buddha baby before the tears
The little Buddha baby, being held up by his mother, so proud, for me to photograph. This was a really common thing I regret I didn't capture better (or, rather, more often).
When I arrived in a village, I would walk off alone, the only way I can really comfortably interact with and photograph the people, take my time, not feel pressured or distracted by other people.
I first wandered down the main street that I had come in on. Lots of kids were walking to school in their green pants or skirts, the sort of Burmese school uniform everywhere I traveled. They walked and giggled, looking back at me, stopping, but too nervous to approach. I was still unused to all the attention this early in the trip, and frankly, it made me very uncomfortable to be so ogled by anyone who saw me. There was no being unobtrusive, a tall, pale, short haired, blue eyed girl with a whopping big camera. So much for that theory. After a few minutes, I coaxed a few of the more intrepid kids over, took their picture, and showed it to them. At first they didn't understand what I was trying to do, and were rather intimidated by the camera. As soon as they realized that it was them, their giggling and chatter drew more until I had a little grubby grinning circle around me. You can't really take good shots from 2cm away, but we hung out for awhile showing them pictures from around the village.
When we walked on, they to school, me back into the smaller side paths of the village, one little guy stayed behind, my little shadow on a bike, one who couldn't afford to go to school. He stayed with me, but never came close, the whoel time I walked the village, occasionally beckoning me to follow a path. Eventually, he led me to his home, where news of my arrival had preceded me.
Whole families came out of their houses, mothers holding their babies up for the camera, but shy themselves. Since 40% of the population is under 18, there are understandably many more shots of kids than adults, as I met far far more of them in my wanderings. The adults were usually either working or inside their homes. In this shot, the baby, confused by the hooplah, has not yet gotten overwhelmed. His mother doesn't know she is in the picture (I'm sneaky) although she later saw it and laughed and laughed, shaking her finger at me for including her, but then posing for another one with a big smile.
The previous photo shows the little Buddha baby as he dissolved in tears, taken so they would let him down from his place of pride - held high in the air for the camera.
It was these interactions that meant the most to me, had I not gotten anything of quality out of them, photographically speaking, they would still be the highlights of my travel.