The late René Burri, who was one of Rio’s mentors, said: “Photography is not simply documentation. Even though it’s mechanical, you should use the camera for the expression of some kind of feeling – empathy, sympathy, love, hate or whatever it is. And if you don’t capture it at the moment, it doesn’t get stronger afterwards. While photographing, you have to employ your mind, your soul and your heart!”
That really stuck with Rio throughout the years.
Since travelling and photography have been an essential part of Rio’s life, this retreat is a unique opportunity to meet with him in person and to travel across East Java in the hunt for visual treasures.
We have created a six-day and five-night photographic tour of Banyuwangi led by leading senior Indonesian photographer Rio Helmi, who over the years, has spent many a week exploring East Java on his motorbike. We will explore the art of visual storytelling and you will learn about different kinds of photography: landscape, wildlife, documentary, and general travel.
We will be based in the luxury eco-sustainable Jiwa Jawa hotel consistently and will be within an easy striking range of major attractions – the Ijen crater lake with its sulphur mines, coffee and rubber plantations, striking landscapes, villages with vibrant communities, and a little further afield, Madurese fishing harbours and the famed Baluran wildlife reserve.
Participants will be free to set up their own project assignments helped by Rio and a crew of guides/fixers, and we will provide local transportation according to your project’s needs. We gather in the evenings or afternoons to assess progress and receive/give guidance.
Rio will be mentoring participants and imparting motivating talks about photography as well as assesing portfolio appraisals and offering tips on editing and workflow.
We will travel by land in a spacious, comfortable air-conditioned minibus from Bali to Banyuwangi regency. It’s about 3 hours to the ferry from Ubud and less than an hour after that to the hotel we will be staying at. We prioritize privacy and comfort, so the group will have a maximum of 6 guests at any one time.
Who will be leading the tour?
This photography retreat was born out of passion for travel and photography. Rio Helmi has been a leading expert for photojournalism in Indonesia and is a true Bali legend. Born to a Turkish mother and an Indonesian diplomat, he has been capturing images of Asia and writing about the region since 1978.
His work can be seen in magazines, documentaries, and in more than 20 large-format photographic books. Solo exhibitions of Rio’s still-photography have been held in Bali, Jakarta, Madrid, Miyazaki, Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Sydney, and his works are held in many private collections around the world, including London, Rome, Boston, Washington, and Tokyo.
In the past, Rio’s focus has been on the interaction between indigenous peoples and their environment. During this photo retreat, he will be sharing his knowledge and will inspire and impart the art of storytelling and the method of how to capture the world through a lens.