Tag Archives: Indonesia

Balinese legong…

Conventional though the pictures may be, I just couldn’t resist posting this slide show of Balinese Legong dancers performing in Ubud. Their grace and beauty was incomparable…

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Bali postcards: Part 3

A few more off-beat and personal observations from Bali (and Lombok).

Even as the years pass some mind-altering fungii never seem to go out of fashion © Rob Walls 2010

Mountain bike touring through the rice paddies © Rob Walls 2011

Duck herding near Klunkung © Rob Walls 2011

Family on way to temple ceremony, Ubud © Rob Walls 2010

Indonesian cigarette advertising. No comment. © Rob Walls 2011

Child at a temple, Jalan Hanoman, Ubud © Rob Walls 2011

My daughter, Cassie, on mountain bike tour © Rob Walls 2011

Beach, Padang Bai © Rob Walls 2011

Lombok fashion © Rob Walls 2011

Pertamina gas station attendants © Rob Walls 2011

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More Bali postcards…

Temple festival, Padang Bai, East Bali © Rob Walls 2011

Padang Bai, East Bali © Rob Walls 2011

Near Klungkung, East Bali © Rob Walls 2011

Temple festival, Padang Bai © Rob Walls 2011

Traffic jam in Central Ubud © Rob Walls 2011

Monkey forest, Ubud © Rob Walls 2011

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A few postcards from Bali

McDonalds, Sanur © Rob Walls 2011

Starbucks, Ubud © Rob Walls 2011

Balinese fast food © Rob Walls 2011

More Balinese fast food, Sanur © Rob Walls 2011

A society that thinks painting lots flowers on a garbage truck has to have something going for it. Ubud © Rob Walls 2011

Especially one that can convince tourists to pay money to have their fee nibbled by fish. © Rob Walls 2011

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Catching up with an old friend…

In Bali last month, I took the time to re-connect with an old friend. I met Nyoman Purpa, an art dealer in Ubud in 1977 and would visit him again and again, whenever I returned. It had been 25 years since I was last in Indonesia and taking a trip there with my daughter during the school holidays, I decided to seek him out. This is Purpa as I knew him in 1977; a laid-back, easy-going seller of paintings, with a few motorbikes for hire, as a sideline:

Nyoman Purpa in his art gallery, Circa 1977. © Rob Walls

Though Ubud had changed almost beyond, recognition, Purpa was not hard to find. His gallery which was once set amongst rice paddies is now part of some of the most expensive commercial real estate in Bali.

He was still the same, smiling, optimistic Purpa of old, though now comparatively wealthy. A dedicated family man, he had helped set up his twin daughters with their own fashion and jewellery business. His son, is a well know rock musician, appearing regularly on Indonesian television.

After filling in the years over a few Bintang beers, we decided to update his image with a new portrait:

Nyoman Purpa with ever-present cigarette, in his gallery, February 2, 2011 © Rob Walls

The years have been kind to my old friend.

Purpa and me. Photo © Cassandra Walls 2011

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Industrial self-portrait

Industrial self-portrait with two Nikon FE2s and a personalised hard hat from Tom's Sliver in Jogjakarta, Indonesia.

Many years ago, on assignment in Java for Garuda Indonesian Airways, I went to photograph silversmiths at Tom’s Silver in Jogjakarta. I saw a craftsman applying his skills to an aluminum hard hat. It seems that oil-rig workers commissioned them and, amongst others, Tom”s Silver had made them for a couple of US Presidents and at least one Pope.

I just had to have one!

After paying my $US50, spelling out my name in pencil on the back of an envelope, specifying that the design should include a Nikon and some Australian elements, I left the silversmiths to do their work. A month later the hard-hat arrived in the mail. It was fantastic! An incredible photographic artefact.

There were Australian plants, a kangaroo and an emu, flowers and animals embossed all over the hat and a map of the continent on the back, in the most flamboyant array imagineable. Of course, I only ever gathered up the nerve to wear it to parties and then only when drunk. Too Village People!

But then one day looking at it on a shelf in the studio, I came up with this promotional still life with two Nikons, I called, Industrial Self-portrait….

For the amusement of my friends here’s a shot of me modelling my chapeau:

Helmet2

What every well-dressed industrial photographer should wear...

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This one perfect day…

Javanese dancer, Jogjakarta, Indonesia

Javanese dancer, Jogjakarta, Indonesia

Every once in a while an assignment comes along where all the pieces fall into place. I’m not talking about only the technical aspects, but also the amount of choice and control offered by a client so that you can really deliver. Almost all assignments fall short in one area or another. Either the deadline is too tight, or the client interferes, or the weather and light don’t give of their best. Of course the being professional is about delivering the goods despite the problems that arise.  But once in a while there comes along a job where everything is just perfect. This was such an assignment.

About 30 years ago, I did a six week tour for an airline, that took me practicallt the length and breadth of  Indonesia. The purpose of the assignment  was to gather pictures for a brochure and poster campaign. It was a gruelling, mind-numbing schedule, with just two half days off in 45 days. The fee was OK, but not great. The budget had been tight and the competition for an assignment that would show you most of Indonesia was fierce. Still with one or two minor meltdowns I survived the ordeal, and delivered my pictures to the agency. Out of it came a posters campaign that included this portrait of a traditional Javanese dancer at the Dance Academy in Jogjakarta.

The initial poster campaign was so successful that the agency came back and asked me if I would shoot two more posters. From their enthusiasm and the fact that the posters were prominently displayed on the agency wall when I went there to discuss the brief and the fee, I realised I was now in a relatively strong bargaining position. The result was I was able to negotiate a fee for two or three days work in Java that was almost as high as the fee for the original assignment.

Part of the brief was to shoot a fashion shot that would convey elegance in a uniquely Indonesian way. The ad agency gave me complete control; choice of garment, approval of model and choice of location.

On arriving in Jakarta I met with Indonesia’s top batik artist and designer, Iwan Tirta. From his range we selected an extravagantly dramatic, silk, batik evening dress and we decided to complement it with some traditional style gold jewellery. We interviewed models and I chose a very tall, elegant Javanese beauty, who set off the garment to perfection.

When it came to location, I wanted something recognisably Javanese but neutral in tone. Something monumental but something that would not overpower the subject. From my previous assignment, I remembered the 9th century Hindu temple at Prambanan just outside Jogjakarta. It was perfect.  The Indonesian tourism people organising my trip, protested that it might be easier to shoot in Jakarta, rather than flying all the way to Jogja. But by now I had got the star bit between my teeth and I insisted that no other location would do. This of course was not entirely true, there were monuments and temples all over the place… but photographers don’t often get to make power plays and I was determined to play this one to the hilt. With true Javanese courtesy, they acquiesced.

A very early flight to Jogjakarta;  a preliminary shoot at the temple to establish location, orientation and timing of the afternoon light; a leisurely lunch at one of my favourite Jogja restaurants and then back to the location around 4pm. I had calculated that by then the sun would be low, warm and in the direction I needed.

I set up my camera and tripod with the 300mm Nikkor 2.8, on top of a small temple nearby.  Earlier that morning I had visualised that I could set up, get my shots and get away with a minimum of fuss. What I hadn’t counted on was an afternoon influx of tourist coaches and next thing I knew, here I having to perform like a showman, directing a shoot in front of an audience of about 350 tourists and a platoon or two of young Indonesian military recruits, at my back. Most of the tourists were shooting away like made over my shoulder. My discreet little fashion shoot in the middle of Java had wandered into Cecil B. De Mille territory. Despite the distractions, the light did what I wanted, the pieces fell into place and an hour later, I was able to wrap the shoot, content that I had got at least as much as I had bargained for.

Back in Australia, both the ad agency and the airline were very happy with the results; but two little incidents from this assignment stick in my mind. While I was shooting, a bunch of French tourists asked what I was doing. It was such delicious fun to explain to them the copy line I was illustrating (see poster 2). Just as I was about to finish shooting, an English tourist walking hand-in-hand with her four year old daughter wandered into my shot. The little girl did a double take. She gasped aloud when she saw the model. “Look Mummy! A real princess!”  It’s nice to think that I had accidentally fulfilled the fantasies of a child. She probably has children of her own now. I wonder if she ever tells them of the day she saw a Javanese princess.

Fashion shoot, Prambanan, Java

Fashion shoot, Prambanan, Java

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