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Faith in What We Do

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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?

Tan Thach (jumping) learns Parkour solely from youtube, and practice every morning in parks of Hanoi, Vietnam, because he has a dream to be an actor with specialty of Parkour acrobatic moves, even though his family and society gave him a frowned upon.

Tan Thach (jumping) learns Parkour solely from youtube, and practice every morning in parks of Hanoi, Vietnam, because he has a dream to be an actor with specialty of Parkour acrobatic moves, even though his family and society gave him a frowned upon.


Written by nickmatulhuda

July 31, 2014 at 8:50 pm

My Heart Skips a Beat

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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,


Shooting for Badzine, on a Badminton Superseries in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.


Shooting for Greenpeace on Citarum story in West Java, Indonesia.

people daily

Sentani Lake Festival pic published via Xinhua.

Am doing some stories, can you shoot for me?


Felt cool to have my picture on a story in a language I barely understand. *dumbface*

It's getting harder for me to get the opportunity of shooting spot news and being published! SO everytime I do, I felt good to be part of history.

It’s getting harder for me to get the opportunity of shooting spot news and being published! SO everytime I do, I felt good to be part of history.

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!

Written by nickmatulhuda

February 22, 2013 at 10:07 am

New Post on the Website

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From the beginning I tried to build my own website, I’ve been reading tons of references on how to make the website works. What’s a permalink, SEO, etc.

Amongst other important things, I need to carefully think the display, either the matter of the materials being displayed or how to display them to make sure it looks professional. Making sure that the viewers can see my niche.

Argh! So troublesome. But all worth it. Some times, my website connects me to clients or magazines who wants to display my works. Many times, the website gives me some sort of proof of existence.

But while I’ve been too careful on posting stories, I neglect another factor of being a keen photojournalist, that is consistency in working as one. It’s not like am lazy or havent done any stories in a while.. I just — dont put them on the web…

Sad.. Because my first purpose in building a website was to make sure I have a place to display my works. Works which I feel need to be shown and told to many, even when it doesnt make the cut for magazines or some prestigious awards and grants. Works that may not always touch your feelings and make you want to break down and cry to see that side of life, but instead, still can be informative about other parts of the world you’ve never seen.

I’m a photojournalist, I documents stories in life through pix and words. And I’ll show you some, on my very own website. 🙂

Written by nickmatulhuda

August 6, 2012 at 9:14 pm

It Was a Trip I Dont Ever Want to Come Back to

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June 24th ; 9 am : Start packing. 24 hours to the main event. Clothes, check. Shampoo and stuffs, check. Dont need make up this time. Nor heels.

June 24th ; 7 pm : I’ve been here before last week. But this time, I can walk as I enter the empty room.

June 10th ; 2 am : Fuck! What did I eat? Shit.. I think I just drank coffee. Was it espresso in that cappuccino? I should just order ice tea. Damn it!

Keep in mind, Eka.. “Espresso is a small demitasse cup of strong coffee produced on a machine designed just for that purpose. And Cappuccino actually starts out with one espresso brewed in a larger cup, then milk, which is steamed into a thick froth, is poured on top of the espresso. Chocolate is sprinkled on top to give it a finishing touch. So yes.. there was espresso inside that glass of so called frozen cappucino!!” -sighed

June 10th ; 5 am : I’ve been in this situation before. Puke right outside that clinic. Am so embarrassed. I’ve swore I’d never experience this ever again. Yet am here. Like I did couple of years back.

June 10th ; 7 am : The pain killer shot didnt help. I still vomiting like crazy. I cant even swallow a drop of water without throwing it out all over again.

June 10th ; 8 am : I still have my conscience. Yet I couldnt drag my feet to the car. My sisters on my left and right tried to carry me in to the back seat.

June 10th ; 8.15 am : “Tell me if it feels hurt”.. I was so hysterically in pain, that I told the doctor, I felt painful in every surface of my tummy. They gave me another shot. It supposed to ease the pain. It didnt. I was vomiting again and I start crying.

June 10th ; 9.30 am : “You might have stones in your kidney. We gonna do the ultrasound later, okay?”

June 10th ; 10 am : They take me out of the Emergency Room and put me to bed. I recalled another pain killer before I reached my new 4 beds- room. Still not working.

June 10th ; sometime in the afternoon : After another shot of pain killer, I can finally asleep. They did an ultrasound and found something that might be the actual cause of the kidney stone. I reminded the doctor that I was there most likely because I have chronic gastritis. But hey.. Am not the doctor here. Just dont give me a sign that I have other illness that you still cant be sure about, by sending me to an Obsgyn.. -sighed

June 10th ; dinner time : My first dinner after about 24 hours of — digestion disaster. This time, it didnt came out from where it came in. Eww..

June 11th ; 10.00 am : They told me to hold my pee, before I see this nice doctor who do another ultrasound just to let me know that we need to do a surgery.

I was diagnosed for having myoma in the wall of my uterus. She said, its more than 9 cm in diameter, so surgery is the only way. That myoma may also caused the potential stones in my kidney, which is the least I should worry about, right now. This benign that grows inside me needs to be removed immediately. Luckily, I dont have to have a hysterectomy, where all parts of my uterus should be removed. I only need to do laparoscopic myomectomy, and that one day I can still have babies, because I get to keep the baby room inside of me. I was amazingly calm. I always felt that somethings wrong inside of me, I just dont know what that is. Now I know. “Can I stay awake during the surgery?” The doctor smiled, and said, “Yes, you can even pick a song!”

June 25th ; 9.00 am : I was actually thinking of bringing my camera. But I gave it to my mother eventually. I’ve been in and out of the operating room for shooting cataract surgery in Papua, thus the needles and all the masks dont really look scary to me. Also, I’ve actually been dying to be in the operating room handled by an Obsgyn. But certainly not like this.

June 25th ; 9.30 am : 30 minutes passed the operation schedule. They started to take me in. I waved my mom goodbye. Still thinking, should I bring a camera? Maybe my G-9?

My irony with maternity room is that I’ve been in and out of maternity wards for years to shoot mothers and babies, mothers in labors, baby born, and all the emotion. Now am in a maternity room, yet without a baby to begin with. And while I’ve been begging to shoot a c-section couple of times times, and without any approvals, I get to do a sort of c-section on me!! Again.. without a baby inside me to begin with. I mean, how sad is that?

I got out of the hospital, on Thursday, June 28th afternoon. It was quite a trip. And now am in recovery state. Took a while to actually sit down and walk. But those nice nurses think my recovery is quite fast. Sure.. I dont need to carry any baby or think about how to breastfeed as I endure this pain. I am very very lucky. I cant imagine the pain, an actual mother should gone through after a c-section and still have to take care of a baby or more. I dont have anything to whine about. Am in a better condition than them.

But still.. I hope this trip that filled with irony, wont be something I’d experience again in the future. Now I know what a surgery like. Hey, I even have a scar for a memento! Maybe I should make a tattoo on that scar.. (and leave with another infection, Ms. Smartypants..)

During 2,5 hours of surgery, they found two myomas, which none was actually 9 cm in diameter. Guess you cant always trust that shadow imagery in ultrasounds. The other myoma was very small, but am glad they found that little monster and take it out. Another surprise was, they also need to remove my appendix. Man.. Talking about damage here.. Am actually had been doing some serious ones in my body!!

Anyhow.. am so lucky. I hope I wont ever go back to this kinds of trip ever again. Where am in my lowest point as human. Disgusting, helpless and troublesome. Am lucky that my family are right there where I need them most. And my dear friends came to make sure that I can actually be helpless and vulnerable for once. Seriously.. Thank you..

My loving frequent visitors. Couldnt ask for a better companion.

PS : Penyebab utama dari mioma uteri masih belum bisa diketahui. Dan saya bukan dokter. Tapi jika ada teman yang perlu sharing tentang penyakit ini, bisa menghubungi saya. Salah satu RS yang bisa dikatakan paling murah untuk operasi jenis ini adalah RS Medika Permata Hijau, dan saya ditangani oleh Dr. Yasmina dan teamnya yang baik hati dan tidak sombong. 🙂 Tapi jangan berharap perlakuan hotel bintang 3, apalagi bintang 5 ya, kalau mau operasi yang murmer. hehe.. Yang penting kondisi tubuh harus fit sebelum operasi, karena amit-amit kalau anda sedang flu atau batuk. Post-op nya itu loooh.. ngebet banget di bekas jahitannya kalau anda sampai bersin atau batuk.

Written by nickmatulhuda

July 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Posted in about her

The Joy in Meeting Strangers

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Got caught up in weird kinds of things so called work lately. I think I’ve helplessly come to the point of realizing, by able to do a little bit of everything, here and there, the only time I could really rest is when I actually die. ;p

I never not enjoy stuffs that I do. Taking pix, research, writes, marketing, build network for my upcoming business, or whatever… Though not all of them instantly give me money, and that some people think of that as not a smart thing to do, I cant resist to the idea that some things would be better if am the one doing it. I guess.. I have a problem in delegating work. Not that I dont think others can do it, just that I dont know how to ask someone to do stuffs running around inside my head.

Youuuu got it! This is the I-section. Where I would blabbering about God Knows What. hehe..

Whenever I get to this point of my life, God will arrange some exciting stuffs to take a break from me. That would be.. Meeting strangers! And this time, I met a wonderful lady in a public transport, who happens to reflect all of my biggest fears in life.

Mbah RR Sri Sulastri.. alias Ibu Ali. eh?!???!!

An almost 80 years old woman, traveled almost 13 km that day by public transport, which can also means doubled the original length of distance. With her wooden stick as a companion, she kept on glancing smiles at me, and ask wether the food from the street vendor i was eating, was delicious. Haha.. I gave her one, which was not really easy for her to chew nor swallow. Ah.. She’s so full of life, yet .. old. Well, aging is not a sin. But it’s one thing I scared the most. Growing old. Afraid that I would be powerless and need all the help I can get. And worse, if I get older and refuse to get help at such age by thinking I still have the power to do just about anything. [whatever Eka.. duh]

So I sat there, in front of her, for 45 minutes and just listen to what she likes to say, or stuffs that she answer from all my silly questions.

Maybe one day, I’ll meet a stranger who’s 50 years younger than me in a futuristic public transport. Cant wait to know what I’d think by then.

Written by nickmatulhuda

May 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Inspiring Brave Lady

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Grief forced you to absorbs wisdom from the situation that keeps your tears running. It’s the kind of grief that made you reflects instead of cutting your arm. And my sorrow yesterday, makes me learn that how you die is actually matters. So look where you’re going and what you’ll be doing, Eka..

This is a tribute to a brave lady who took care of my mother since she’s still 8 years old. We called her Emak, or Mother, because she’s very much like a mother for everyone who knew her.

Her name is Siti Salamah. She’s actually my aunt from my mother’s side. But my mother called her Emak, referred her as a mother. Because my mother grew up under her care. She’s a kind, patient, loving lady who taught me how to be brave just by seeing her embracing her challenging life as a single mother of five (plus my mother – so that makes it six), and a grandmother of (atleast) fifteen grandchildren!

She never complained of being tired to do all the work, but there has come the time for her to rest, on December 4th, 2011 – or 8th of Muharram, 1433 Hijriah. Her long holiday took her away from all of us, until the date being set for all of us to meet up again. By the time it finally comes, I hope she still remembers me and gives me the warm hugs she never forgets to give me in greetings and goodbyes.

It was a beautiful sunny Sunday morning. No signs of how dark the skies would be by the end of the day. It was family time, and for giving her our last respect, we were united once again as family.

Emak was the portrait of a feminist that I adore. And I dont adore just any feminist, for most of those who called themselves feminists, are nothing but emasculated women. She’s different. She was a lady with all her feminine grace. A dutiful wife and mother, who devoted her life for her family, and doing it with the utmost sincerity. She was also a woman who encouraged other women to fulfill their task as a complete woman, who plays a big role in family, in society and no doubt, in religion. Despite all the things that made her life unperfect, she bravely took the responsibility to make the most of any situation in her family, and never regret anything or even for a little while, asking why those things happened to her. She took all the burden, but never called them burdens, for she believe ;

On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns. ( Pray: )  “Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us; Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Protector; help us against those who stand against Faith”. (Q.S Al Baqarah : 286)

This respectful lady who respect others, was appointed to lead a prayer in a congregation of about 30 people in that one Sunday morning. She was among her friends and people who respect her. And it was not the first time for her to lead prayers. After the jama’ah (congregation) read Al Fatihah, the opening surah of the Holy Quran, she’s about the lead another Quran recitation of surah Yaasin. Just as she read the word Yaa.. and not yet complete the whole short verse, she collapsed.

I can sensed the whole room who bathe her and came for final respect, were envy her. She’s obviously in the state of Husnul Khotimah, a beautiful end of life. How can she not? Her last word was Al Quran. Her last company was the congregation who continue to say every beautiful name of Allah. And even if some said that she died over heart attack, there were no bluish bruises on her lips, fingers or toes. It was as sudden as heart attack, but she didnt look as if she was suffered. For she never in her life, appeared to be a suffered person, despite any burdens on her shoulder.

Everyone who came to see here one last time, men and women, hundreds of them, burst in tears, hold the pain of missing someone so great yet so humble who used to be around. I learn alot to be who I am now, from my father and mother. And my mother learned so much of being a great mother from Emak. She’s one of the source of our family wisdom, just by being a simple woman.

That afternoon, as how all muslims should be buried before the sun sets, we deliver her to her grave in her hometown, about an hour drive from her home. She’s buried close to her late husband, whom I briefly met when I was a kid.

The whole family came from every corner of Jakarta, and even her daughter who lives in Sumatera, managed to flown to Jakarta and say her final goodbye. We came to take her to her last resting place, where she will be left alone.

Muslims believe in four worlds; the womb, this world, the grave and the hereafter (more about it read here and here). And in the world after a muslim died, we will be facing two angels who asked our souls questions ; Who is your Lord? What is your religion? Who is the man who was sent among you? How did you come to know the answers for those questions?

And as we take her there, we know -Insya Allah- Emak will calmly yet bravely answer those questions soon to be asked ; My Lord is Allah.. My religion is Islam.. The man who was sent among us is The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad.. And I came to know these things because I read the book of Allah, the Holy Quran, believed it, and declared it to be true. 

She can only answered with the truth and nothing but the truth. And the truth she spoke will give her free pass to the gate of Heaven, Gardens of Bliss. She was so blessed for having the courage to live this life truthfully, and died in a beautiful way.

I will surely miss the way she hugs me. She always astound whenever she listens to my stories related to my work as a photojournalist. Always told me to be careful, and never missed the chance to remind me to get married soon. Guess that’s one big day that she couldn’t attend. Warm hugs and kisses on both cheeks were never absent everytime we meet and by the time we said goodbye. On the day she died, I cant give her the kiss, because am afraid to feel her cold body. For I only want to remember her warmth. Am gonna miss you, Emak.. This is you, on our last Eid. Love you.


Written by nickmatulhuda

December 5, 2011 at 10:39 am

Enrich Yourself

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Do you have butterflies in your tummy everytime you shoot on assignments? Lucky you! I got bees!! They’re punching and sticking their needles inside me. Got me all nervous. Whether being on site and shoot for the clients need is the right thing to do, either for me or them. Will I let them down? Will they actually get what they paid for? Do I meet their expectations?

Every single negative thoughts filled my head and make it about to explode.

This condition also arise as I begin new projects. Or anything new.

Despite fully understand that I need to improve my photography skill, I know that I need more than just photography if I want to support myself better. And being a freelance always keep me in the state of continue to try finding another great ideas to improve myself, skill wise and financially. I even learn to market myself. Yes, being a freelance forced you to plan better, shoot better, good at marketing and even become a debt collector! vicious but cute kind of debt collector. 😛

So, when it comes to the effort to enrich myself, I choose to add new skill on my cv. I will learn to edit videos. No, am not gonna start by shooting videos, like my other friends who are now turning to multimedia expert, but I choose to learn the rope of video editing instead. I shall keep you updated as soon as I actually start learning from the people who are generous enough to share me their knowledge. For now, I am nothing but a blank piece of paper. An empty box waiting to be filled with exciting new stuffs! Lets see what happen.

The bees has stung me last night, as I cashed out all my money to buy this particular tank! A brand new 15″ Macbook Pro soon installed with final cut pro, out of the generosity of my soon to be tutor, Tim Deagle. An excellent videographer who lives and work here in Jakarta. I dont know if I ever gonna be good at video editing.. But if I never tried, then I would never know, right?

I just bought a(nother) Mac

And as if it’s a good sign, another excellent Dutch videographer, Martin Egter van Wissekerke (I really need to learn how to spell his name right) accompanied me to buy this new toy. Well, am happy enough to have alot of good talented people around me whom I can ask for help in my next video adventure. Bismillah..

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November 15, 2011 at 10:23 pm