The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

WoWasis book review ‘Burmese Light’ photo essay by Hans Kemp & Tom Vater

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 19•16

BurmeseLightCoverHere at WoWasis, we’re always interested in books on photography focusing on Asian countries, but have gotten to the point where large format coffee table sized books are creating a storage problem in our library. Because of that, they never get read beyond the first opening. We welcomed, therefore, photographer Hans Kemp and writer Tom Vater’s Burmese Light: Impressions of the Golden Land (2013, ISBN 978-962-85637-0-8), a handsomely printed smaller book of photos and text depicting a number of the elements that make Burma (Myanmar) one of Asia’s most impressive stops.

Kemp’s a wonderful photographer with an eye for the unusual (his earler book on Vietnamese motorbikes and everything they carry is remarkable), and here he explores everything from nats to thanaka to cheroots in a 200 page book featuring text by Tom Vater. Here are scenes from everyday life interspersed with temples, monks, and fish mongers. Curious Buddhist novices arch out of ancient carved windows shadowed in high relief at the Golden Palace Monastery as the sun peels away in the afternoon’s ebbing layers, a technique that Kemp uses again to magnificent effect in witnessing a monk steeping through the shadows and time-worn reliefs at Kothaung Pagoda.


Inle Lake, photo by Hans Kemp

The book attempts to be inclusive rather than encyclopaedic, providing a snapshot of six geographical areas (Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake, Mrauk-U, the Irrawaddy) and nine social themes. Our favorite photos were those of Inle Lake, exploring a vibrant culture through striking photographs that are as worthy of a gallery exhibit as a book.

The book is meant to be used and shown, it’s bound and sewn well in Flexi-boards, and provides both a wonderful introduction to as well as a useable memoir of a country that is increasingly the focus of travelers seeking to explore a world less traveled. Buy this book now at the WoWasis eStore.

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