News, Travel, Travel Photography

A Note & Postcards from Pacu Jawi

A picture is worth a thousand words. Yes, you’ve heard it, and I’ve heard it too. But now a picture is also worth a thousand dollars.

If you’re smart enough, in today’s not-so-nice situation for emerging photographers, you still can sell a photograph for that amount. But here I’m not talking about that. Instead, by saying “a picture is worth a thousand dollars” I’m talking briefly of how a photograph can actually help a community to maintain their tradition. And they are the people of Tanah Datar, who held Pacu Jawi (you can read my description here). The famous Indonesian bull’s racing in West Sumatra.

The Pacu Jawi © Muhammad Fadli

Yesterday, I visited Tabek to shoot Pacu Jawi for the countless times. This village is somehow really special for me since this was the place where I did the Community Development Participation (Kuliah Kerja Nyata or KKN) during my college years in back in 2005. Here, I experienced one of the most happiest moment in my life: shared a real life with villagers for two months. So when a good friend from Tabek called me few days ago telling Pacu Jawi will be held there, I felt like I was facing an offer I can’t refuse (citing The Godfather). Departing from Padang, I accelerated my car passing the winding road that decorate the land of Minangkabau.

“If you’re visiting, you’re guaranteed a tasty local food and the sweet ‘kawa’ without having to be ripped off.”


What I found surprised me. Pacu Jawi today, is being celebrated more than ever before. Three years ago, when I first shot Pacu Jawi, there were only very few outsider watching the raging bulls running through the wet unplanted ricefield. Most people were locals. But then, there were more and more outsiders came, especially after the photographs of Pacu Jawi were published widely (almost all were done by local photographers and you can see my first photo of the festival here). Yesterday there were two Indonesian national TV (with their beautiful hosts), a horde of photographers, and tourists. This is good!!

© Muhammad Fadli

The Pacu Jawi © Muhammad Fadli

The more ousiders come, the more of the local economy will develop (it’s pretty obvious, so I actually don’t need to tell you this). In Pacu Jawi, locals sell anything from foods to toys. If you’re visiting, you’re guaranteed a tasty local food and the sweet kawa (like coffee but different) without having to be ripped off. And I can see that they are started making good business. By looking at this I couldn’t be happier.

So be sure to spend some of your money here.

P.S: If you’re a photographer, the local usually will also ask you to register as a guest. They will ask you for some donation too. Please kindly fill the box as you wish. Don’t mind. This will go directly to the community and making sure the bulls keep running.

(Pacu Jawi is held almost every Saturday somewhere in Tanah Datar. The series in Tabek will be celebrated until early February 2012)

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News, Photojournalism

And Then China Came Closer

During my not-so-usual busy schedule and the rush hour of this week, I found something to be really exciting in my inbox few days ago: an email from Humanity Photo Award 2011.

Suddenly my mind flew to few months back when I read the annoucement of this photo contest somewhere over the web. Just to make it short, this competition all participants need to submit two photo stories. So I decided to register and give it a try. Later on, I searched for a possibilites in my harddrive. I put two series into it and it was done.  I never looked back into the website even once. For sure, I really hope to achieve something. But by seeing the winners from 2009’s comptition, I thought it will be hard enough for me. And the best thing to do was to forget it.

And the good news popped up inside my email. One of my photo story about The Mentawai (as published in The Jakarta Globe) people won a nomination award. While another, my story about Pacu Jawi, a bull’s racing festival in West Sumatra, Indonesia,  now is entering the final evaluation to compete for the grand prize award.

The Final Evaluation List for Festivities Category

Although I’m totally happy, getting the nomination award in this competition is not that extraordinary by the measure of prize. I will only get an award certificate and a catalogue from all of nominated participants. But by entering the final evaluation, I will be invited to be in China next September for attending the awarding ceremony. And that’s really something.

Actually, I have planned to be in China, but not sure about the timing. Last week I also met a fellow photojournalist and tried to set a plan to land somewhere in China next year. And in all of a sudden, It came closer by itself. It’s like my travel addiction always find itself a way. Nothing to complain. Perfect.

The Nomination Award List for Living Customs Category

So I’m starting to sort everything out again. I have to dig more about China. Where can I go after Beijing? (the awarding ceremony is seemed to be there) and for how long? and what to do or what to photographs then? Going to China for only for waiting the final result will not be enough for me. What If I will not win the grand prize? So I have to plan my self a better prize: exploring China for a while.

Here I attached two photographs from each story.

A Homecoming Shaman, from The Mentawai series

Showing the bull's name, from The Pacu Jawi series

🙂

That’s a little update for this week.

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