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This blog is intended to showcase my pictures or those of other photographers who have moved beyond the pretty picture and for whom photography is more than entertainment - photography that aims at being true, not at being beautiful because what is true is most often beautiful..

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Rarindra Prakarsa

I am from Jakarta, Indonesia. A country with million place and object to photograph. A beautiful country indeed. Now, I am a semi-pro photographer, enjoying my job/hobby & selling my stock-photo. Photographing since 1995.

As many of you already know, I am NOT a fan of sentimental tripe photography-wise. I find the legions of drama-queen landscape/nature photographers, who spew out endless reams of images of a world made up of never-ending golden light vistas, to be a particulary unimaginative and contemptible lot of eco-pornographers. My issue with them is not with their style of photography per se, but rather with what I (and many others) believe to be the detrimental effect that their photography has on conservation and the evironmental cause - "...picture-book nature, scenic and sublime, praiseworthy but not battle-worthy. Tarted up into perfectly circumscribed simulations of the wild, these props of mainstream environmentalism serve as surrogates for real engagement with wilderness, the way porn models serve as surrogates for real women. They are placebos substituting for triage." - Lydia Millet, High Country News (the eco-pornographer link goes to the complete article).

But, back to Rarindra Prakarsa's photographs. When I first encountered these photographs in his portfolio on, I got all flustered and flummoxed. I'm not suppose to like this stuff - altered and romanticized landscapes littered with incessantly picture-book perfect children. Yikes!! How many cliches can you cram in a single photograph?

But, so help me, like the proverbial car wreck scene, I couldn't stop looking. And looking. And looking.

So, I emailed Rarindra and asked, ...what is your artistic intent with these photographs? The response - "Thank you for enjoying my pictures. You should visit my beautiful country someday." - really didn't answer the question other than to reinforce the initial impression created by his photographs that his country is beautiful.

He did give me permission to post them on The Landscapist, so here they are. I think they are pertinent because, take out the kiddies, they are classic landscape photographs albeit in a rather romanticized genre. With the kiddies they become something else...

I am beginning to see them as a sort of children's fable in the style of the illustrator Chris Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and The Polar Express (especially his style as adapted for the movie). As in many of Van Allsburg's illustrations, in Rarindra's photographs much is left to the observer's imagination to fill in the "blanks". For me, there is a sense of mystery about them. I am drawn into a world that's a little off-kilter where something's going on that I can't quite grasp and, for some reason that I can't quite express yet, they seem to be something more than just sentimental idyllics.

For all I know, maybe Rarindra's intent with these photographs is nothing more than an attempt to create hyper-Kodak/Hallmark moments. Perhaps because of language issues, he didn't really respond to my question about intent.

Nevertheless, I am very eager to hear your thoughts on these photographs.

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    Photography that aims at being true, not at being beautiful because, what is true most often is beautiful. - My Blogspot Archives on SquareSpace - Rarindra Prakarsa

Reader Comments (7)

These are really quite intriging. With the term that arose recently of "deathscapes", I would consider these "dreamscapes".
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJim Jirka
These are compelling in terms of the man/nature, child/nature connection but something about the cheeriness of the light doesn't sit well with me. However, I can't imagine these images without that light. I am most drawn to the top image I think because the family seems so immersed in their surroundings, as if the tree was part of the furniture of their life--which it might just be. I wonder if these were set-up or spontaneously shot.
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermary dennis
Jim and Mary said it well, these are compelling dreamscapes created (I'm sure they were posed) by someone who understands emotional pulls. By going so far over the top, he captures my immediate fascination, but loses a shot at my sustained interest. I admire the skill, but I'll never purchase one. However, I'm pretty sure he'll have a positive effect on a lot more people through his photography than I ever will through mine. No regrets, that's just how it is.
January 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Durbin
These remind me of the paintings of Thomas Kincaid ("painter of light"), which I find to be too sentimental for my taste. Designed to make us feel snug and secure in a world that is all sweet and charming, which it isn't.
January 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRosie Perera

I feel Rarindra's photographs are the fruits of person's mental imagery of what they wish the world was. These pictures are so unreal that you feel like you just listened to your grandmother narrating a firytale - and immidiately after - reality hits.
Rarindra's work, I am sure is hanging from many walls as 'beautiful pictures' but I wouldn't miss them ever if he decides one day that he is done with this type of imagery.

August 8, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterArindam Das

I really like your comparison with Chris Van Allsburg, and your description of something else going on in the world of the photos that you can't quite grasp. My initial reaction was, Woah, too Thomas Kincaide... but after letting the images register more completely in my brain, I feel like there is something else there. I'm trying to put my finger on it but can't. Less cozy? I dunno. But Chris Van Allsburg-esque, definitely.

February 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterchantelle

I do agree with the overall consensus that these images seem overly romanticized, but it almost doesn't matter - they are so absolutely well done that they rise above the negative comparison to Kinkade-like imagery. You can't help but appreciate how "perfect" these things are. Now normally I would hate this sort of thing - but ....... if you totally avoided cliche, then you are as much a slave to it as those who can't think outside it. Cliches' exist for a reason - and if they're done well, hey - they work.

But a little goes a long way, and it might not take long before I felt the need to pull one of these babies down from my living room wall - it's a tricky one. Even though I appreciate the "artistry" involved in creating these images - I really tend to savor the "imperfect" parts of any piece of art (or people for that matter). It's there that we make more of a connection with the imperfect nature of "life", and the person on the other-side of that canvas, paper, sculpture, photograph, etc,. It's like a mini-window in to the chaotic nature of the creative process and the artists own character. It's like a confirmation of our own imperfections - but in a good way.

He's got a good eye, can't deny that, and he certainly knows classic composition. Maybe that's what it is - he just does those things so very very well you can't help but appreciate them. hmmmmm, still scratching my head on this one.

February 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Turner

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