Kekku Pagodas, Myanmar
When asked to write about some of the favorite places I've been as a photographer, I immediately made a journey back through my mind to the first places I traveled with a camera. In tracing that journey I couldn't help but think how my views on travel and adventure and photography have changed over time. In my earliest travels I was a simple backpacker, picking up better lenses and more film to take with me on each journey. Having come from a small town in Wyoming, I was still looking for everything as far away from home as I could get. I was looking for the most exotic places, the most remote, the places with no guidebooks. The places Traveler magazine hadn’t done any stories on! So here, in a handful of images, are a few of the places that I've fallen in love with—and some insight into my journey as a photographer.
In some of my earliest travels, with my first cameras, I found a place not on any maps or in any guidebooks. I was crossing Asia overland in 1999, and at the time Burma (Myanmar) was still quite hard to get to. Outside the capital of Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the country felt like it was hundreds of years back in time, with temples covered in real gold and streets filled with what appeared to be more monks than normal villagers at times. It was on that journey that I found the temple complex of Kekku. I was told about it by a monk at Inle Lake, who said that the area had recently opened up, and only two Westerners had visited it in many decades. What I found when I arrived there two days later—on a tiny dirt road and with no chance of tourists in sight—were thousands of small pagodas with fragile Buddha statues in nooks on every side or just laying around on the ground, dissolving into the earth. It was truly like finding a hidden city. I knew that it would change very quickly, that it would be looted and cleaned up and roads would be paved for tourist buses. So I took as many photos as I could before continuing my journey east. I did return two years later to find that the road was being paved, a restaurant had been built, and the tour buses had started to arrive.
Aaron Huey is a National Geographic photographer and a contributing editor for Harper's Magazine. Aaron lives in Seattle with his wife Kristin, his son Hawkeye, and his dog Suki. Follow Aaron on Instagram @argonautphoto.
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Photographer Aaron Huey's Favorite Places to Photograph
Aaron Huey has traveled the world, shooting in some of the planet's most beautiful locations. In his own words, Huey tells us about his favorite places to visit—and photograph.