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Bob Matkodak is a talented self-taught, street and wedding photographer based in Indonesia. He was first inspired from a friend’s brother portrait photographs, he took from him the basic knowledge in less than one hour, and he immediately started studying alone.
He prefers shooting the moment instead of capturing scenes and he believes that “the eyes are windows to the soul”
We had the chance to make an interview with him and learn more about his work
“The eyes are windows to the soul”
Tell us a few things about you. How did your journey in photography begin?
My interest in photography began in 1986 when I was studying in Bandung. Back then, I accidentally caught myself passing by the “Institute of Art Photography” campus which is located on Jalan RE Martadinata, people call it Jalan Riau. But I didn’t dare to stop, because I knew I could not afford the cost. As years passed by, in 1990 I was visiting my friend’s house and I saw many portrait photographs. I admired them and asked my friend who the photographer was. My friend said that his brother took the photographs.
Afterwards I learned to recognize the three keys of shooting photographs with my friend’s brother. I was taught to understand ISO, speed and diaphragm and immediately learned the basics in less than 1 hour. I got very passionate about photography, and I was spending time on practicing. I still remember in detail those days.
Apart from photography, are you interested in other activities?
I just live a normal life in Indonesia. I am taken by social work, contributing to my community and helping wealthy merchants distribute money or food among the people in need. I find this kind of engagement very satisfying and meaningful.
Which other important artists/photographers would you list as influencers or inspiring?
There are several photographers who inspire me like Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier Bresson. I honestly admire their work.
Do you think photography reveals a lot about the person behind the lens?
Photography actually reveals a lot of things about the photographer. Photography has the ability to convey a message to the public, it speaks directly to your heart without words.
How important is the feeling in your work? Does it work as a guide? What urges you to take the photographs you do?
Of course feelings are above all. When traveling and taking photographs you capture a unique moment. You live the present with all your feelings but you seize a single moment in front of the lens. What I see with my eyes I consider it as a gift from God who is always inside us.
Is your work more about your personal experience, or do you feel it describes other people’s lives?
I would say that it describes mostly other people’s lives. I am mainly interested in capturing moments that include people. I prefer taking unexpected photographs rather than creating a scene.
Do you always have your camera on you?
Yes, if I’m in the mood to capture a moment. Imagine that, even my wife once said “my first wife is a camera” because the camera always comes with me wherever I go.
Could you share with us the story behind this photo?
It is a photo of children climbing Areca tree. Areca tree climbing is held once a year to coincide with the celebration of the independence of the Republic of Indonesia. Almost every city in Indonesia holds a Areca climbing event on Independence Day.
Which methods do you prefer in order to promote your work?
Honestly, I don’t have any specific method in order to promote my work. I just keep working with honesty and I let life guide me.
What are your photographic plans in the near future?
This is a question that keeps me motivated. My dream has not yet come true. I want a sponsor to finance my solo exhibition of my work. I think every photographer’s biggest dream is to be remembered for his work when he is gone.
All photos belongs to @Bob Matkodak/Fitri Dianata Putra