I have now been in a hot and sunny Makassar since Thursday evening, meeting up with friends and contacts and chasing down a few details of the different projects, which are now starting to come together.
First stop in Makassar was to meet up with two good friends here – Sarah Oakes and Pete Howson, both of whom volunteer with VSO Indonesia. I originally met them both last year after Sarah asked me to come over to Makassar to shoot the different community projects she is supporting. Have a look at the results of this trip here – Makassar – VSO Indonesia.
I was hoping to shoot at the Jongaya settlement during my previous visit but because of 'political' issues, it wasn't really possible and we decided to concentrate on other projects. Now that these issues have been resolved, Sarah was keen to get me back there and so on Friday we both went over to meet representatives of PerMaTa, a community group that helps the residents of Jongaya – in particular, those suffering from leprosy.
The meeting was very fruitful and we now have a plan of action. PerMaTa has requested that I shoot images that can be used for advocacy purposes – basically to reduce the stigma of leprosy in Makassar and further afield – and so the plan is to build up a series of portraits of residents at the settlement going about their daily lives. And rather than shoot typical images of people that have suffered from leprosy, we will be producing positive images that steer clear of any common stereotypes. So I am planning on shooting business owners, families, mixed groups (people with leprosy working alongside those without the disease), men and women, young and old – a broad spectrum of people in Jongaya. I travel with 2 strobes, a softbox and a reflector and so am going to shoot some beautiful 'environmental portraits' – in their place of work or at home, for instance. Combined with suitable captions, we are hoping that these images will make people think twice about people that suffer from leprosy.
We also met up with a photographer who joined my workshop here last year. Over the next week, he will be shadowing me as I work and I'll be sharing tips and tricks and building up his knowledge of photography. Hopefully he will be joined by other members of PerMaTa so that I can do some informal teaching and leave the group with some useful skills for the future.
The 'Trash Mountain' project is also moving ahead and next week I will be meeting up with teachers at the 'Slum school' and again, making some plans. I want to work with 2-3 families that live and work at the site, spending plenty of time with each family so I can build up a complete picture of their day-to-day lives. Like the Jongaya project, I want to avoid the typical, 'doom and gloom' images. Whilst conditions are certainly terrible at the site, I want to highlight the work the Sacred Childhoods Foundation are doing there with the school and the micro-finance scheme.
It being Sunday, I spent yesterday afternoon taking a break. Well, that was the plan. I ended up at a Bugis wedding reception for lunch and then hectic Chap Goh Meh celebrations in Makassar's Chinatown. I will be going back to shoot more celebrations tonight after finishing at Jongaya so will post a selection of images when I can. Until then, a couple of images straight out of the phone from yesterday…
Sarah and another friend, Roy, working on a translation for me – with doughnuts of course…
The bride and groom.