Welcome to our Bali and Sumba photo Tour
Off the beaten path, in places where they set back time
As you embark on this journey, get ready to be enchanted by the captivating beauty and rich traditions of Bali and Sumba.
Our itinerary has been carefully crafted to take you on a 12-day adventure that will immerse you in two of the most awe-inspiring rituals of these islands: the Melasti and the Pasola.
Additionnaly we will explore authentic markets, villages and celebrations, get unique and intimate access to locations where you will meet the people involved in these rituals.
With our local teams guiding you every step of the way, you will have a unique opportunity to witness these ancient rituals up close and personal.
The Melasti is a sacred cleansing ceremony that takes place on Bali’s stunning beaches, where locals gather to purify themselves and offer prayers to the gods.
In Sumba, you will experience the Pasola, a thrilling ritual that involves ancient horseback battles between rival clans. The Pasola is a celebration of courage, strength, and tradition, and it will leave you breathless with its intensity and beauty. Get your high-speed-shooting cameras ready.
As you explore these magical lands, you will be transported to a world of vivid colors, exotic scents, and soulful music. You will meet locals who will welcome you with open arms and share with you their customs and traditions.
Note that this journey takes place in March, a hot season, and we will be often walking on sand (beach) under the sun, along with the Balinese. Furthermore, we will be in the middle of the action and processions, making it difficult for coaches to advise you technically and artistically on the spot (we will do that before and after), so you should have a good command of your camera beforehand.
Your coach is Patrick Firouzian, a documentary and humanitarian photographer and filmmaker who has spent over 30 years living and exploring Asia. Speaking the local language and deeply passionate about culture, photography, and teaching the art and science of travel and documentary photography, Patrick will lead you on a journey that will be both insightful and inspiring. He partners with local photography and anthropology experts, who will share the meanings of these rituals so you not only get beautiful images, but also the stories behind these rituals. Their wealth of knowledge and expertise will ensure that you leave with a deeper understanding of the region’s people, traditions, and natural beauty, as well as with a stronger foundation in the art of photography.
Where and when:
- Main itinerary and pricing on JimCline’s tour page
- Bali: multiple locations
- Sumba: multiple locations
- Photography level: Intermediate and advanced. Requires good experience in photography and ability to rise early nearly everyday, long days of photography, walk on sand.
- It’s a journey tailored for photographers, that lets you focus on what you love and allows for genuine, respectful cultural immersion. We will coach with an emphasis on storytelling and portraiture.
Through your lens, you will capture the essence of Bali and Sumba and create memories that will last a lifetime. So come with us on this journey, and let the spirit of these ancient rituals awaken your senses.
14 days itinerary (including arrival and departure days)
This itinerary is easy to follow for everyone with a good command of photography and ability to sometimes walk on the sand under the sun, along with the locals.We do not recommend this if you suffer in hot weather or have difficulties walking on sand.
We will bring you closer to the authentic beauty and culture of Balinese and Sumbanese people, offer many opportunities for portraiture with natural or artificial light, coach your composition and approach to the story.
Day 1 & 2
Day 1 (): Arrival in Denpasar, Bali’s international airport. Pickup and transport to our resort for orientation and dinner. You will meet our local cultural expert and cultural guide, and Sony/Leica ambassador and renown expert Sandy Wijaya, who will accompany us during all this journey.
Day 2 (): We drive north to a secluded village to meet and take portrait of a legendary Legong dancer in this part of Bali. After lunch, continuation of our portrait shoot, focusing on ANCIENT LEGONG dance meaning, and movements. The dance is considered one of the island’s most revered classical pieces, known for its physically demanding postures and fast-paced movements which require a significant level of flexibility among its generally young female performers. Choreographed to a set pattern with the finest detail, the dance has been well-preserved through generations. We will have an early dinner then proceed to a remote village to witness a private Puppet Sacred Dance, a trance ceremony. Unique to this village and only witnessed by Nat Geo in 1931 and 1959, undiscovered since. Dance is often used to save villagers from diseases. Late finish and return to hotel.
We transit to another area of Bali and check into a heavenly seaside resort, settle and enjoy lunch overlooking the ocean. In the afternoon, we visit a traditional village, weaving lady set, Daha. Tenganan Village is the Oldest Balinese Traditional Village located in Karangasem Regency, east part of Bali. This village is much referred by the cultural literature science of Tenganan Pegringsingan, which is very famous on the island. It has s very unique local community life pattern which is one example of Bali Aga Village culture (Hindu Prehistoric) and different from other countryside in the center Bali. We have exclusive access to meet artisans, artists, and performers. Return to the resort for dinner.
You will learn portraiture, specially using natural light, create beautiful rim-light, bouncing light,…
Today we fly to Sumba Island, a rugged paradise in eastern Indonesia, that captivates the senses with its raw beauty and ancient culture. Rolling hills and sprawling savannas provide a stunning backdrop for the island’s traditional villages, where thatched-roof huts and towering megalithic tombs transport visitors back in time. Locals, dressed in intricately woven fabrics and adorned with tribal tattoos, welcome visitors with warm hospitality and a rich history preserved for centuries. Pasola festival, a traditional spear-throwing competition between rival clans. The festival is a colorful display of local culture and customs, as participants dressed in traditional attire ride horses while hurling wooden spears at each other. The Pasola is believed to be a ritual to appease the spirits and ensure a bountiful harvest, and the intensity and spectacle of the event is truly mesmerizing. We have local knowledge on how to capture stunning action images of the horses and riders.
In Sumbanese markets, you will immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and flavors of daily life on the island. And if you’re feeling adventurous, don’t miss the chance to try betel nut, a popular local stimulant. Sumbanese people have been chewing betel nut for generations, and it’s a cultural tradition that’s deeply ingrained in daily life. It’s said to provide a mild buzz and aid in digestion, but be warned: betel nut is an acquired taste, with a bitter flavor and an astringent quality that can be off-putting to some. In the afternoon we will head to a training field where Pasola participants will showcase their horses and skills, a time to get ready with your equipment, long lenses and high-speed shooting!
This festival is a ritualistic spear-throwing competition between rival clans, which is believed to be a way to appease the spirits and ensure a successful harvest. Participants dressed in traditional attire ride horses while hurling wooden spears at each other. The Pasola is a highly competitive event that is steeped in history and cultural significance, and is considered one of the most important events on the island. The festival is also an opportunity for the Sumbanese people to come together and celebrate their unique heritage, with traditional music and dance performances taking place alongside the spear-throwing. Visitors to Sumba Island during the Pasola festival can witness this spectacular display of local culture and traditions, and experience the passion and energy of the island’s proud and resilient people. It is truly a sight to behold and an unforgettable experience for those lucky enough to witness it.
We move to another site to witness the same ritual, different clans, different light and background. The exact origin of the Pasola festival on Sumba Island is not clear, but it is believed to have been practiced for centuries by the island’s various clans. The festival is deeply rooted in local mythology and traditions and is thought to have originated as a way to appease the spirits and ensure a successful harvest. The Pasola has been a regular part of Sumbanese culture for generations and continues to be an important event on the island today. While the exact date of the festival’s origin is unknown, it is clear that the Pasola has been a part of Sumbanese culture for a very long time.
We leave quite early to visit the west side of the island, and a typical village known for its unique architecture, cultural traditions, and megalithic stones. The village is famous for its megalithic stones, which are scattered throughout the area. These stones are believed to have been erected by the ancestors of the Sumbanese people, and are used for various rituals and ceremonies. The stones are carved with intricate designs and patterns, and are considered sacred by the local community. We will then take a quick swim in a lagoon with pristine water, then eat lunch and proceed to the airport to Bali and the continuation of the festivals.
Nyepi is a major religious holiday and known as the “Day of Silence” and is observed by the Balinese people as a time for self-reflection, purification, and spiritual renewal. This is marked by a series of ceremonies and rituals, including the Melasti procession, in which worshippers carry sacred objects to the beach for purification, and the Ogoh-Ogoh parade, in which giant papier-mache statues representing evil spirits are paraded through the streets. The purpose of Nyepi is to cleanse the island of negative energy and restore balance and harmony in the universe. It is a fascinating and deeply spiritual holiday that offers a unique insight into the culture and traditions of Bali.
During the Melasti ceremony, worshippers carry sacred objects to the beach for purification. Many of the participants enter into a trance-like state, which is believed to be a form of spiritual possession. In this state, they are able to communicate with the spirits and ancestors, and receive blessings and guidance. The trance is induced through a combination of meditation, chanting, and the use of certain substances, such as incense and holy water. The participants are often accompanied by traditional Balinese music, which is believed to help them enter into the trance state. The trance is a deeply spiritual experience for the Balinese people, and is seen as an important part of the Melasti ceremony. It is believed to connect the participants with the spiritual realm and bring them closer to the divine.
What makes this journey distinctive?
- Designed in close collaboration with local cultural experts and professional photographers
- Prime access to rituals, to families, to places otherwise non accessible to foreign tourists, all with the proper permissions, avoiding cultural “dont’s”
- Guidance from photographers to help make your images stand out, more dynamic yet realistic
- Minimizing the time in minivans or airplanes, by designing an itinerary that maximizes time on the ground, exploring and learning
- Priced according to the quality of the accommodations and dining venues, as we’ve chosen the best places to stay and eat, and the closest to the action
- Main itinerary is accessible to all and brings lots of culture and beauty, in addition to as much artistic and technical guidance as you can get
- Weather or other circumstances can hinder our experience, so we built alternate locations or activities to avoid wasting time
- Main itinerary dates: See Jim Cline’s tour page for schedule and pricing
- Based on shared lodging.
- Limited to 10 people, all levels of passion, good fitness level, intermediate and advanced experience
- Includes all meals, all transportation (airport pickup and drop-off, air fare, ferry boat, minivans), model and ritual tips, all entrances
- Excludes extras, international travel
- Contact us for more details