Bali Odyssey – a photo essay by Jodie Parker

I decided to take photographs for my story board during my travels in Bali. Prior to leaving I had planned to focus my photographs on the Balinese culture. This would include Balinese food, entertainment, housing facilities, religious rituals, clothing, labour, landscape and Balinese people.

However, when I ventured outside my hotel, which was located in Legian, and did some exploring in Kutah, I realised how Westernised these parts of Bali were. People often travel to other parts of the world in order to experience and get a taste of other cultures. In Legian and Kutah, I felt that the true Balinese culture was hidden and overtaken by the Western culture which was why I organised a day trip to see the more remote and “untouched” parts of Bali. My driver Wyan, a Balinese local drove two hours north, stopping along the way at schools, rice fields, villages, markets, monkey parks and stalls.

I became instantly drawn to the people I met along the way and changed my focus of Balinese culture to the faces of Bali. I was in awe of how beautiful and hard working these people were, how friendly they were, how much they cherish their family and friends and I wanted to show this is my photograph’s.

I felt rather uncomfortable waltzing into these remote villages with the flashy camera and just snapping photographs at whatever and who ever I pleased. Asking for permission was difficult as I no one spoke English. One of the biggest issues for me taking these photographs was that majority of the people featured in my photographs were quite poor. This was one thing that I felt uncomfortable capturing, as I did not want my photographs to appear at all patronising. At the same time however, it was something that I could not avoid as this was how many of them lived. I often gave money to those people I took photos of. I wanted to give something back to them for allowing me to come into their village and to take their picture.

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