Every Myanmarese Buddhist boy between the age of 7 through 13 is expected to spend at least a few weeks as a novice monk and this is becoming more common for girls. Monastic life is a good alternative for girls in one of the poorest countries in the world, promising food and lodging for life without being dependent on a husband.
Myanmar – Photo Tip

The power of a well-executed portrait

Photo by Andy Maluche

Myanmar – Photo Tip The power of a well-executed portrait

There I saw her in Myanmar, a little girl in a pink robe. There was something different about her, she was absolutely striking. Deserving of a portrait.

Andy Maluche
Andy Maluche

For many years I was not interested in setting up traditional portraits. I preferred a more journalistic approach that included the setting and so I often "stole" my pictures. When I was in Myanmar with Ron Fricke, the director of the breathtaking non-verbal documentaries Barako and Samsara, I noticed he went all the way with portraits – they were close up and tightly cropped. I realized these two methods can co-exist.

We went to a Buddhist monastery where there were many little nuns in pink robes walking around. An amazingly photogenic place. I could point my camera in any direction and I had a picture.

But then I spotted this little girl, I immediately noticed that there was something different about her. Besides being pretty, she was as interested in what I was doing as I was in her. She was also conscious about her missing front teeth.

But when I showed her the pictures on my LCD screen and realized that she actually looks pretty, we connected.

For a good portrait, after checking the light, it’s all in the eyes, expression and connection. The background becomes irrelevant, even a distraction, so I blurred it out by using a very low f-stop and a long lens. My sweet spot is around 100-120 mm. I use a zoom because it allows me to adjust the layout fast.

I still like to shoot wide-angle. But then I get out my long lens and try to capture that amazing smile, beautiful eyes or deep-rooted expression. There is a reason why the most powerful magazine covers are using close-up portraits, a good portrait connects with you on a deep level.

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The food given to each monk is divided fairly within the monastery but some nunneries are split up into a number of separate households, called "pots". Each pot shares their food firstly with each other before sharing with other pots, reflecting a structure within a nunnery where individuals might set up their own household. Photo by Andy Maluche

Andy Maluche

Andy Maluche

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Aperture
ƒ/4
Exposure
1/100
ISO
200
Focal
105 mm

The food given to each monk is divided fairly within the monastery but some nunneries are split up into a number of separate households, called "pots". Each pot shares their food firstly with each other before sharing with other pots, reflecting a structure within a nunnery where individuals might set up their own household.

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