FAQ: What Camera Should I buy?

Posted on 27 January 2020

Ok, this question has become more and more frequent lately–thanks to friends who view me as a camera expert (boo~), and believe my recommendation for to-be their beloved companion.

I get it. For you who has not been really familiar with camera, it is now becoming more confusing to choose one. I was at this point once, only it was Canon vs. Nikon, and choosing the type that suits my needs and budget. Today, many brands offer good cameras with variety of prices and features. Some of the brands has so many types with slight difference, even myself can not catch up to know each every one.

So here’s to the most frequently asked question;

What camera should I buy?

I’m a noob, what would you recommend for good camera?

Which one is a good camera?

I can’t really decide for you if I don’t know you, your needs, and yadda yadda. And here’s to some questions you need to ask yourself for your own guidance before finally choosing one:


Kalijodo Skatepark: A Grasp of Air Within Jakarta’s Concrete Jungle

Posted on 27 January 2020

Like most of Jakarta, people who had previously lived in Kalijodo are trans migrant who came from a far. They stay, they live, they transform from years to years, until it known for the infamous night life–prostitution and gambling area.

Years went on, many has been trying to evict Kalijodo, but never succeed. What is dead may never die–Kalijodo resisted from fall and rise again, only move from one hand to another. Until one day he came, and determined for change. He executed right away, and transform the darkest area in Jakarta, into the rarest place to be found inside the city–public park.

Stepping inside Kalijodo Skatepark is like grasping air from a long time holding breath. There’s no building blocking my sight, or sunlight, for at least few acres. There’s hard shadows in my photographs, an expensive element that has been long gone obstructed by sky-high towers. There’s wind freely breezing, among those who crave to feel the same, before finally going back to their small, claustrophobic house inside the city’s veins.

It was overly crowded. The excitement for this place was mesmerized me. As I suppose, those who live at least 10 kilometers far come to this park to enjoy city’s new entertainment. Kalijodo is now becoming all-in-one package deal to spend the evening: to ride a bike, to skate, to play with re-hyped rollerblade, to sit where you shouldn’t be, or to take selfies. You don’t need to wear nice clothes and shoes. Kalijodo will not judge you by the way you look, or economic status you are in.

Kalijodo is now rise again for once, and for all.


What is dead, may never die.



Shot with T-Max 100, developed by @hipercatlab

Here’s to My Carbon Footprints in 2016

Posted on 27 January 2020

I think we can all agree that 2016 is not one of our favorite year–we lost so many inspiring people this year. Donald Trump has become the US Presidents–which means might be taking few steps back on climate change issues policies, storm of religious issues in Indonesia, suicide bombs everywhere, Syrian war, and even Fidel Castro who has survived 635 assassination attempts could not survive 2016.

For me personally, 2016 is the year of trying.

I had my first job becoming a fixer earlier this year. I assisted Kadir van Lohuizen, a Dutch-photojournalist who has been awarded two World Press Photo, when he was doing his project about waste management in 5 big cities in the world including Jakarta. Working with him for two weeks has been an eye-opening for climate change issue, as I was also read ‘Where Will You Go?’ a zine about human consequences of the rising sea level.

“Where Will You Go?” An exhibition about human consequences of the rising sea level by Kadir van Lohuizen at Erasmus Huis, Jakarta until January 31, 2017.

I tried making my own personal projects; I have 3 issues that I’m working on, but two of them suspended because idea block–and mostly doubts.

I tried applying many photography grants–which I got none, applying several photography workshops–which most of them rejected, until I finally won scholarship spot from Burn Magazine that made me ended up attending Magnum Photos Workshop last October in Bangkok.

Ok I won’t talk any dreamy resolutions for next year, or blabbing my achievements this year (cause I have none, lol), but as a responsible world citizen, I have to count my carbon footprints.

There’s this cool website, MyClimate which have calculator for carbon footprints. You can have raw estimate by answering 7 questions or go details by counting everything (flights, estimate mobility, households, and consumption).

I tried the raw estimate carbon footprints and got 5.290 t CO2, but I guess in some question I should have more to counts, because I flown more than 2 times this year, and less in another, like I only eat meat twice in a month.

So I tried detailed calculation.

  • This year I fly 13 times = 2.857 t
  • Average transport this year (2000 km by minicar) = 0.395 t (I always use train and a little bit commuting with motorbike so I think it should be less)
  • Electricity = 0.3 t
  • I rarely buy clothes and eat meat once in every several weeks.

In total my carbon footprints in 2016 = 3.552 t CO2

The maximum amount of CO2 a person should produce per year in order to halt climate change = 2.0 t CO2

The amount of CO2 a citizen of the EU produces each year on average = 9.10 t CO2

Look, I don’t intend to make everyone guilty, but instead to be more conscious about our acts. Because at this point, every step will count, every pounds of meat we ate, counts. We can’t risk to let our guards down like we’ve been doing for the past decades.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not intending to limit you either. But when we know how much we exceed the limit, we will think more before deciding something. I have excess 1.355 t CO2 to suspense, now the most important question is,

What are we gonna do about it?

The answer of the question will also define how much we care about the issues. We can do many little simple things to contribute, that really means a lot. (For example; bring your own cup to coffee shops, less eating palm oil products, less eating meat, recycle plastic bottle, and yadda yadda yadda). It’s an easy math, if you happen to have to fly often, then you just have to contribute more. We can’t take everything for granter forever.

Now, how much your carbon footprints this year?

Let’s count!

Raw estimation
Detailed calculation

Stepping Stones: Magnum Photos Workshop with David Alan Harvey

Posted on 27 January 2020

It’s been almost a month since I came back from Bangkok after joining Magnum Photos Workshop with David Alan Harvey. It was, as David himself warned me–no joke, a tough week but yet a life changing experience in my entire photographic journey. Now I just need to get these thoughts out of my head, hopefully would give a peek to everyone who has been curious about the workshop and maybe learn a thing or two.

I was lucky.

Couple months back, I submitted my works to a photo festival and was intended to join the workshop because I thought I need to learn more about making photo story. It was hard for me to make one story because I used to do single images back then when I was in Reuters. Long story short, I was rejected. I was like “okay… now what?”

But then it followed by unproductive and depressive weeks.

I get to Magnum Photos workshop through scholarship program from Burn Magazine which I should have attended last September in New York, but I didn’t make it–I was inside a ship just arrived in Banda Islands when Burn team sent me an email, offering me the scholarship program. I discussed with David and he allowed me to join his class in Bangkok instead.

The class was begun with a joined session–both David Alan Harvey and Jacob Aue Sobol speak about making works in a very deep personal level. Both of them agree that they need to fall in love when doing their story—either literally with your loved one, or with short encounter with people on the street.

Jacob’s story about his first book, Sabine, was intrigue me the most. The book is about his relationship with Sabine, Inuit tribe women whom he fell in love with during his visit to Greenland. The journey of traditional seal hunting cost him his professional gear, left him only several rolls of film and a pocket camera. But who knows his journey in photography was begun that way?

As the book published almost a decade later, it sparked two side of extreme opinion in the society; the one who saw it as the most beautiful and honest works of him, and the other who despise him for just exploring an Inuit women in a country where once colonized by Denmark. But later on, he realized that it is the strength of his work; an open interpretation, a freedom to the viewer to judge his works as how they see it.

“How people see my photographs is neither longer in my control, nor depict my works or myself, instead it is reflecting who they really are and how they perceive things” – Jacob Aue Sobol

Class started with portfolio reviews and what story I would be working on during the 7 days of workshop. David approached the student by building something from what we already have, from our background and pushes it to the limit. Some of the students were struggling to choose their topic until the middle of the workshop—but surprisingly come with the most personal story in the end. I was making a story about Muslim minority in Bangkok, as a contrast to situation in Indonesia where the biggest Muslim population in the world seems to be threatened with issues like Jakarta governor election. As most of my career was covering Muslim minority such as Rohingya refugee in Aceh last year, I can’t begin to understand where the fear was coming from. We have enough shelter to live, peace to pray, mosque everywhere, freedom to wear hijab, and national holiday during many Islamic celebration. So here’s to my photo-essay, yours to judge.

In class with another 13 talented students was an eye-opening experience to me. I witnessed the many different possibilities of creation on unique works during a week of workshop. Some of them were spontaneous, some were very personal. One of my favorite was Argus Paul, he was photographing about his experience in Bangkok during 30 days moratorium of the king which was published directly on Burn Magazine after the workshop was over. Looking through his photo essay was, out of mind, he literally made photograph from out of nothing—same with Duncan Wright, he has a truly aesthetic vision on things. When you compare our photo essay, you can see that we were working on totally different approach.

Same with David and Jacob—the Magnum photographers were distinctively different to each other, both in their works and their way of teaching. David is the man who will put himself on your shoes while also having his perspective when he critiques your works. As you see it clearly through his works, Jacob’s approach is through emotion. He will see how a photograph triggers certain emotion, as you can compare below, Jacob’s edit on my photo essay. He left out straight-forward pictures, instead choosing the ones that are not literal and more mysterious, which gave him certain feeling when he saw the photographs.


We can divide a photograph in two different kind of language: literal and non-literal.  Literal language often used in news photojournalism, where you can see images that describe clearly about certain event. But it cannot be denied that many times photojournalism has gone beyond that, and that is what make a photograph become iconic because it speaks beyond what you can see, give you butterfly in your stomach, or even make you think. It’s not only in photojournalism; it could be in landscape, still life, portrait, or anything you name it. When it goes beyond once it was, it becomes something more important than just a literal picture of something.

The obstacle for us to get to that level is because we used to do everything instantly. Take a picture, post it on Instagram, and get (most of the times good) appreciation directly and left out satisfied with hundreds of likes. Nothing wrong with that but when it affects the way you’re working, you’ll be doomed (like me 🙁 ). We need to work really hard, like David always reminds his student is to, squeeze the lemon dry. When you see a photo-op, work on it. Don’t get satisfied too quickly and moving to another place. Stay until it done, until you can’t photograph that anymore. You know, a picture to a photograph might just an inch away. 😉

By the end of this writing, eventually, the bottom line is our way of thinking about things. That’s what makes a photographer get to Magnum or anywhere else. It is their contact sheet. Looking to David’s and Jacob’s work then when I met them in person, I begin to understand that most of great photographers are put themselves into their picture. When Magnum saw Sabine book, they know that it is Jacob.

Look to ourselves in the mirror, and accept whoever they are with all of their flaws. They might be a hateful being, who have trust issues on people, a broken home kid who was once molested when she was young. Once I thought making a story about personal life is easier than covering issues somewhere else, because we don’t need to spend much money on travels and stuff, and it’s close to us. But it IS NOT.

It’s like looking down to your own abyss—to look back at something you were once eager to leave behind, experience it all over again, and make a story about it in an order to make peace with your past.

That is what makes us, us. That’s what makes me like I am today.


Other student’s works:

Rahid Hasan

Giovanni Ceccareli

Jacek Obloj

Priscilla Falcon

Mariagrazia Beruffi  from Jacob’s Class

First Post

Posted on 27 January 2020

Welcome to my blog. This part of the website will be used as a platform to exercise my writing skills, about what’s happening in photography and current issue, story behind the images, and short feature photo story.