On the frontlines of freedom of expression: Photojournalism in Myanmar

One of the winning photos from this year’s Yangon Photo Festival. Photo courtesy of photographer

Depicting the lives of everyday people and the country’s ongoing conflicts remains a sensitive undertaking in Myanmar. Since 2009, IMS has trained over 250 photojournalists in the art of telling stories with photos.

Myanmar photographers from all parts of the country are offered the opportunity to participate in multimedia training courses to equip them with the skills to tell journalistic stories by merging photos, text and sound. Several of the photographers who took part in training, are now working internationally.

Documenting history

He started out as an award-winning classical pianist, but sold his piano to buy a camera. A few months later, he had his first international breakthrough and now belongs to the new generation of photojournalists in Myanmar set on documenting history in the country.

Min Zayar Oo is one of the many young photographers who has taken part in IMS-organised workshops in ­Yangon on photojournalism.

“In 2011 when I began taking photos, I primarily focused on landscape photography,” Min Zayar Oo explained. “But I also wanted to take pictures of something more important, more powerful, but didn’t know where to start.”

At the workshops, students were asked to tell a story through a series of images, combining photos with sound and text. Min Zayar Oo first chose to depict the beauty of giving birth, but instead ended up focusing on the unhygienic conditions in the hospital.

“I always thought a good picture was about technique, and having the best camera. But the workshops taught me that it is not about the camera. It is about the subject, about the message you want to convey with your photos and about ensuring that this message is important for the subject of your pictures.”

Read the full story of Minzayar Oo.

Since 2009, the annual Yangon Photo Festival under the patronage of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has showcased the best of the photo stories produced by amateur Myanmar photographers during the weeks of intensive photo journalism training by IMS.

The Yangon Photo Festival’s 7th edition supported by International Media Support (IMS) took place from 13-21 February 2015. See the moving photojournalism series that won top prizes this year.