PHUKET: To visit Bagan in Central Myanmar is to walk through a portal back in time. Life meanders at a much slower cadence here and it’s simple beauty can’t help but soak into your bones.

For over 2,500 years the tradition of Buddhist monks walking morning alms has been rooted here. It’s a glimpse into the very fabric of Burmese culture and I wanted to capture an image that would portray this as beautifully as possible.

On this balmy summer day in Bagan, I woke before dawn and knew exactly where I would spend my early morning hours waiting for the sun to rise. It was still think dark of night as I made my way to the long, grand marble corridor that I had found and staked out the day previous. I chose this location knowing that when the light of the sun squeezed through the hundreds of columns it would be a symphony of light and shadow.

Alone with the company of a few sauntering stray cats and my camera, I sat and waited for the show.Then it happened – these four novice monks appeared as specks at the end of the massively long corridor and slowly made their way in silence through the light toward me.

This is that shot.

Aaron Hooper is a freelance photographer long known for his other identity as the Chef/Owner of Joe’s Downstairs Restaurant in Phuket. He is now refocused on his passion of writing, photography and travel. You can see more of his portfolio here.

— Aaron Hooper