Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Archaeology Dept to charge commercial photographers

Photographers who take photos for advertisements, calendars and pre-weddings in Bagan will have to pay K100,000 per day, U Aung Aung Kyaw, director of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library in Bagan, told The Myanmar Times.

A file photo of a tourist taking photographs in Bagan. Thiri Lu / The Myanmar TimesA file photo of a tourist taking photographs in Bagan. Thiri Lu / The Myanmar Times

Pre-wedding photos at Bagan have become very popular since 2016, so the department is worried about damage and improper behavior at the Archaeological Zone, he said.

“A directive issued in 2005 established the right to collect fees from those engaged in business, such as commercial photographers, filmmakers and news agencies,” U Aung Aung Kyaw said. They will collect K500,000 per day for movie shoots.

Earlier this year, a foreign photographer had some novice monks play football for a photo shoot. Also, part of the film ‘Kyun’ (God’s Servant) was shot in Bagan, and a foreigner was photographed without clothes on in the Archaeological Zone.

One Myanmar photographer also locked the entrance doors of an ancient pagoda so as not to be disturbed during a photo shoot, which caused other people to complain to the department.

One famous local photographer, Bagan Min Min Oo, said the fees for shooting at Bagan pose an unnecessary hardship for shutterbugs like himself who are not commercial photographers.

“Art students and amateur photographers are not commercial. They spend at least K250,000 for travel to Bagan and then they have to pay another K100,000 when they get there. If I don’t make up that money by selling photos at an exhibition, I will not be able to afford any more photos of Bagan,” he said.

The Archaeology Department should issue a clear list of do’s and don’ts concerning photo-taking and respect for Myanmar traditional culture, according to travel experts.

Since business in Bagan relies heavily on tourism, letting professional photographers take photos of Bagan will help give the site more recognition among foreign travelers, U Kyaw Swa Min, a tourism expert, said.

“Not many people know about Bagan. Compared to Angkor Wat, which has 5 million tourists, Bagan has only 300,000. However, while tourism promotion is important, we should not allow those who don’t respect our cultural traditions,” he said.