Each year, the island of Bali is imprinted by the footprints of over 7.2 million human beings. About 4.2 million of them are locals and about 3 million of them are foreign tourists. Despite all the commonalities and differences between these beings, one thing is for sure: they all have a different Bali story. Who they are, what they love, and what they see. In our series, From The Lens, we showcase the galleries of individuals who have stepped behind a lens and snapped Bali through their eyes. From a local grom with a disposable camera, to a professional with the latest DSLR, with every Tom, Dick and Wayan in between.
Bali as seen by photographer Ben McNamara.
Who are you?
I’m a Melbourne based travel photographer and creative with a love of street food, cheap local rums and hunting down a nice little afternoon adventure.
What do you do?
I’m a photographer, film-maker, illustrator, designer and painter. I run a little studio from Melbourne called OhMy! along with freelancing and travelling throughout the year. At any given time I’m designing album covers, creating short films, staying up late illustrating portraits or spending hours in front of Lightroom processing shots from my latest trip. I’m ridiculously lucky to be able to ‘make pictures’ for a living and get the opportunity to travel at the same time.
What do you love about Bali?
Its ability to be so chilled out, crazy, eclectic and cultured all in one little space. One place that made me LOVE Bali was a little art gallery in Ubud which was all about anti-art. There’s waaay too many places selling the same buddha head paintings and so seeing local, fresh, passionate, modern and confronting art was really inspiring. It peeled away a few of the more polished layers of the tourist hotspot and gave the whole community a bit more of depth and identity. It started a bit of a romance with Bali, it was exciting to search out what is really hidden beneath the $5 buckets of Bintang, cheap t-shirts and scooter rides.
Top 3 hangouts?
1. Un-known little nameless Art Gallery ( corner JL Gutama and JL Raya Buta in Ubud) It’s a tiny concrete shop with some of the weirdest art you’ll ever see out front. Paint is splattered everywhere and it’s super raw. Some of the artworks are really horrible, but some are such awesome insights into the mind of the locals and have a really high energy. You can’t help but be intrigued. 2. The whole of Ubud. Ridiculously great food. Yes. Beautiful scenery and walks. Yes. Relaxed atmosphere whilst still having somewhere to drink and party at night. Yes. Abundance of Yoga Studios. Yes. Perfect chilled out getaway. Yes. 3. Nusa Penida Waterfall Pool. Found down the side of a huge cliff, accesible by only steep, broken and rusty iron stairs, is this gem of a hangout pool. It was an epic and slightly dangerous trek (especially with some expensive camera gear) but sitting at the base of a ridiculously massive cliff, in these natural baths was well worth it. A gang of hardass kids with drawn on tattoos and cigarettes also made the trip pretty amusing as they tried to get their best ‘fight-club’ persona on.
Best piece of travel advice?
Instead of getting frustrated, anxious, angry, confused or concerned…just laugh. It’s probably not that big of a deal and you’ll feel better after laughing. Photographers….don’t be lazy with dumping cards and getting backups…having to manually delete infividual photos on your camera to make room for that one last killer shot isn’t ideal (especially when you’ve left empty cards back at the hotel).