INDONESIA PHOTOGRAPHY: THE PEOPLE OF THE ISLANDS
My favorite portraits from a 12 day trip through Indonesia with Indonesia Travel on the Trip of Wonders, which included visits to Flores, Jakarta, Bali and Bintan. This was a sponsored trip of Indonesia but all opinions remain my own.
TEXT BY JACKSON GROVES // IMAGES BY JACKSON GROVES
People from Indonesia
The people from Indonesia are easily some of the friendliest places I have ever traveled. The people are so giving, almost always smiling and always willing to help. On a recent trip with Indonesia Travel, after being invited by the Indonesia Tourism Ministry we spent 12 days exploring common tourist spots and some lesser known locations as well. The trip was truly amazing and we were able to meet so many amazing individuals who were happy to spend time with us and show us their life, culture and beautiful smiles.
Indonesia Photography Equipment
Before this trip I had never photographed any portraits but was inspired by the other photographers on the trip and by the unique people we were spending time with. I used my Sony A7ii with a Zeiss 55mm 1.8 and occasionally my Zeiss 16-35mm 4.0. The post-processing was done in Lightroom and that is about all the equipment I needed.
Bogor Botanical Gardens
The first portrait I took on the trip was of a very very wise looking old man at the Bogor Botanical Gardens. He was sat beside a refreshment stand selling keychains made from fallen nuts, of the many impressively large trees that shaded the gardens. I bought a drink and talked to him as best I could about how great his beard was and showed him a photo of how inferior my beard was even in it’s prime. He smiled and seemed to be proud about his majestic white wizard-like beard. I asked him if I could take a photo of him to which, he agreed.
(Boleh Foto: May I photograph you)
Later that day we visited the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, which is the largest mosque in southeast Asia. It was moving to observe people having their prayer time within the imposing walls of the mosque. The ceiling is five floors high and the whole design is very grand. The vast open spaces within the building was very calming and gave me a good time to fall behind the tour group and reflect.
I wandered by myself outside and sat down with a group of three men and began chatting to them about how often they came to the mosque. They said many taxi drivers and workers come to relax, sleep and pray in the calm atmosphere. They were much more excited to take a photo with me but I also enjoyed trying to capture the serenity of the mosque in this portrait.
We arrived in Bintan and took a short boat ride to Pulau Senggarang, a Chinese ‘floating’ fishing village. While it wasn’t actually floating nor an island this was an amazing village. My guide told me that when the Chinese arrived it was easier and cheaper for them to build over the water rather than buying land. Their homes, built on stilts, overhang mud at low tide and appear to be floating at high tide. The villagers have built large nets that look like huge wooden trampoline type figures in the ocean. At low tide they are fully exposed and at high tide they are submerged. As the tide again recedes the fish are trapped in the net and the villagers can collect the fish without ever having to cast a line or a net.
Our time in this village was brief but I was invited to a happy hour on the street by a family who were enjoying some beer and peanuts in the middle of the day. Luckily for the sake of the conversation one of the men lived in Singapore and could speak English. He told me he has nothing to do now that he is retired so he comes from Singapore to visit his brother and family sometimes on the weekends. These are portraits of some of the people I met while walking down one of the narrow paths in the village.
My favorite location of our trip was the beautiful island of Flores. I love the island life so I felt right at home in this diving hub. We spent several days sailing in Labuan Bajo area but first we visited the Melo Village. A village tribe, which still live in the exact same place as their ancestors. The women were making embroidered cloth design and the men performed a traditional welcome.
I was sitting atop a hill and was fast joined by a group of kids wearing soccer t-shirts. We began to talk about soccer and it was fun to just play with the kids who inevitably wanted some spare money but were equally happy to just hang out with me.
One of the oldest women in the village had such a great smile and was happy just to sit and relax despite not being able to talk to each other due to the language barrier. It is in moments like that in which I feel that the world is much safer and friendlier than our perspective sometimes leads us to believe.
A huge thanks to all of the wonderful people I traveled with and who I met while traveling.
CLICK HERE to view my landscape gallery from the same trip in Indonesia