Shooting Simplicity: A Different Way to Celebrate Kartini Day

Magelang Java Borobudur Humble Simple Modest

By: Sahrudin@SahrudinSaja

I always wished education to begin in simplicity and modesty…” (Raden Ajeng Kartini, December 11, 1903.)

EVERYTHING began with simplicity.

My friend Sulung, mom of a cute 7-year-old daughter, asked me to take pictures of her somewhere in Magelang Regency rural.

She knew that I was not a fashion photographer. I was more interested in street photography and photojournalism. I didn’t have any experience in working with models. When it comes to modifying light and directing poses I was totally blank.

Magelang Java Borobudur Humble Simple Modest

“Nothing to worry about”, she said. All I had to do was find one or two humble houses in countryside of Magelang. “Ups, once more… clothing that usually worn by Javanese farm women.”

Simplicity completely meant everything for us.

We only brought one camera, Canon EOS 550D, and its kit lens Canon 18-55mm. No external flashlight, and no other photography equipment.

Magelang Java Borobudur Humble Simple Modest

I set the camera in the basic modes, landscape and portrait. I was often too lazy to change the ISO, the metering mode, white balance, or exposure compensation.

“The camera had done everything for me”, I once thought.

The process was so simple that I just concentrated on taking photos. Forgot about camera’s settings, just had fun, and enjoyed the action of shooting her.

Magelang Java Borobudur Humble Simple Modest

“Creativity works best within restraints”, some people said. Great wording that I had proof it.

(At least, Sulung seemed pretty pleased with her pictures I shot. I knew, she was a very straightforward woman. This was the only thing I used to measure what I have done for her.)

What I felt at that moment was by limiting options, my mind started seeing ways to make images within the boundaries that I have set. It could be surprising how much variety I achieved with one camera and its cheapest lens.

Magelang Java Borobudur Humble Simple Modest

Like I said above, I consciously forgot that photography is ultimately about taking beautiful photos with such complicated pieces of equipment.

I was just enjoying the process as I went along. I thought, the basic idea of photography is actually quite simple but some people tend to overcomplicate it.

Magelang Java Borobudur Humble Simple Modest

THIS is April. For me and Indonesians, it is month of women. We will celebrate Kartini Day on April 21. It is the day when Indonesian women pay tribute to our heroine, Raden Ajeng Kartini.

Kartini, that was her only name as Raden Ajeng is her Javanese feudal title. She was born on April 21, 1879. She was considered to be one of several Indonesian women’s rights pioneers.

Kartini died when she was 25. During her momentary life, she set up a school for women. The school was believed the first ever in Indonesia, which at that time was under the power of the Dutch.

Magelang Java Borobudur Humble Simple Modest

Kartini Day has been commemorated since 1964, after President Sukarno declared her an Indonesian national heroine.

Inspiring facts about Kartini was disclosed after her letters were first published at the Hague of Netherlands in 1911 under the title “Door Duisternis tot Licht” (from Darkness into Light).

The letters were collected and edited by Dr JH Abendanon, former Minister of Education and Industry for The Dutch East Indies. Many of the letters were written to him and to his wife “Moedertje.”

Besides stories of the struggle for Javanese and Indonesian female emancipation, one thing that always shines from every Kartini posters nowadays is her simplicity and modesty.

No crown upon her head. No luxurious accessories and dress.

Magelang Java Borobudur Humble Simple Modest

Let female activists always continue rallying to demand emancipation, and kindergarten students wear traditional clothes in every Kartini Day.

But you, photographers and models, it never hurts to celebrate this honorable day by applying humble and modest concept in every your photo session. Isn’t it?***

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