unforgettable memories that will continue to resonate for a very long time. Not to mention a slew of great new images to show off!

*Please note the above itinerary is pending changes regarding Mindat.  A 30+ page final detailed schedule and information kit with all you need to know about traveling for photography in Myanmar will be sent to all participants approximately 100 days prior to tour start date.

What’s Included in the Price of Your Photo Tour?


 Photographer fees and top English speaking guide

 All accommodation

 In-country flights, airport & ground transport

  All meals from Day 1 dinner through Day 14                             breakfast

 Pleanty of bottled water & refresh towels throughout

 All entrance, zone and camera fees

 Local model, village, monsastery donations


 International airfare

 Drinks @ lunches & dinners

 Any personal purchases

 Trip cancellation or medical insurance

 Medical expenses

 Gratuities for hotel porters, local guide & drivers

  Myanmar visa fee

 End of trip gratuities for photographer tour leader

Getting Cultural

More Knowledge – Better Pictures

Uniquely Burma – Thanaka

Thanaka paste, made from the fragrant Thanaka tree, has been used in Myanmar for more than 2,000 years . The little girl shown on the left has gone a bit over the top with her Thanaka, which is worn daily by a majority of Myanmar women and children, but less so by men. The most popular varieties are grown in the Sagaing (Shwebo) and Magway (Shinmadaung) regions.

The paste is considered a fashion statement by many, and also serves as a natural sunscreen, skin cooler, and is also believed to help in the mitigation of acne. It comes in many personalized designs, the most common being circular patches on each cheek and a line down the bridge of the nose.

Other styles range from well-drawn Bodhi leaves on both cheeks to Mickey Mouse to heavy duty smear jobs. It is sometimes applied to all exposed skin, head to toe. In Burmese this is called thanaka chi zoun gaung zounFun Travel Tip: Burmese absolutely love it when travelers wear Thanaka, and it’s quite a fun scene to ask someone to show you how to mix and apply it!

A monk prays at Golden Rock of Kyaiktyo in Myanmar

Buddhism – The Heart of Myanmar

More than any other mostly Buddhist country in the world, Myanmar wears its religion on its sleeve, so to speak. 89% of the country is Buddhist. Red or maroon robed monks are seen everywhere you go, from morning alms rounds on the streets to visiting a mobile phone shop.Pink robed nuns are not quite as conspicuous, but you see them around as well. They operate in a more limited but similar fashion as monks, and their numbers are considerably fewer. Photographically, the unique pink in the right light makes for some lovely, ethereal images.

The monastery is central to Burmese life, and dates back to the 11th century. The system is supported by the local community. In return, the monastery is always there in various ways to help support the community. They provide Buddhist education, council, ceremonial services, physical labor for community projects, shelter, and even permanent residence for the elderly or orphaned.

Branded – The Women of Chin

For centuries, few outsiders ever dared to venture into the remote mountains of what is now called Chin State, west of Shan. The Chin people were known has fierce warriors who, when they vanquished an enemy, engaged in ritual cannibalism in order to make their victory complete. This also served to keep intruders to a minimum!

The Chin originated from the Chindwin Plain and the valley of Kabaw-Kale in northwest Myanmar, but were driven into the mountains of the west to what is now called Chin State by Shan invaders in the 10 the century. They number about 600,000 and are one of the country’s largest ethnic minorities. Due to the diaspora and the rugged terrain, the Chin broke into many different tribes and developed over 40 dialects that are quite distinct from one another. These days more and more Burmese is spoken, especially among the younger generations.

Warring amongst the disparate Chin tribes was common for centuries. One of the great spoils of victory was kidnapping their foes women and making them their own. The problem became so rampant that tribal chiefs started to brand their older girls and women on the face and neck, in designs unique to their particular tribe. And it worked, more or less. While you might see some Chin ladies, circumstances on the ground make it unsafe to visit Chin State. We will resume travel there as soon as it's safe to do so.

1. Bennett-Stevens_Chin-Tribe_Myanmar_alt=Myanmar photo tour image of Chin tattoo tribe women.