To See Rather Than Look

One of the Bali Street Photographer’s core values is to see rather than look.


Chasing Harsh Light During Transition Time

Today, we were blessed with clear skies and harsh light. While in the middle of Bali’s rainy season no less.

About the photo: a market porter strides by a texting young adult and bemo shortly after 8 a.m. (transition time) in front of Pasar Ubud.

Learn more about layered photograph compositions.

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Photography Sightseeing

Guest Photographer Kathryn from Canada

The Photography & Techie Connection

One of the things I love about my passion project, Bali Street Photographer Pasar Ubud Tours, is meeting people from everywhere. Recently, things got even more interesting. At least three participants have two things in common with me. They come from high tech backgrounds and they love photography. I’m wondering now. Could this be a coincidence? Or, is there some connection between being a techie and loving photography?

Is it because techies are also creators? And, techies like gadgets? What do you think? Leave me a comment below.

Short Hiatus

First, let me apologise. This is a late post. I took some time-off from the tours in September-October to focus on a couple projects. Now it’s mid-November, and I’m still trying to catch up on sharing new posts.

Happiness Engineering

Photo ©️ Kathryn Presner on the Bali Street Photorapher Tour in Pasar Ubud
Happiness Engineering at Pasar Ubud
Photo ©️ Kathryn Presner on the Bali Street Photorapher Tour in Pasar Ubud

Speaking of hiatuses. In August, I was thrilled to meet Kathryn from Canada. Kathryn was in Bali for part of her sabbatical from being a Happiness Engineer at Automattic, Inc. Automattic is the parent company of is where is hosted.

I have a confession. Saying that I’m honoured to guide a Happiness Engineer from Automattic is an understatement!

Thanks for joining the tour, Kathryn!

Learn more and check the full gallery on Kathryn’s site. Not to be missed.

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News Photography

Meals on Wheels – New Additions

More two wheel wonders from the streets of Bali.

Meals on Wheels - Bali Street Photographer

See the full gallery.

Culture Photography

Bali Street People

Street Life

Life is in your face on the streets of Indonesia. Bali is no exception.

Toy Bicycle Vendor Outside Naughty Nuri's - Bali Street Photographer
Toy Bicycle Vendor Outside Naughty Nuri’s – Bali Street Photographer

Beggars, vendors, street food sellers, & taxi drivers are a big part of every day Bali. This is why street photography here is never a dull moment.

Street People Ubud Bali - Bali Street Photographer
Street People Ubud Bali – Bali Street Photographer
Kaki lima - Ubud Bali - 35 mm film - Bali Street Photographer
Kaki lima (five legs) food vendor on Jalan Raya Ubud on 35mm film.

The Bemo – Bali’s Shared Public Bus

The Philippines as its Jeepney. Thailand has its Songthaew. Jakarta has its Angkot. Bali has its Bemo.

Taking a Bemo ride an adventure in itself. Photographing a Bemo can lead to interesting and unique compositions. Here’s a small collection of examples.

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Photography Sightseeing

Guest Photographer Paul from Australia

I’m pleased to announce a new addition to the Bali Street Photographer galleries. Please have a look at Paul Eveleigh’s wonderful photograph contributions.

I especially love the composition work in these three lovely images.

See the rest on Paul’s dedicated gallery.

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Strangers Are Friends We Haven’t Met Yet

Photographing People

Photographing people is a hot topic for street photography. This particular subject comes up a lot. Today, I’m sharing with you how I approach photographing people on the street.

“Strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet.” ~Peter Swanson

Tip #1 Commit This Quote to Memory

This endearing quote is my mantra. First tip, make this mantra yours too. Repeat these words silently in your head often. The message in these words will set the tone when you are out on the street.

Tip #2 Set a Clear & Pure Intention to Make Art

In my humble opinion (IMHO), street photography is about mindset. It’s because of this philosophy, I wrote the Bali Street Photographer Manifesto.

Mission Statement for Bali Street Photographer

  • To see rather than look.
  • To create rather than take.
  • To explore rather than visit.
  • To connect rather than separate.

More mantras to practice 😉

The mindset makes the difference. Taking photographs and making photographs are two different things. Photography is an art. Making photographs is making art.

The vibe you give off behind the lens will be noticed. If your intention is ego-based (e.g. getting likes on IG), it will show. Your facial features will be more intense—maybe even aggressive looking. Your movements will be rough and noticed.

If you have little-to-no expectations, have an open attitude, or treat everything as a gift, then your face and body language will be more relaxed. You’ll blend-in easier. You’ll give off a more genuine and welcoming vibe.

Woman through a bemo window - Pasar Ubud Bali Street Photography Tours
“Looking for Saul” in Ubud, Bali.

Artistic Inspiration

Tip #3 Understand the Different STYLES

  1. 3+ Metres Away. If people are more than three metres away, they are basically in the open. If you have a wide angle lens (best for street photography), they’ll be in the frame. Do you need to ask permission first? Generally, no.
  2. 2 Metres or Less. Unless you are in a crowd or someone walks right in front of your camera while clicking, always ask permission to click when you are two metres or less away. I try not to make a big deal when asking—maybe make eye contact, point at your camera, and smile. Why? Because street photography is about capturing daily life. Once people pose for the photo with the gratuitous high sign (or thumbs up), game over. The candid moment is gone.
  3. Be Lost in the Crowd / Be a Tourist. Be a tourist. Get lost in the crowd. When you have these two things going for you, most people expect you to make photographs. If they even notice you at all. In crowded places, people will be walking into your frame at all distances. It’s not practical to ask everyone for permission. Unless, of course, you come into a face-to-face one-on-one situation. If this is the case, ask.
  4. Click and Smile. I’m talking about a genuine smile, of course. I actually don’t prescribe you smile all the time. But, if you enjoy photography, then a natural smile is inevitable.
  5. Body Language. If you see someone in front of your lens shy-away, frown, or give you the stop sign, don’t click the shutter. Maybe even say you’re sorry (with a smile) in their native language.
  6. Make New Friends (Saving the Best for Last). Be curious. Be authentically interested in what people do. No matter how mundane. I love chatting with the ladies at the market who make the banten (offerings) from scratch every day. Some of the vendors that I make the time to speak with, have been doing what they do starting at 4 am every morning for 20 years. This might seem like the most banal thing for them or for most photographers. For me, it’s exciting and new every time. Now, these “former strangers” are friends. And, opportunities to photograph them come often. It’s fun all around.

Caveat: please abide by your local rules and regulations. Above all, be polite.

Chasing harsh light - Pasar Ubud Bali Street Photography Tours
Moments before I made this street portrait, this woman and I were talking about the food she was selling. I asked her permission to make a photo. I said I like the light on her face. She said no problem.

Tip #4 Don’t Take Things Personally, Yet Be Empathetic

Be empathetic. Say you are on your lunch break after a crazy hectic morning at the office. You are sitting at your quiet place (in public), enjoying your sandwich. You feel this morning’s stress start to melt away. Then, along comes a 80 mm lens aimed right at you from 2-3 meters away—click. Arrgggh.

Don’t take things personally. If someone says no or waves you off, it’s not about you. Respect their space. It’s ok. As with life in general, don’t let rejections discourage you.

Parting Exercise

Count the number of times in the article you see these words or phrases.

  1. Take a picture/photo.
  2. Shoot the camera/person.
  3. User.
  4. Canon.
  5. Nikon.
  6. FujiFilm.
  7. iPhone.
  8. Samsung.
Photographing People - Balinese Bapak on 35mm film
I asked this kind gentleman if could make a portrait of him. He adjusted his posture a bit, then nodded ok.

All photos were made with a 23mm or 55mm lens. No zooms or excessive cropping done.

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Light & Shadow

Magnum and Nat Geo photographer, Alex Webb has a super human way of photographing the streets. His uncanny eye and brilliant colour technique are unmatched in the art of street photography.

I’m dedicating a new gallery inspired by Webb’s artistic perspective of street photography. Here’s a quick sneak peek of the new Light & Shadow series on Bali Street Photographer. Stay tuned for more.

Feature photo: A bemo (public transportation mini van) whizzes by on Jalan Raya Ubud.

What is Artistic Street Photography? Learn more here.

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All Packed Up

This market stall vendor has closed up her stall, packed up her scooter, and now attempting to make it to the open road. Ah, the challenges of everyday Bali.

See this new addition and more like it on the Meals (and other things) on Wheels gallery.

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