The Nuns of Sulamani, Bagan

After some very early sunrise photography I headed over to the stunning Sulamani temple, built in 1183. After touring around and taking some photos of buddha statues and monks praying inside I saw some monks outside of the temple and followed them to their beautiful monastery next door. I walked in and as usual the monks inside were more than happy to have their photos taken. The master even told me that some nuns were scheduled to visit the next day! The nuns were on a 24 hour long bus ride through Myanmar and and were only staying for a day or two at most before leaving for their final destination. I excitedly came back the next day and was treated to some of the most beautiful children of the trip.

One of the little nuns really liked me and followed me around for the few hours I was there – it should be pretty easy to spot which one. It’s a general philosophy of mine to not set up models and this little nun was a dream to photograph and interact with. She would follow me around while still going about her day and she absolutely loved when I showed her photos that i took of her.

My new best friend stands in front of a well and looks intense. You can see the well reflecting in her eyes.

Nuns playing around. They were trying to get my attention since I was off photographing monks that were playing around. Soon after this shot they got scolded for “behavior unfitting of nuns”. Whoops, my bad!

She just kept following me. Absolutely stunning.

The nuns were usually pretty stoic but every so often I’d notice them being silly and having fun.

No peeking!

Hoping for a better future?

Walking very quietly.

Very proud of her little nunlings™, even if they WERE acting up at times.

A nun looks to the elder nun for approval.


Picking flowers. This was one of the most beautiful things I saw on the entire trip but I couldn’t get low enough to photograph it properly. By the time I was literally laying on my side the nun looked up and laughed at me but the moment was gone.

This nun was quite fond of this well, she was often found near it while the other girls played.


A nun leans out of her window and contemplates.

The older nuns in training were really bored but one of them kept stealing glances at the monk boys. Oh my!

Just after a long meditation session.

Nuns in a row

Nuns seems to really love pink… even their bathroom is pink!

Some dirty robes hanging out to dry. In the background you can see some of the famous Bagan temples and stupas.

At the end of the night the nuns retired to some sort of recreation room (complete with a radio and a television!) to chant. It was incredibly beautiful to listen to, and just across the courtyard the monks were chanting in complete darkness.

The girls were all excited to see the photos so I went through and showed them the highlights. Yes, my knees typically look like that after a long day of shooting. It’s a good thing you can’t see the back of my pants… I sit on the ground even more than I kneel when photographing children!

I hope you all get a chance to visit some young nuns in Myanmar. None of them seemed to speak English but I could tell they were some of the most gentle and genuinely sweet people I’ve ever come across in all of my travels.