Thursday, January 11, 2007

Rarindra Prakarsa

I am from Jakarta, Indonesia. A country with million place and object to photograph. A beautiful country indeed. Now, I am a semi-pro photographer, enjoying my job/hobby & selling my stock-photo. Photographing since 1995.

As many of you already know, I am NOT a fan of sentimental tripe photography-wise. I find the legions of drama-queen landscape/nature photographers, who spew out endless reams of images of a world made up of never-ending golden light vistas, to be a particulary unimaginative and contemptible lot of eco-pornographers. My issue with them is not with their style of photography per se, but rather with what I (and many others) believe to be the detrimental effect that their photography has on conservation and the evironmental cause - "...picture-book nature, scenic and sublime, praiseworthy but not battle-worthy. Tarted up into perfectly circumscribed simulations of the wild, these props of mainstream environmentalism serve as surrogates for real engagement with wilderness, the way porn models serve as surrogates for real women. They are placebos substituting for triage." - Lydia Millet, High Country News (the eco-pornographer link goes to the complete article).

But, back to Rarindra Prakarsa's photographs. When I first encountered these photographs in his portfolio on, I got all flustered and flummoxed. I'm not suppose to like this stuff - altered and romanticized landscapes littered with incessantly picture-book perfect children. Yikes!! How many cliches can you cram in a single photograph?

But, so help me, like the proverbial car wreck scene, I couldn't stop looking. And looking. And looking.

So, I emailed Rarindra and asked, ...what is your artistic intent with these photographs? The response - "Thank you for enjoying my pictures. You should visit my beautiful country someday." - really didn't answer the question other than to reinforce the initial impression created by his photographs that his country is beautiful.

He did give me permission to post them on The Landscapist, so here they are. I think they are pertinent because, take out the kiddies, they are classic landscape photographs albeit in a rather romanticized genre. With the kiddies they become something else...

I am beginning to see them as a sort of children's fable in the style of the illustrator Chris Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and The Polar Express (especially his style as adapted for the movie). As in many of Van Allsburg's illustrations, in Rarindra's photographs much is left to the observer's imagination to fill in the "blanks". For me, there is a sense of mystery about them. I am drawn into a world that's a little off-kilter where something's going on that I can't quite grasp and, for some reason that I can't quite express yet, they seem to be something more than just sentimental idyllics.

For all I know, maybe Rarindra's intent with these photographs is nothing more than an attempt to create hyper-Kodak/Hallmark moments. Perhaps because of language issues, he didn't really respond to my question about intent.

Nevertheless, I am very eager to hear your thoughts on these photographs.


Anonymous Jim Jirka said...

These are really quite intriging. With the term that arose recently of "deathscapes", I would consider these "dreamscapes".

1/11/2007 07:57:00 PM  
Anonymous mary dennis said...

These are compelling in terms of the man/nature, child/nature connection but something about the cheeriness of the light doesn't sit well with me. However, I can't imagine these images without that light. I am most drawn to the top image I think because the family seems so immersed in their surroundings, as if the tree was part of the furniture of their life--which it might just be. I wonder if these were set-up or spontaneously shot.

1/11/2007 08:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve Durbin said...

Jim and Mary said it well, these are compelling dreamscapes created (I'm sure they were posed) by someone who understands emotional pulls. By going so far over the top, he captures my immediate fascination, but loses a shot at my sustained interest. I admire the skill, but I'll never purchase one. However, I'm pretty sure he'll have a positive effect on a lot more people through his photography than I ever will through mine. No regrets, that's just how it is.

1/11/2007 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger Rosie Perera said...

These remind me of the paintings of Thomas Kincaid ("painter of light"), which I find to be too sentimental for my taste. Designed to make us feel snug and secure in a world that is all sweet and charming, which it isn't.

1/14/2007 08:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

while the photos are interesting to look at, i find them surreal because quite frankly they aren't's one thing to dodge and burn a photo but it's another to add light rays and backgrounds from other photos...

2/07/2008 08:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason the light is so eery but perfect is because of the sun filtering through the canopy. In a lot of these, the green glow is from this effect. He is simply taking the pictures as he sees them, most of the time.

5/13/2008 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger afiq said...

i know you!
i've read your conversation with the malaysian photography magazine, advance image.
my first expression bout those all of your pictures was so amazing.
i can't take my eyes on those pictures. i've tried bout how to take a photo with the light.
just like u said at that magazine, at the golden hours. unfortunately it's all didn't work!
can you give me another chance or secrets how to be an amazing photographer just like you!
i'm the one who really love in this field.


9/11/2008 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Jojie Certeza said...

YUP!!!!! Saw these images waaay back at and am love at first site.. really awesome -- and still wonders how this was done!

5/25/2010 08:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A picture is worth a thousand words, if you ever watched a movie
"Living dangerously" there was a similar light effects in this film when the Australian journalist,Mel Gibson, visited a hut in the outskirt of Jakarta.

10/23/2010 12:22:00 PM  

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