Evening on the Iconic U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Evening scene on U-Bein Bridge: a woman with a basket stands on the wooden bridge, silhouetted against a purple sky, Amarapura, Myanmar

Quiet Time on U-Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar
(For you purists out there, the purple cast is the result of a little artistic licence and Lightroom split-toning, rather than pure nature.)

Does originality matter any more?

That was the question posed today by a photographer who’s Facebook feed I look in on from time to time. He was lamenting the fact that a picture awarded a first place for “Sports Action” by World Press Photo was an image he considered unoriginal, by virtue of the fact that other photographers had previously taken similar pictures from similar points of view.

Personally, I think it depends, at least partially, on one’s purpose. An artist should aim to be original, so for photographic contests, one can rightfully expect that originality would be part of the criteria.

My work is not particularly original. Although I keep trying to ground my photographic technique and to stretch my artistic eye, I will never be a pace-setter.

Nor am I a trail-blazer. Most of the places I visit are also on other people’s itineraries; they have been seen and documented before. For example, the U-Bein Teak Bridge over Taungthaman Lake, south of Mandalay, has been photographed so often at sunset that it is one of Myanmar’s most iconic images.

That didn’t stop me from wanting to see it and photograph it myself.

View over the painted wooden boats on Taungthaman Lake to U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Wooden Boats Waiting
The best way to photograph those iconic silhouettes is from a hired boat on Taungthaman Lake.

Standing boatman in a pith-hat and two men seated with large cameras, watching the foot-traffic on U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Cameras Ready!
With Taungthaman Lake filling up with tourists and photographers, the likelihood of getting a shot like no other reduces considerably.

I visited the bridge on two successive evenings last September as part of a photographic tour facilitated by photographer Karl Grobl and guide Mr MM. And, my nine travel-companions and myself were not alone in carrying camera equipment. A truly original image might be hard to come by!

Sihouettes of burmese crossing U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar, at twilight.

Fading Light
The 1.2km bridge, built from teak timbers recovered from the Amarapura palace when King Mindon relocated to Mandalay in 1852, is in daily use as means of crossing the big lake.

Young burmese woman in silhouette against evening light, U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Heading Home

A child and two burmese monks at twilight, U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Comings and Goings

Last light behind U Bein Bridge, a lone man walking, and the Spiral Temple, Amarapura, Myanmar

Last Light

Sihouette of a burmese man and stacked chairs; view over Taungthaman Lake and U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Restaurant on the Shore
There are a number of places on the lake’s shore where you can watch the light fade over the famous bridge.

View of the teak bridge supports and the wooden planking, U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Teak Posts
On my second visit, I opted to walk out over the lake.

Burmese monks and other locals on U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Monks on the Bridge

Landscape: Quiet evening on Taungthaman Lake, Amarapura, Myanmar

Still Waters
Taungthaman Lake is quiet on the far side of the bridge.

Landscape: the white Spiral Buddhist Temple reflected in the quiet waters of Taungthaman Lake Amarapura, Myanmar

Spiral Temple
On the shore, a Buddhist temple is reflected in the waters of the lake.

Landscape: tourist boat on and fishermen in Taungthaman Lake, Amarapura, Myanmar

Taungthaman Lake
A tourist boat works its way past fishermen wading in the shallow waters.

Burmese Fisherman in a pith-hat up to his waist in water, carrying his thongs and his catch, under U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Under the bridge, a fisherman prepares to come in for the day. At regular intervals, there are stairs up and down from the water.

Looking up at the U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Life on the Bridge
I took a boat from the middle of the lake for the remains of the evening.

Two burmes Monks looking over the railing on U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Monks on the Bridge

Silhouettes of two monks on U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Monks on the Bridge
Like other tourists on the bridge, visiting monks take pictures of themselves.

Sunset silhouette of a crowd on U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Sunset Silhouettes
As the sun goes down, the crowd on the bridge grows in number.

Silhouetted against a yellow sunset Couple on the Bridge U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Young Couple

Burmese monks silhouetted against a deep blue sky, U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

The Blue Hour

Last Light U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Last Light

Burmese man walking a bicycle, silhouetted against a sunset sky, U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar

Back to Shore 

Text: Happy Rambling“Original” or not, the experience is as important to me as the outcome. I love the travel, and the chance to see places for myself, especially those iconic and oft-visited places that have been photographed many, many times before.

That is good enough for me.

Written: 11August2013

Photographs: 14-15September2012

  • Sally Bates - August 23, 2013 - 12:57 pm

    I absolutely your pictures Ursula.
    They are so professional and the title at the bottom of each photo has a nice touch.
    You obviously love what you do.
    No wonder you two travel so much.
    Thank you…ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - August 23, 2013 - 1:11 pm

      Thank YOU for joining me, Sally! You are welcome along any time. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • gabe - August 26, 2013 - 9:14 am

    Love the quality of the photos and the serenity depicted along the bridgeReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *