Kakek- The story behind the picture

Bali Interiors- Sheila Man
Bali Interiors- Sheila Man
Bali Interiors- Sheila Man
Bali Interiors- Sheila Man
Bali Interiors- Sheila Man

My family portrait on the Ceremony day

Bali Interiors- Sheila Man

Our Kakek photo on Melbourne’s cafe Against The Grind

In photography, just like in any creative business or art, magic happens when you least expect it. And this is exactly what happened one ordinary day a few years ago.

We had just finished renovating a villa in Canggu (what a learning experience!), and as is customary in Bali, a ceremony takes place to bless the building. The local family who owns the land invited us along with their family, friends and neighbors. A fledgling photographer at that time, I decided to take my good camera to the ceremony to snap some great memories and beautiful Balinese traditions.

A big fan of ceremonies in general and traditional costumes of any kind, I was so happy to see everyone dressed up for the occasion (including ourselves). In general, I’m quite shy at taking portraits of people as I feel like I’m invading their privacy.  Perhaps it’s a reflection of how I feel when someone takes my picture. So, I don’t usually ask someone to pose for me, unless it is my job to do so.

But this sunny afternoon, filled with chants, music, food and tradition as the new villa was blessed, I saw a beautiful charismatic old man.  He happened to be the father of the owner of the house. As soon as I saw him, I knew I had to take his picture. Sometimes my photographic instincts outweigh my normal self. I approached him and timidly asked if I could take his portrait.

To my surprise, the family was so happy that I would take his picture that they immediately obliged. I asked him to stand in front of the villa’s freshly-painted white wall. His adult son stood by his side. I took a portrait of both of them, but I really wanted a photo of the grandfather (kakek) by himself. I gently asked if it was possible for just him to pose. Of course, they said. I only took two or three photos of him.

A few days later, I went through the photos and found his portrait. I immediately loved it. I turned it into black and white and it took on a life of its own. I knew it was special – one of those magic shots that just happen out of the blue. I ended up printing it and hanging it in the villa on the very spot I took it. It sits there to this very day and it feels like the very soul of the house lays in that print of a proud kakek.

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