Been years since I last write this blog. I even almost forgotten the password! No longer know what to say or write, really. Wasn’t sure I have something useful to share. But maybe I do now. Let’s see..
Late last year, I was asked to join some colleagues in my old work place, as they are setting up a photo school. Some of the high places people in that work place weren’t so sure about the idea, and even doubted them. Challenged to make it happen, they somehow ended up in asking if I wanted to join them. Thankfully, we weren’t really caught up in the spirit of showing to that high places people that we can do it and prove them wrong. Proving people wrong has been and always be the worst motivation in doing something good. So instead, we were so sure about the idea from the get go, we didn’t care what others think and we just do it like Nike said we should.
As we were having our first meeting, ideas rushed in my head, and just a week later, I managed to made 3 modules for basic photography that we are now been using for our 3 batch classes.
Teaching wasn’t new for me, but to know that I am also shaping a group of people’s mind to understand what I do, loving it as much as I do, and actually drive them to be better than I do, in 5 meetings time, was a nerve wrecking. But, I actually love it!
I call the participants in my photo class, my children. And they call me (somehow willingly), Kanjeng Ratu, means Your Highness Queen. pfffttt.. my sassiness partly caused that.
The fact that I actually turned out learning more from them, is what thrills me. And that learning curve in this new chapter of my career in photography is what I believed, worth to share.
Okay, maybe I’ll just use I, instead of plural We. Who am I, ranting about something and speak for many?
I was visiting an office where I used to be an intern. Met a photographer friend who was drowning in his own thought and suddenly asked me, “Why are we doing this? What for?”.
He’s working for a photo agency that requires him to either shoot; edit and publish photos of the day on the web for clients; and even teach students in the school also run by the agency. I sat with him for a while, trying to understand his questions. “What difference have we made with our work?” he asked again. “Have we even make any difference at all?” again he asked. “I used to believed we’re doing this to make a change, but now?” he again, asked. Those are rhetoric questions. There’ll be no single answer that can suffice him, I get that. But as someone who still (want to) believe that one should have faith in whatever he or she do, I was morally can’t just let myself easily agreed to his “why bother”-ness.
I told him that I was in a forum once, where one international famous photojournalist once said, “I no longer believe that my work can actually change the world, BUT I KNOW that the works (his) still take parts in the process of it. Changing the world”. I think that is the most reasonable answer available.
Photojournalists, in my opinion, (should) have some creative sense. We don’t need to present only beautiful things in the world, because that would be a total lie. But we do need to creatively engage our audience, drawn them to the work, so that they can have a say on it. So they can be moved. And in the end, they can be part in changing the world. But on the downsides, every people that involve in creative field, would always end up doubting themselves and their own works. It’s bad enough that photojournalists often have no confidence in presenting their work to the world as if they not (ever) good enough, whats worse would be, that every now and then they have to doubt themselves on whether or not their work even matter.
I recently propose a story to a magazine. Big hot shot magazine. The editor said he loves it, he thinks it was a great set of photos and story, but too bad it doesn’t cut out for the magazine. He suggested me to aim higher and propose it to other international publication. So I send the emails to other editors. But they still stood me up.
I liked that story very much. I have something for others to see, know and understand from my perspective, while still report it as it is. I also think it is somewhat important, and interesting. But seems like not everyone share the same idea. Am I bitching about it, right now? Not really. I’m just upset. I worked hard for a week, convincing strangers to let me into their homes, and their friends and families, walked for miles away to cut the expensive taxi fees for this story. And yet I can’t publish it because I can’t find a media who wants it. Sheryl Crow sang, first cut is the deepest. But The Passenger was right, that the rest still flipping hurt.
So here I am, listing more medias who might want the story, because though I often raised in my head, the same questions as my photographer friend, but I STILL HAVE FAITH IN WHAT I DO. I’m not gonna give up. I have more stories to show and tell, and I won’t give up on them either. Let others find me pathetic, I know sometimes I feel that way. But having faith in what we do, is SOMETHING, right? … Right?
Everyday, I count my blessings. Tried. Never worked. They’re just too much.
In between irritations for being stood up on works that being promised, nor rejections when proposing works, photography continues to give me jolts and keep my heart beeps.
But there are times when my heart skips a beat,
Mba Eka ini, Nickmatulhuda kan? Kemana aja mba? Kok sekarang fotonya udah jarang keliatan? Udah ngga di Tempo yah?
Some guy in random events or occasions that just pop up infront of me and claimed to missed my by-line appear in my previous media, Tempo. Yes sir.. I miss that too. Hope I can hide my blush knowing that someone out there do recognize my works. Or at least my name.
Hi, we came across your website and was wondering if you want to share some of your work to our audience?
My heart stops right there. Wondering if that means another re-publication that will get me paid or receive a small notes of thank you instead.
Eka, tanggal 12 jangan lupa yah.. Motretin acara gue.
Ah.. Nothing more exciting than doing less frustrating work, like shooting an event of a bunch of camera frenzy ladies. Easy money. Love it!
Am doing a story on labour, did you shoot last week’s protest?
My God! Is that why God set me up a meeting with a friend in a mal, and made me took pictures of that labour protest while I wait up for him to arrive? Subhanallah.. I HAPPENS to have the picture that fits perfect for her story!
Hey girl, I got a job for you, to illustrate my story about Jakarta..
I told you people.. be organized. Your pictures are your babies. Only with a stack of stock photos, I can take this job without too much hassle.
Googled my name and found these from previous work opportunities,
Am doing some stories, can you shoot for me?
The art director likes your work and would love it if you were responsible of taking the photos.
I work by references, most of the times, and I try hard to maintain that good cooperation with someone who trusts me. And I cant be enough grateful for being surrounded by people with such fair and great working environment. Thanks guys.. Thank you so much.
The photos are wonderful! 🙂 Thank you! I’lll keep you posted with our final selection once we start the page layout. You can send me your bill directly.
Ah… Payment.. New sets of numbers in my bank account… Ah.. how I love thee.
I also enjoyed the interview and thank you for the pictures!! Am not really a camera face, but I really love this picture!
Receiving a thank you from the subject of your last shoot, was also breezing. You can tell when they actually mean it and show respect for the work, or just being polite in between their crazy schedule.
Whoops! reminds me, I still have a list of people whom I’ve promised to have their pictures send by email.
This skips a beat thing can be really addictive!
Can you tell how productive you’ve been for some period of time?
How d’you do it? By always arrive on time at work? By how much money you made?
Well, as a freelancer, I can tell how I’ve been productive, or in this case, NOT productive for a month-for example-, when I realize I have watched the same replay of X-Factor Indonesia auditions more than 3 times. And I did. (sighed).
Two weekends ago, am proud to say that I have been a productive young lady. (my age, not your concern, really..). Well, at least, I didnt watch tv for two days straight. Because I was in Garut, West Java.
Tantyo Bangun, a very well respected photographer in Indonesia (and other countries, of course..), asked me to join his team in mentoring some group of high school students to do photo hunt as a series of workshop that he established with a group of journos in Garut, and sponsored by Chevron. I heard this GarutPedia workshop has been on since December. And I get to be part of it with Dian (GarutPedia caretaker), Oom Toto and of course, Oom Tantyo. They’re in Oom-oom age anyway.
We off on early start for surveying the route we’re gonna do the next day, and I cant help but realized how organized Tantyo Bangun is. He has an idea in his head, and he sure know how he wants it to be done. I felt.. small.
Some 20s students and Chevron employees or family members, took part in this photo hunt. (sounds like boar hunt or deer hunt, but its totally different, because we weren’t hunting photos with spears nor in a game of spotting differences from 2 simillar photos! We were out hunt some subjects to be photographed. How exactly do you say it in english?) And I get to be the shepherd for 4 lost sheep with cameras. Oom Toto was there to make sure we didnt trip and fell off the cliff.
Too bad, one of my sheep (a student in our team) innocently just forgot to tell us during briefing, that he didnt bring cameras with him. (Grrrrhh…) So I ended up borrowing mine, and he left me “naked” without camera and made me felt so uncool. How can a mentor in a photography team, not bring a single camera? I mean, how can I brag about my own shoot? hehe.. Well.. maybe it was for the best anyway, since later on I found out, that they actually make wonderful pictures in less than two hours! If I turned out unable to make photos as good, am in deep trouble. My credibility is at stake.
So, those wonderful sheep (why sheep? because Garut is famour for sheep) — I mean, workshop participants, in my team, were some of the greatest ones!! Ho ho.. Am sooo happy.. Those four wonderful young photographers, made pix that selected as some of the best pix of the day. All of them! Ha! And two of which got small gifts for their excellent work, and one of those two, was the winner for the best picture on that workshop! Yeay.. Their fingers on the shutter, I was just there as their shepherd. 🙂
Have a look at here : http://garutpedia.com/post/42745718140/finalis-workshop-foto-lapangan-darajat-01 and see that pretty valentine romance on top? One of my team did that! His name is Meldani.
And today, as I watched another replay of X-Factor, a thought crossed my tiny lazy brain. What will happen with the winners of X Factor? Or those who win on that workshop? Does being part of it do any good to them? I honestly dont know.
Tantyo told me that he saw huuuggghh progress in the way those kids take pictures. Compared to the early days of the workshop, now, they tend to be more focused on what exactly they want to show through their pictures. And I can sense of proudness in his voice. I was proud just to have them for a day, and I can imagine how he felt for having a team that try to nurture them for months. But of course, the kids’ progress are their own truly. It’s their effort, and Tantyo or anybody else in that team, just there to help.
No one can tell, if X-Factor winner one day gonna be a great musician, or just a one time thing. We wont know today, if Meldani gonna win a world press photo in years to come. I mean, who knows? But does these so called workshops do any good? Am sure they do.
I was also in a photo workshop, and how I felt can totally different from how other participants felt about it. Some actually think it was useless, because it doesnt ‘give’ them anything. Am sure they didnt mean it though.
In my perspective, such workshop can give you the chance to meet some extraordinary people. Whom you probably never knew you’d meet in person! If I were in X Factor, I would hug Anggun just to sniff her, or since I was in the Angkor Workshop, I get to see the editor who rejected my photos via email, but turned out asked me to join his (was) photo agency once he saw my pictures right in front of him. So magic things happen! But your own kind of magical moments.
Workshops give you shortcuts. To where and will you use it? You decide.
It was the second “Kumpul Buku” event. But it was way packed than before. Most of the people who came, were those who love books or excited to see books with lots of photos in it. But the reason why it was so packed, i believe it wasnt just for the books. It was the reason why they had the Book Gathering that day. Pay a tribute to the late Julian Sihombing. Who also co-initiated “Kumpul Buku” from the beginning.
I was at his funeral, two months ago, a day after he passed away on October 14, 2012, during his cancer treatment in Singapore. A little over midnight, I heard. And just like what happen in the Book Gathering, it was also packed with people who grief for him. There’s a saying, that you can see a lot about a person from his friends. And there were many kinds of people there, who think of him as good friend. From the famous ones to the most common people like me, who only knew him a bit. But we somehow felt the connection with him, and adored him for all that he was. Thus we shared the same big loss for his absence.
Julian Sihombing was one of the first photojournalists in Kompas. He started his career in 1988. I was 7, when he was wandering around with his camera. I didnt even know this kind of profession exist. According to his friend, he was strict, he was funny, he was a jackass, he was responsible, he was a bad tempered, he was sweet and kind, he was brilliant, he was simple and humble, in short, he managed to be himself and people accepted it.
I first met him for a short interview for my final paper in college. He was a big guy, who didnt really stand still, or sit still. He talked a bit funny, and fast. His charisma made me nervous, but his attitude and how he respected me was comforting. Amazingly, many years afterwards, he still remember me interviewing him. “It felt like only yesterday, when you interviewed me Eka..”. When I only had like half an hour of Qs and As. Wonder what happen if I work with him for years..
He has many many monumental pictures, as we call it. And they’re showing them as a slideshow at Kumpul Buku, along with interview made by Rony Zakaria. An interview that really reflects himself and his point of view about photojournalism. As I quote,
1998 was the era when Julian made some of his best pictures. He later on also famous for his sport pictures. His instinct was phenomenal. He was famous for his ability to capture the decisive moment. He compiled his best images in a book, “Split Second, Split Moment”. I managed to get it for free, and had him signed it. But of course, he only wrote, “For Eka, with Best Regards”. I saw another book signed by him, belongs to Agus Susanto, one of Julian’s friend and colleague which I heard, Julian very much fond of for his latest photo essay. It was written, “You Dont Remember Days, You Remember Moments.” Indeed. [Bang Julian quoted it from an Italian poet and novelist, Cesare Pavese]
He also mentioned in the interview projected on the wall, “My pictures are simple. I’m happy that my works can be enjoyed by a lot of people, including children, without them needed to think hard to understand, nor I should give long explanation about the work.”
So there I was, by the end of the day, reflects on him and all the stories about him, told by his friends that made us feel closer to the person who no longer here with us. He was remembered, by moments that he captured, by moments when he capture those moments, and by moments that he spent with family and friends. He had a life well spent, though it felt like only a split second. And I bet, his spirit and legacy will live on. I cant help to wonder, will I be good enough to be remembered like that, one day?
Aaaannddd… This is an annual photo exhibit that you simply can not missed!
This is the 3rd year of Indonesia Photojournalist Award, and despite some still argue that the year in the award title is misleading, we still proud of it.
The awarding night was last night, actually.. Friday night, October 5, 2012. And I personally had the best time ever, to see friends and colleagues from every corner of Indonesia. Photojournalists whom I only recognize from their works, finally shakes hands with me last night. Friends I havent met in years, sits down next to me as well. And we all enjoy the music and each other companions, surrounded by some of the greatest photojournalism works of 2011 on the wall.
It was a bliss.
But for you who missed last night’s party, there are some photo discussions that you can be part of, as part of the 2 weeks photo exhibit.
Saturday, October 6th 2012, 4 pm : Sharing and photo discussion with Agung Rajasa, the winner of APFI 2011 Photo of the Year. Find out the story behind the picture that all five judges agreed upon in making it Photo of the Year, simply in a matter of seconds!
Tuesday, October 9th 2012, 6 pm : All about Citizen Journalism, y’all!! Tips in preparing yourself to be a good Citizen Journalist, because you are much closer to the news that happens around you, and not the journalist who needs to fight the traffic to get to where you are, when the story is happening.
Saturday, October 13th 2012, 4 pm : “PASSING” – a pictorial book by Edy Purnomo, one of the most recognized photojournalist in Indonesia. He will launch it here, and you get the chance to ask him all about the book and his works!
Thursday, October 18th 2012, 6 pm : Those cool and great photojournalists who are behind the SERIBUKATA.com will give you some insights about “How Inclusive Photography Work, Develops Appreciation of Future Photojournalism”. It’s gonna be a serious photo discussion, but also can open your mind to a bigger problem that Photojournalism world is struggling with, nowadays. You just need to be there and speak out your ideas!
And not just that.. You can also buy the book!
Gosh.. You’d loooovveee the book!!
Not only those juicy pictures that have won the award, but the book itself is also a real collectible items. This year is printed on a much nicer paper, beautifully edit, carefully designed, and you just need to pay 100.000 IDR, to get a copy of the book.
Dont forget to ask for previous edition, because they are truly a collectible items, and it selling fast! I managed to help in selling 30 copies of the book, only in an hour!
So, if you love photography, you’re a big fan of photojournalism works, you want to get to know the photojournalist behind those works, or you simply love the crowd, do come!!
Dont forget, Kuningan City, Jakarta, 5-21 October 2012, Photo exhibit and more about Anugerah Pewarta Foto Indonesia 2011.
See you there!!
By the way, me and some colleagues just talked about APFI last night, after the opening ceremony.. We proudly believe that only Indonesia, from other South East Asia countries, that has this kind of awarding. Although it has many sponsors, this Photojournalism Award stands by itself. Self organized by (extremely busy) photojournalists in between their (extremely busy) work schedule.
It’s an award, that refers to World Press Photo kinds of awarding, yet still trying to find its own color. We got lots to learn, but at least we’ve bravely start it.
I could not be more proud to my friends who put their hard works, their ideas, and their time to make all this happen. And hopefully, will continue to happen in many years to come.
Viva Pewarta Foto Indonesia! Bravo Indonesian Photojournalist!
Your best investment is your friends.. And the best thing to invest on them is by being sincere and never treat them like investment.
If you met my friends, most would describe me as crazy chick. Absurd, impulsive and most of the times, weird and dont make sense.
But they also know that I take my profession seriously. Everything I do when it comes to journalism works, I do it with full responsibility, and though am playful, I dont play around when someone had trusted me in working with them.
This time, it is Okapi. A French magazine for kids. Well.. Ado! not kids.. 🙂
They wanted to make a story about palm oil, and its effect to the people of Dayak in Kalimantan. And a wonderful French friend of mine linked them to me.
Long story short, I was paired with another wonderful French lady, and we had a full week of surprises with the “modern” Dayak people in remote places of Pontianak.
The story of how palm oil plantation have been destroying the lives of Dayak people, just break my heart. A village is abandon because it is surrounded by hectares of palm oil plantation own by at least 3 different companies. The remaining villagers need to survive with what is left. No more fish in the rivers, because the fertilizers from the plantation had been killing them. Clean water is scarce.
That is just one sad story we found, among many eye opener truths, that will make you questioning yourself as human, how greedy can you really be?
But presenting them to teenagers, are not as simple as writing it down in national paper or magazine as full investigative report. For those whose French is as poor as me, I hope the pictures tell some sort of story as well..
Published on September issue, in France, as a 12 pages report, co funded by CCFD, a Catholic Committee Against Hunger and for Development.