Missing Bali

It’s early morning, we’re staying at a cosy little hotel just outside Rome, Italy. I can hear this giant of cities waking up outside. Only days ago I woke up in Bali, overlooking the Sayan Gorge, the air nice and cool, to another view. Today it feels so far away. Everyday I try and tell stories with my images, capture shards of life, moments in time. Sometimes I do well, other times it’s more difficult. In many ways that’s the beauty of photography. As much as you want to be able to control it, own it, there are elements to it you can never own. Sometimes photography lets you down.

I struggle with capturing Bali.

Mere images can not, in any way, capture all that Bali is. The feel of it, the look, the smell, none of that can be translated into photography. The image below is just a flat and somewhat dull attempt at taking what Bali is and explaining it to you. Looking at it I know I have failed. Standing on the deck at Bambu Indah overlooking the Sayan Gorge can’t be captured in a photograph, nor can it be described properly in words.

And that’s why I’ve decided to do a workshop there. In that very spot.

I don’t know when yet, but it will happen.

Must happen.

Hopefully we can then experience a little of what Bali is, together.

And maybe talk about photography.

Share this story

  1. You make a good point, we need a form of photography that captures smell and atmosphere to truly capture the essence of places like Bali.

  2. Hi Jonas. I’m a photographer from Indonesia and my heart is aching seeing your images :) Make sure you let me know when you are in town. I also might be able to arrange things (for the workshop) for you, be your eyes on the ground.


  3. This is beautifully eloquent, Jonas, and captures my sentiments exactly. I hope you don’t mind that I shared it on my Facebook page (crediting you, of course). Sounds like a great idea for a workshop spot, I’d love to attend it one day down the line!

  4. This is beautifully eloquent, Jonas, and captures my sentiments exactly. I hope you don’t mind that I shared it on my Facebook page (crediting you, of course). Sounds like a great idea for a workshop spot, I’d love to attend it one day down the line! I am quite interested in pohotgraphy in fact but I am pretty bad at it. People keep asking to see my pictures from Bali, and can you believe it… I didn’t actually bring a camera on my trip because I thought it might take away from the experience (plus I knew there would be someone like you there!). I am interested in discussing photography through philosophical and psychological lenses.

  5. I vote you do the workshop next March. If all goes as planned I will be redeploying from Antarctica and need a *green* place to regroup, explore and breathe. This past March I did that. Bali is a magical place and I get what you are saying about capturing the spirit of Bali in an image. I want to explore this possibility more.

  6. We where there for three weeks last year and there is something truly magical about the place. My husband is a surfer and together we shoot weddings. We spent two weeks traveling around and went to Lembongan Island which I highly recommend, a week in Uluwatu / Belangan and a week in Nusa Dua for a wedding that we shot there. It is one of those places that touches you and keeps calling for you to go back! Love this shot.

  7. Bali holds such a special place to my fiance and I, I teach Indonesian and my fiance proposed to me there last year… Would you be able to recommend a photographer there for a engagement shoot in September? I would enquire with you (that would be my dream) but I am scared to add those travel costs up!! Unless you were already booked for Bali wedding in September??? Hehe! LOVE you’re work!

  8. I love Asia and missed Indonesia on my last five month adventure… If you do a workshop there well I don’t think there would be much of an excuse not to go back.

  9. I agree with Courtney Lindberg. Perhaps part of what is so magical about the place is that it is beyond being captured.
    Nice work, Jonas. I’m starting to fall in love with a place to which I’ve never been.

  10. Stunning words.
    I`m going to Bali and Bambu Indah in Aug. 5 whole weeks at Bambu Indah and Yoga Immersions. I can`t wait.
    @ Jonas :
    any suggestions for my stay? whatever you think its important :)

  11. This is why I’ve always felt that the best British photographer of all time was Thomas Hardy. Whilst a picture can paint a thousand words, a handful of well crafted words can paint an evocative picture. Rest assured you fare more than well on both counts.

  12. Seems like a great place even though it might as well be someplace in Sweden (aside from the palmtrees). :)

  13. This is such a beautiful photo of Sayan Gorge. I feel so lucky I live 45 minutes away by plane from Bali. My parents even have a home there, but I always amaze everytime I saw your photo of Bali. Thank you for loving Bali. I will also miss Bali so much when I move to Auckland, NZ, and it even hard to know that you have decided to have a workshop there and I’m going to miss it.


  14. Well Jonas, I’ve stood in that exact same spot before and tried to take a photo – you sure as hell did a better job than I did.

  15. It’s so beautiful, your capture… Count me in.
    Looking so much fwd to meeting you, and seeing you work at the 21.7 wedding!! :) Mia

  16. Jonas,
    You inspire me not only with your stunning images but with your thoughtful words. I have been to Bali and completely agree with you…how do you capture the essence of a land that flows so sweetly? Maybe it is as if it is not meant to be captured…maybe it remains illusive and waits to be experienced in person. One must hati (feel) Bali. Thank you for this, I must get back there soon!

  17. Having just done the Jonas workshop in Brisbane I would highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about it.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *