Yangon, Myanmar.
Yangon, Myanmar

As I have only five nights left in Myanmar and need to get back into shooting again after an extended break, I thought it a healthy challenge to use all five lenses I brought but limit myself to only one lens per day. Not only does limitation serve creativity, it lightens the load! Last night, Maggie and I went to Yangon’s China Town with the Carl Zeiss 100mm macro.

Carl Zeiss 100mm macro.
Carl Zeiss 100mm macro, f2.0

In the past, I’ve primarily used this lens to get in close: blades of grass, book pages, old maps, jewelry, eyes. But last night, I wanted to see what could be done in low light when things are a bit further away.

China Town, Yangon, Myanmar.
Market, China Town
Rice bowl, China Town, Yangon, Myanmar.
Rice bowl
IMG_0025
Street vendor

And of course, up close the Zeiss macro cannot be matched.

Chilis. China Town, Yangon, Myanmar.
Chilis
Street food. China Town, Yangon, Myanmar.
Street food
Myanmar lager beer. 19th Street, Yangon, Myanmar.
Myanmar Lager Beer

If one is a foreigner and lingers even a short time around the 19th Street area, street kids will sporadically appear asking for money.

Child. China Town, Yangon, Myanmar.
Child, 19th Street

This child held my attention.  He spent roughly the same measure of time hovering around each table before moving on, mostly without collecting anything, stoically making his evening rounds before disappearing down the street.  I got up to see where he went, knowing full well that bringing him money would perpetuate the lifestyle he was very likely forced into by some older person’s depravity or his family’s desperation.  By the time I reached the street, he had already joined a group of other kids moving quickly away.

19th Street, Yangon, Myanmar.
19th Street

In a matter of moments my zeal for the Zeiss waned and gave way to heartbreak, firstly for this young boy who had to spend his nights collecting money from drunk foreigners, and secondly that I’ve witnessed this same exact scene in many other parts of the world.

I am grateful for my friends at Life Impact International here in Myanmar (and in Thailand and Brazil) working diligently to rescue exploited children. Thanks to folks like them, things are far from hopeless.

The full gallery from my evening in China Town:

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Written by Ryan Staples

Writer | DP | Editor | Filmmaker