Interview with Photographer – Angga Pratama

Models – Hélène Jansen and Fahrani Empel for GQ Italy 

DJ Cobalt 60: Why do you love creating images and given its frequency in your work what fascinates you so much about the female form?

Angga Pratama: I guess it’s because I can freeze time and capture the feeling at that moment on a relatively permanent basis.

Models – Hélène Jansen and Fahrani Empel for GQ Italy 

Women inspire and give me energy. I don’t know what to say, they are just so beautiful.

DJ Cobalt 60: At what point did you actually start to feel like you could make a go of it as a photographer? I know you never originally went to school to become a photographer, you only discovered the medium through wanting to learn how to make films and as crazy as it may sound, especially now looking at how accomplished your work is, you once had a teacher describe your photos as “raping the rules of photography”.

Angga Pratama: Definitely 2013 – five years after I finished photography school, that’s when I started making real money from only photography. Before that I always had other shitty jobs to pay the bills. 

DJ Cobalt 60: Having moved from Indonesia to the Netherlands when you were teenager and then finding yourself as an adult traveling back to Indonesia to take photos, culturally where do you consider your home to be, do you think you kind of bring a more gray or nuanced perspective of Indonesia to your photography because you’ve lived outside of the country, somewhere between the way a local and a foreigner might see things.

Model – Inka Fitria, Stylist – Kelly Ariella, Hair and Makeup – Inka Fitria and Nastia Dekinova for Flofferz Magazine

Angga Pratama: A nuanced perspective of Indonesia, somewhere between the way a local and a foreigner might see things. That’s exactly it man, I couldn’t said it better. But it’s still a place I call home.

DJ Cobalt 60: Last thing that inspired you creatively?

Angga Pratama: I shot with someone the other day for an exhibition. It was amazing to see how confident and free this person is. That truly inspired me.

DJ Cobalt 60: What’s your set-up like? How has is evolved over the years? Do you think you’ll always have the ability to choose film over digital as an option?

Angga Pratama: My first camera was a Nikon F100. During my second year of study, all students had to buy a digital camera, so I sold the F100 and got a Nikon D70. That was my setup for a while plus a Yashica T4. I sold my digital camera right after I graduated in 2008.

Right now I use Contax G2, Yashica T4, Olympus mju II and Fujifilm Instax.

Model Natascha Elisa from “Room 421” for No Thoughts Magazine

Yes, I think I will always be able to choose film over digital but lately I’ve been shooting a bit of digital again. It’s like you can cruise in an old Vespa and even if you’re content with it, you’ll probably never win a Grand Prix. Sometimes you just gotta, you know?

DJ Cobalt 60: I want to ask you about your editorial for Sticks and Stones Agency in partnership with Culture Machine titled “All Wet”. I love those photos, there amazing. I thought it was great that Culture Machine asked Sticks and Stones to provide you with 5 limitations for the shoot. When you became aware of the constraints you had to work with how did you approach building an editorial around them? One of the main reasons I enjoy the images and your work in general is because of their uniqueness, as an artist how do you try to fight against complacency? 

Models (top to bottom) – Pascale Hunt and Hélène Jansen, Creative Direction – Yasmin Suteja, Stylist – Georgina Amanda Solomon, Hair and Makeup – Kat O’Hara for Sticks and Stones Agency 

Angga Pratama: Thanks man. I think the main reason why it worked well is because we had a great team and everyone was really into it.

Models – Hélène Jansen and Pascale Hunt, Creative Direction – Yasmin Suteja, Stylist – Georgina Amanda Solomon, Hair and Makeup – Kat O’Hara for Sticks and Stones Agency

I don’t try to fight against complacency. If you’re happy with your work then why not just be. There’s no point on doing something else just for the sake of being different.   

DJ Cobalt 60: How do you like to direct your models? You’ve spoken before how it doesn’t really matter how beautiful your model is the most important thing for you is that you click with the person who you are photographing (no pun intended). Are you normally able to distinguish if you are going to gel with someone prior to a shoot? How do you like to break the ice with someone you’ve never photographed before?

Angga Pratama: If I know exactly what shot I want, I’ll direct them to do exactly that but when you want something unusual, you ease up to that shot you really want. The best shots are the ones that happens organically without much direction.

I like to meet the models before the day of the shoot to break the ice and get to know them better but you don’t always have that luxury. Most of the time I can feel if it would click right after meeting the person I’m shooting, but sometimes I think it’s going to be great and the model turned out to be a stiff when the camera comes out, so you never know for sure. Challenges are good though, it keeps you sharp.

DJ Cobalt 60: One of my favorite editorials of yours is the rejected set you did for Juice Magazine titled “Teenage Naughtiness”. The photos got pulled at the last minute due to the publication feeling they were “too graphic” Working in places like Indonesia were you can on occasion come up against censorship issues, do you ever consent to editing your work to tone it down or opt out of having it censored in any shape or form. Has a client ever asked you to re-shoot something?

From rejected “Teenage Naughtiness” editorial

Angga Pratama: Toning down because of censorship sucks because you want to show your work as they are but, sometimes it works out. I did a nude shoot for a magazine and wanted to publish a preview online. I printed the photo, censored the forbidden fruit areas with black tape and re-scanned them. It turned out pretty cool actually. Censorship against nudity is so crooked, I wish they had censorship against hypocrisy instead.

DJ Cobalt 60: What is an image of yours that you believe best represents your style and aesthetic and what was the situation surrounding it?

Angga Pratama: I’m not sure but that same censored image comes to mind. It’s a shot of a nude girl in a gallery on a block platform.

Model – Hélène Jansen, Photographed at Biasa Artspace for Tissue Magazine

DJ Cobalt 60: Given the opportunity to photograph any person living or dead who would you choose?

Angga Pratama: Siddharta Gautama when he was still living as a prince and after he became Buddha.

DJ Cobalt 60: Are you ever going to stop taking pictures at least for public consumption and transition into another field of artistic self-expression, do you want to expand into directing more music videos and making your own short films?

Angga Pratama: Don’t think I’ll ever stop taking pictures. Would love to direct more – there’s actually a project I’m working on where I’m directing again. Pretty stoked about that one.

I NEVER THOUGHT MY ART would be considered art.

THE SOUNDTRACK TO MY LIFE changes all the time. Right now it’s ‘” know There’s Gonna Be” by Jamie XX.

FILM I HAVE RE-WATCHED THE MOST is probably “Fight Club” and “Requiem For A Dream”.

THE LAST TIME A PHOTO LEFT ME SPEECHLESS hmm…I don’t remember.

MY IDEA OF SUCCESS is when you enjoy the present, don’t dwell on the past and overthink about the future.

Model – Nastia Dekinova, Photographed at SALT Studio for Tissue Magazine

DJ Cobalt 60: For people interested in learning more about you or your work where can they go?

Angga Pratama: My website is under construction at the moment but they can check out my blog www.angga13pratama.tumblr.com and Instagram @angga13pratama.

DJ Cobalt 60: Is there any you would like to thank who has supported you throughout your career or been instrumental to your career?

Angga Pratama: I’d like to thank my family and friends who has always supported and believed in me, but I’d also like to thank the people that never believed in me. It motivates me proving them wrong.

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