Food Category February 2021 Winner, taken in Jemaja Island, Province of Riau Islands, Indonesia, by Aulia Erlangga, captioned “Salted fish is the main economic commodity for people in small islands in remote areas of Indonesia. Abundant marine products must be preserved in order to have economic value because inter-island ships that will bring their salted fish production to markets on big islands do not stop at their ports every day. And preserving it by salting it is the most economical way. Seawater and sunshine are always available”
As ASIAN Geographic’s annual Images of Asia (IOA) 2021 Photo/Videography Competition looms closer, submissions to our IOA Monthly competition – the precursor to our annual event – are pouring in. We have received stunning photos across the categories, and are now featuring our monthly winners in an exclusive interview!
Below is our interview with Aulia Erlangga, the IOA Monthly February 2021 Winner in the Food category.
AG: What is the story of your beginning and journey to creating great images?
In early 1998, it was the first time I autodidactly learned photography using an analog camera. At that time, I worked as a desktop publisher in an international Non Government Organization (NGO) and I needed photos for campaign materials. It was an unforgettable memory that in my first experience as a photographer, I totally failed to get good results.
As time passing by, I understood using the “light meter” function on the camera and I started to produce good photos. It was easy for me to understand about composition because I master graphic design.
I was very fortunate that the subject of my photo at that time was a traditional community living in the deep of the jungle. A sexy issue about the environment.
In 2011, I was awarded an award from UNESCO Humanity Photography Award for my series of photographs about the Orang Rimba (Jungle People) who live in the deep jungle of Sumatra Island. These photos were the photos that I produced during the 1998-2000 period, early period I learned photography.
AG: How would you define your style and concepts you enjoy exploring?
I love photographing humans. Humans and the environment in which they live and survive. Almost all of my photos have the theme of human interest. My concept when photographing is to always have human in the photo even if it is a landscape photo.
AG: What is great photography to you, and are there any photographers you would like to work with?
In my opinion, good photography is a photography that can tell a story about the mood of the subject, of course within the scope of human interest in photography. I really want to learn from Steve Mc Curry. His photo book “Portraits” really inspired me.
AG: What is your preferred imaging gear to work with and why?
I use Nikon D500. Why I use Nikon? Because my first camera is Nikon F3. First love matter.
I use only 2 lenses. Lens 1: 17-55 mm. I like using this lens because it does not cause distortion. This mid zoom lens is also suitable for my needs in photographing both humans and nature. Lens 2: 80-200 mm, I use this lens when I act as a sniper, this lens makes it easy for me to take candid photos. And there is one old lens that I still use, namely the 58mm MF lens. This lens nicknamed is Nocturnal because of its ability to capture images in low light conditions. I use this lens to shoot night scenes. One of the reasons I use Nikon is because I can still use my old lens on a new body.
AG: What is the next Asian destination you’d like to explore and why?
I want and will continue to explore Indonesia more.
Indonesia is really amazing, a never ending archipelago. It is crescent of sparkling island laced together through luminous seas. The thousands of islands range from some of the world’s largest to tiny specks in the sea.
Indonesia is fiery volcanoes, verdant forest, serpentine rivers, and fertile plains. Indonesia is beautiful. The people are living in simple way. They are humble and full of smiles. They are so diverse from east to west parts of Indonesia. They are one nation.
I want to continue exploring Indonesia because I am obsessed with working on a book called “Indonesian, Portraits of an Archipelago”. The photographs will capture the moods of the islands, fields, and seas and the relationship of the people to their land and water. Their great motherland.
AG: Can you share more about your current and upcoming projects?
It has been one year since the pandemic hit Indonesia and all countries in the world. In the past year, I have been doing more activities at home. Starting work on the book “Indonesian, Portraits of an Archipelago” is my current project. Certainly, the work on this book is a long project, maybe even it will take the rest of my life. For now, I have been curating my photos archive since I started shooting in 1998. Choosing images from tens of thousands photos that I have produced is certainly not easy. I’ve also started to give each selected photo a caption. Not just a simple caption, but a short story about my trip or a story that can convey my mood when taking pictures or the mood of my subject. I hope life will return to normal as it was before the pandemic, and I can start my journey through Indonesia again.