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Warning! Top-notch instant cameras known to boost happiness.
Professional Travel & Portrait Photographer David McConaghy takes the instax SQUARE SQ10 to Myanmar to create incredibly unique instax prints.
Written by David McConaghy
I’ve just returned from a trip around Myanmar, I wanted to see some of the sights but also wanted the focus of this trip to be the people that make up the country.
When previously taking travel portraits on other trips, I found the experience very one sided; I would talk and communicate with someone and ask to take their photo, but I was always very aware that they would get nothing really out of it, other than a bit of chat from myself. I wanted to change this, I wanted a way to give back something to those I met and photographed along the trip.
After doing a little bit of research online I found the instax range, firstly the instax mini 9, 70 and 90, but later found myself most excited about the instax SQUARE SQ10. Being a hybrid instant and digital camera; you take a shot, view the photo on the digital screen on the back of the camera, you can print the image but also save it to print at a later date, or multiple times. One can also put a filter on the shot, which immediately gives so many options – instead of buying a variety of films with different effects, it’s all in camera! Then my favourite feature; to crop the image – reason being is that when you take a shot the camera is fixed at 28mm, so fairly wide. When taking someone’s portrait/headshot their face and body can appear a little distorted, so taking a slightly wider shot and cropping the image in around their face/shoulders gives the image the right aspect.
I started the trip in Ngapali, a beach town on the Western coast of Myanmar. A white-sand beach, decorated with palm trees, and old, rustic fishing boats, and vivid turquoise water, where every night night the sun sets into the ocean.
From there, I went on to Chin State, a very remote district in the north west of the country with a tribal community where the women of the tribe traditionally have facial tattoos. This part of their culture was banned in 1962, so the majority of the women with the facial tattoos are 60-80 years old, and this element of their culture is dying out.
Next stop on my Myanmar adventure was one of the countries biggest tourist attractions; Bagan – 2000+ temples dotted over around 100 square KMs, some of which are over 1000 years old. Without too many rules and regulations you can explore these temples. They are set on vast plains, so with a good vantage point one can see green lush bushes with temples peaking out for as far as the eye can see. It’s a truly magical place!
After 2 days in Bagan, I left for Mandalay, the 2nd largest city in Myanmar. Usually I avoid large cities in foreign countries; but there was a place I had set my eye on to visit; Mingun Pagoda.
About 10-15 years ago, I found an image that I fell in love with. It had no details of where it was or who it was by, but later I would find out it was taken by Steve McCurry – one of my favourite photographers and big inspirations, and taken at the Mingun Pagoda in Myanmar. A young Monk helped me create some images I am super happy with and as a little thank you I used the instax to take his portrait and create a similar photo for him to keep.
Also while in Mandalay I also wanted to check out the Royal Palace, the architecture was so unique!
That takes me to the end of my trip.
I’m such a big fan of the instax SQUARE SQ10 with its abundance of features, and I have quite a few ideas of how I can use this commercially too. I found it refreshing using this medium and it made me think outside of the box and more creatively! As a result I have a series of really unique shots!
David McConaghy is a London based Portrait and Travel Photographer; his passion routes from his love to explore the world and it’s cultures, documenting each moment as it comes.