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How You Want To Be Remembered

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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,


“I really fed up talking about Trisakti picture, but I have to admit that am proud with it, for it has become the icon for the fight of reformation in Indonesia. I am proud to be part of the history.”


[giggles] “When Suharto cried, I dont know why everyone were lowering their camera. I thought it was a great moment to capture. So I was the only one who continue to shoot instead. Of course I’ve upset the security force there, and I honestly felt a bit scared. [continue to giggle] I keep on thinking how scared I was at the time, and felt it was really funny as well.”

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?



Written by nickmatulhuda

December 10, 2012 at 9:59 am

One Response

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  1. bang Julian: orang baik; dan akan selalu dikenang demikian. 😉


    December 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm

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