The first time I traveled to Burma, I knew very little about the country and it’s politics. I remember being struck by the meditative beauty of the landscape, the sensory chaos of the cities, and the quiet elegance of the people. As I read and learned more about the history and political situation, it seemed as though the only news and images coming from the country were exceedingly negative and ugly. Most tourists are kept away from this reality, myself included. I wanted to photograph the people I was spending my time with and soon my days were all about making pictures. What I was drawn to were the areas outside the cities, the villages next to the river, where fishermen and their families lived and worked. In that spare and graphic river setting, I made intimate portraits, mostly of the men I encountered, in isolated and stylized poses. My impression is that much of the country looks like early 20th century images and I kept my version of that look in mind as I made my photographs.
I travel with my Bronica medium format camera, one lens, and a few plastic bags filled with Ilford Delta 400 film. My photographs are printed from negatives in my traditional darkroom and selenium toned. I print in editions of 25, on 16″x 20″ paper, and prices increase as the edition sells.
Monica Denevan was born in San Francisco and studied photography at San Francisco State University but it wasn’t until she started traveling extensively that she began to see differently. She has been visiting parts of Burma and China for many years, always with her Bronica, an open mind and a sense of humor. Monica’s photographs have been exhibited internationally. Her work had been published in LensWork, ZYZZYVA, Bangkok Airways Inflight Magazine, Black+White Photography (UK), Communication Arts Photo Annual, SHOTS, Black and White Magazine, The Photo Review, The Sun, and Artvas-The Photo (Korea) among others. Online, her work has been featured on LENSCRATCH, F-Stop magazine, and Le Journal de la Photographie. She is represented by Scott Nichols Gallery in San Francisco, Capital Culture Gallery in London, and Serindia Gallery in Bangkok. Monica’s photographs are in the permanent collection of UCSF Medical Center.