“Hike the mountains, run through the meadows, explore the forests, swim the sea, breathe the wild air, and gaze at the stars. That’s my life.”– Gagah
Awangga Kusumah, more familiarly known as Gagah, is a Bandung-based freelance photographer and graphic designer. With his inspiring story, he is determined to write a book about his passion of photography and traveling. Having a chance to talk with Gagah during his spare time on a train heading to his Rinjani trip, below is our conversation with @ghaghah24.
How do you initially begin to know photography and start traveling?
It was all started in 2008. I am a graphic designer. At that time, I was working on designing a menu book, peeking at the menu itself is interesting because it comprises a lot of wonderful snaps which inspires me to create great photographs. I am determine to save money to buy a DSLR camera that I sold my motorbike. Back when I began to learn photography, I tried to make a Milky Way shot and it felt great when I actually made it, also there weren’t many people doing it. I remembered the shot was taken at Warung Moko Daweung and it was the initial start to my travel which leads me to traveling across the nation to capture the Milky Way. I am hoping to publish a book one day called “100+ Milky Way of Indonesia.”
Could you mention one memorable place you have visited?
Rinjani mountain. For me, Rinjani is a five star mountain. It has everything; savannah, lake with plentiful of fish, hot spring with amazing view, waterfalls, and the undeniably beautiful view at the summit. Every time I think about my experience on the mountain, soaking myself in the hot spring, went fishing at the lake and grilled our catch while talking and laughing with friends, all those reminiscent moments of joy always make me wants to go back there, again and again.
Any destination that you’ve been dreaming of visiting?
Weh Island. I am really curious to get there, to the farthest western point of Indonesia, it has been my desire since 2013 but not yet realized. According to the stories of many people, besides of the beautiful scenery of the beaches and the underwater, the view of the sky at night is also known to be very beautiful, i really wanted to take shot of the Milky Way on there.
Judging from the many mountain photos on your Instagram, are you really a mountain person?
No, actually I much prefer the sea (not the beach) than the mountain. Because I have many friends who like to hike the mountain, I often to go traveling to the highlands and mountains with them. I love the diversity of underwater colors scenery, swim among the fishes, and see the delightful colors of the bio-marine lives. Therefore, I love free diving. I am not saying that the mountain is not attractive for me, I feel more fused with nature while at sea. Let’s say, at the sea we can swim with the fish, but we could not fly with the birds on the mountain. Hehehe
Why do you love traveling?
Traveling taught me to respect each other, nature, and other creatures of God. Through traveling, I learn a lot of lessons, which I hope someday I can pass on to my children and grandchildren. Like the quote from Aksa 7 that Iove, “Life is a journey, then do the journey for life”, I find that quote does represent me. And again, I was born in Indonesia, a country that offers beauty in many forms. And I wish to see them all.
What is Aksa 7?
Aksa 7 is a documentary movie about our expedition in 7 highest peaks in the 7 largest islands in Indonesia, or so-called Seven Summits of Indonesia. The idea comes from one of the film’s cinematographers “5 cm” and “Sagarmatha”, Anggi Frisca @cumitsky). The film was also made by 7 cameraman who all graduated from Jakarta Arts Institute, they all incorporated in Sendal Community (Seni dan Alam). I myself contribute as an admin of @aksa7art Instagram, official Instagram account of the Aksa 7. The film will be aired on the big screen on October 28, 2015.
What gadgets do you use in photography?
I am currently using the Canon 600D, Canon 6D, and iPhone 4s. Back in 2008, I also used the Canon 400D and then I upgraded to the Canon 500D.
What kind of photography do you do?
I love all genres of photography and already tried to do most of them. And from all the existing genres, I prefer nature photography. To produce a good work in nature photography, we need to involve many elements that exist in the nature. That’s why I love nature photography, because it can make me feel closer to The Creator of the nature itself.
What are the trips and tricks in your photography?
At the initial stage, we need to be sure that we really have passion in photography, and that we are eager to explore and learn more. Passion is important to begin with. In my opinion, it is not difficult to improve our skills. We can read a lot of magazines and reviews about nature and landscape photography, learn about photography techniques on the internet, and follow Instagram account that has nature and landscape photography on their feed. And of course we have to keep practice our skills, because practice makes better.
Can you tell us people who inspire you?
I am inspired by Don Hasman. He is a senior Indonesian photographer who pursues the field of etnophotography, where most of the objects are on remote areas throughout Indonesia.
In your opinion, what is the important thing to note when we’re traveling?
First thing first, always keep the area clean wherever you travel, everyone has the right to enjoy the beauty of the places and therefore everyone has an obligation to maintain the cleanliness and beauty of these places. Secondly, always keep safety as your priority during traveling. And third, you should be able and willing to communicate with many people while you’re on travel, because it can give you a lot of information. Sometimes, communication can be our savior when we’re having trouble during traveling. Do not tell yourself as a traveler if you are not trying to be nice and chatting people around you while traveling.
What do you think about Journesia?
Journesia is really cool! Overall, it’s different than the others. I hope Journesia will be successful and keep inspiring!