Photojournalist Minzayar Oo tells how a shot of Aung Sang Suu Kyi changed his life and led to him winning a unique award

The first of April 2012 was a historic, emotional and profoundly hopeful day in Myanmar’s history. Aung San Suu Kyi, for decades an exile from the country and then a political prisoner under house arrest for 15 years, finally won a byelection vote for a seat in parliament. The following morning many citizens and the world’s media gathered in Yangon at the offices of her party, the National League for Democracy, to hear from or catch a glimpse of the new leader of the opposition.

Many renowned photojournalists were in attendance. Among the throng was a 23-year-old medical student called Minzayar Oo. A hobbyist with a camera – after six years of university, Minzayar Oo was just about to qualify as a doctor – but the news agency Reuters had said it would look at any pictures he took. In the event, he struggled to get close to Aung San Suu Kyi, jostled to the fringes by more experienced practitioners. He took a few snaps, some above his head, using a slow exposure.

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