Hand Weaving, Myanmar (Burma)

Inside a small floating village on the east banks of Inle Lake, Central Myanmar, an indigenous Kayan woman (a Tibeto-Burman ethnic minority) hand produces traditional clothing and crafts. The materials, colours and traditional craft manufacturing in this shot is very interesting. However, the characteristic here that really fascinates me is the tradition of the large amount of brass rings around her neck. I had the opportunity to pick up a set of these rings (same size as the ones around her neck), and wow are they heavy! Kayan girls first put these rings on when they are around 5 years old, and slowly build upon the coils every couple of years. The weight of the brass eventually pushes the collar bone down, compressing the rib cage. Contrary to popular belief; the length of the neck doesn’t actually get any longer, but appears this way due to the deformed clavicle.

To get this shot, I politely asked if I could take a photo, and with small head nod from her before she continued on back to her work, I proceeded to quickly get in, take the shot, and get out. I chose to shoot this with my favourite portrait lens (50mm prime), with an aperture of f/1.8 to really single her out against a blurred background. I used point focus here to ensure her face was in focus to bring out the character. I chose this perspective, as it’s looking down over her hand made creation, creating a slight leading line, and capturing her face-on in action.

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