After five years of work, 38 flights, and 10 separate visas to Burma, photographer David Heath released his first book late last year. Burma is undeniably one of the most raw and photogenic places on earth, and Heath brought an eye to the region that can only be explained by his hours logged behind the lens and devotion to this project.
We asked Heath about some of his favorite images and got a preview into his 248-page book Burma: An Enchanted Spirit.
Photo: The Moken, or Sea Gypsies, are one of 135 distinct ethnic tribes in Burma. They are a nomadic, seafaring tribe whose traditional ways of life are in danger due to ever-increasing exposure to the Western world. I was on a boat in the Andaman Sea watching the men spear their daily meal of fish.
Photo: This boy is a novice monk, about six or seven years old. His eyes are so expressive, you can really see the joy and inner peace conveyed despite the hardships of the Burmese people. Many young monks who attend Buddhist monastic schools are either orphans or very poor. Their families send them to ensure they have an education, food, and a roof over their heads. Young novices become monks at the age of 20.
Photo: Taken on Inle Lake from a boat in the early morning sunrise. The Intha fisherman reminded me of a choreographed ballet. Deftly balancing as they rowed their boats by wrapping one leg around an oar, they leave both hands free to cast their nets.
Photo: This shot was taken on top of a temple during a sunset overlooking the Ananda and Thabanyu Buddhist temples in Bagan. There are over 2,000 temples and pagodas here. This location is in a rural farming area in the middle of Burma and many of these structures are about 1,000 years old. The site is quite extraordinary; the surrounding land is very dry and flat, with farmer’s smoke and mist billowing over rice, bean, and sesame fields as far as the eye can see.
Photo: A personal favorite of mine captured in a Bagan Monastery. These young monks are quick to laugh, very curious, and truly enjoyable to be around. I try to donate to the monasteries I visit because I want to give thanks to them for allowing me to take such wonderful, intimate photographs.
Photo: Fisherman at sunrise from the shores of Taung Tha Man Lake, Amarapura in Mandalay.
Photo:One morning I was crossing a famous teakwood bridge in Mandalay called U Bein and saw a woman fishing on Taung Tha Man Lake. A beautiful sunrise created a mirror-like reflection on the water, and the woman appear to be walking on clouds.
Photo: Here I was on a mountaintop in Mrauk U, a town in the western part of Burma, with 360-degree views of temples all around, enveloped in layers of mist and smoke. We trekked barefoot up a small mountain just before sunrise to set up the tripod. This area is a holy site and secluded with very few tourists.
Photo: An eel fisherman near Inle lake in the Shan state. The small woven basket holds the trap and worms, while the large basket holds the eel.