Maybe it was the dense population of people, or the resulting lack of wide open spaces, but it wasn’t too long after moving to Indonesia that I started to realize my interest in photography wasn’t landscapes. Living in a rural village on Java, I started creating pictures that told the story of the culture I was immersed in, rather ones that sought to document it. Pictures that could stand on their own, but together created a visual story. Eventually, I realized the stories I was gravitating towards, but many times could not because of my primary job, were not ones of simply culture, but of people and opportunities to improve their lives.
It’s can quite easy to document pain and suffering in situations where aid is needed, where standards are below that of what you might have lived your own life in. After becoming intimately close with two different communities during my time in Indonesia, despite being culturally worlds apart with both, I learned to see the humanistic side to both. It made it difficult to focus on suffering or a quality of life that was less than my own. While pictures of those things might help promote a broader awareness, they alienate people too. Instead, the stories I’m trying to tell are of the people who are experiencing the suffering, or the quality of life we might easily recognize as less than our own. They might be people who live in shanty homes, defecate in rivers, collect trash, work as prostitutes, or lack running water. But, once we start to see ourselves in them, the similarities, whether it be dreams we have or the sneakers we put on every morning, hopefully we’ll be more willing to help them. Hopefully, once we can see ourselves in their shoes, figuratively or literally, we’ll see the needs as if they were our own.
That all being said, creating stories that seek to achieve something like that take time. If I’ve learned anything from living in Indonesia, it’s that progress is slow Moreover, getting to know people, to the point where smiles are natural, and they’re relaxed in the presence of my camera, takes a lot of patience. So, I’m going to be honest with you, this whole part might look empty for a little while. But I’m working on it. Working on creating content that’s complete enough to tell the whole story, one about people, need, success, and hope for the future, and to give you an intimate glimpse into it. Content that’s going to make you see what I see. So relax, if I can do it, you can do it. We can all relax a bit. Go slow to go fast, we’ll all get there eventually.