Behind the Frame: Burma 2009
Our blog is intended to inspire and educate others about documentary photography. In our Behind the Frame series, we’ve asked staff and students to go back to their favorite images over the years and tell us, “Why does this stand out to you as an exceptional documentary moment?” We hope you enjoy what they have to say!
Student: Kin Dias
Workshop: Burma 2009: The Art of Travel Narrative
Instructor: Seth Butler
“Kin Dias is one of the most present individuals I have ever had the pleasure of working with during our travel workshops. This personality trait—coupled with a passion for learning and seeking out new experiences—make him an ideal photographer and traveling companion.
When the above image was created, it was during the first few days of the workshop, and we were scouting a pagoda festival together to see if there was any photographic potential for a return visit. He decided to ride the Ferris wheel and asked if I would join him just for fun. This was our second time working with Kin on a travel photography workshop in Burma, and from the time we picked him up at the airport, it was clear he had arrived with new eyes and a fresh outlook on his photography.
When I asked him about his goals for our workshop together, he answered with the following response:
‘Suppose you are from any other planet, and you just land in Myanmar, and you don’t know anything. What do you feel? What do you feel about the people, what do you feel when they laugh, about their sense of community, about [their] love?’
His intuition for seeing photographs was inspired by the above questions, and he set out to discover the country with this renewed outlook. The image above is only a small testament to his educational journey during the workshop. Where before he had struggled with photographing people, he now found confidence in his curiosity of our shared sense of humanity.
I had heard his shutter quietly clicking away during our Ferris wheel ride, but it was not until we had returned to the car that he shared the above image with me. I was completely astounded that he had seen this intimate family moment in the next Ferris wheel bucket so well—and proud to see that he had waited for the lights from the Ferris wheel to articulate the subject so clearly.
This quiet moment was one of the first during the workshop where he had successfully waited out the photograph he sought. Here, he set the tone for creating a very authentic and unique portfolio of work from Burma. His portfolio remains some of the strongest student work I have seen from our travel photography workshops—one that clearly reflected his unique personal vision.“
About the author…
Seth Butler has been working as a documentarian covering national and global socioeconomic and humanitarian issues for the last eleven years. Seth lives in Vermont where he has been working on a long term documentary multimedia project on sustainable living, studying farmers, architects and educators making a positive impact on the environment. When not leading workshops for Momenta and traveling on assignment, he is ever devoted to perfecting his mountain biking and snowboarding skills.