Hidden Bali Photo Tour Workshop

From start to finish, Luminous Bali was impeccably researched, planned and executed with a rich, full and unique itinerary that left no photographic stone unturned. —  Lee Ann Birkenstock, USA

David-Lazar_Bio Photo_Bali2Are you ready for the best Bali photo tour ever created? Ready to photograph HIDDEN Bali on a photo tour jam packed with rare image making opportunities? We emphasize "hidden" so you know we don't venture anywhere near Tourist Central, which has nothing to do with the real Bali or this photo tour. What multi-major award winning photographer & National Geographic contributor David Lazar has designed for you is nothing less than  exceptional.  With the help of one of Bali’s finest lensmen & great personalities in Dukun Jawa, along with guidemaster Pande Sura, you are assured of an unparalleled, Bali photo tour experience. No hype.

Beyond Bali’s well-worn tourist spots, Luminous Bali is a 2-island, 12-day journey off-the-beaten-path and into the true heart of the Island of the Gods. Bali may be most famous for its honeymooners, lush rainforests, beaches, ethereal green rice terraces & soaring volcanoes, but the island also incredibly rich from a cultural perspective, and people photography will feature prominently as well.


In addition, this unique Bali photo tour offers two very special events to which you will have exclusive or preferred access and freedom to photograph. They are the exciting and colorful buffalo bull races near Negara, and traditional Balinese Dancers during private dance performances – Ramayana, Fire, Kecak and Legong. This includes portrait sessions in natural settings; an ancient rainforest temple and rice terraces. There will also be an adventure to the neighboring island of Java, where you’ll have the chance to photograph the otherworldly volcano-scape of Mt. Bromo, as well as native Tengger horsemen & horses with breathtaking backdrops.


“David Lazar and his team at Luminous Journeys know what it takes to put together the perfect photo tour. After first traveling with A.P. Soe & then with David Lazar in Bali, I can say they are experts at searching out locations that yield the best photos and are sure to get you there in the very best light… He (David) is very generous with his knowledge of photography and always put our photos ahead of his own. Anyone fortunate enough to travel with David or any of the Luminous Photography team is in for a real treat.” – Susan Flickinger, USA


Luminous Journeys’ “prime directive” is to always put our guests’ image making first and foremost, thereby ensuring the utmost out of your Bali photo tour experience. Any photographer, novice to advanced, stands to gain a quite a lot from working with an outstanding professional and all around great guy like David Lazar. Whatever your goals are for the tour, he will do his absolute best to help you achieve them. These might include capturing certain images, learning more about working with various kinds of light, getting better with camera settings, composition, camera techniques, Photoshop tips & tricks, etc. Image review is also available on request.


Be sure to check out this excellent David Lazar article and photographs about Bali published by Photography Life magazine.

Hotels – Generally Balinese style 4/5 star. Clean 2/3 star in more remote locations, like Mt. Bromo. You will not be disappointed even in those, as the settings are spectacular

Tour Type – Small group photo tour workshop, 4 person minimum, 10 person maximum.* See T&C

Skill Level – Suitable for ALL skill levels, novice to advanced. Novices will never feel left behind, and advanced shooters never held back

Physical Difficulty – Light to Moderate, with minimal mountain walking

Transportation – 1 internal flight to Java + Return, late model air conditioned vans w/ plenty of space

Highlights – Hidden Bali Photo Tour

Balinese Dancers, Private Photo Shoot

Spectacular Mountain Rice Terraces

Traditional Buffalo Race Action Shoot

4 Nights Private, 5-star Villa in Paradise

Java & the Surreal Mt. Bromo Volcano

Gorgeous Monkey Rainforest

Bali Aga – Original Tribe

The Tengger Horsemen of Java

The Beautiful People of Bali!

Itinerary Brief

Bali Photo Tour Adventure

A-little-Legong-dancer-at-temple-taken-on-Bali-photo-tourDay 1 – Sanur – Introductions & Traditional Dancers!
A “get acquainted” slideshow with David is followed by your first privately arranged photo shoot in a nearby village. Three lovely Ramayana dancers in full costume will be at your service both on stage and in a rice paddy setting. Also present will be 20 male Kecak & Fire dancers! The big show & shoot follows, then back to the beach for your special welcome dinner.

Day 2 – Sanur – Java – Fishermen Sunrise and a Volcano Surreal
Rise before dawn to catch the picturesque action of a fishermen’s net catching the rising sun… Breakfast @ the hotel followed by a short flight to Java, drive and trek to incredible Mt. Bromo. No worries, the trekking is easy. Afternoon/sunset volcano-scapes suitable for framing ? Your hotel for the night rests beautifully on the rim of a volcano!

Tengger-horseman-with-horse-on-volcao-slope-during-Bali-photo-tourDay 3 – Java – Bali – Of Volcanoes & Horses
I love the smell of Bromo in the morning! Short drive to a new high angle location for a Landscaper’s dream shoot to delight your senses as well as your sensors. Enjoy a hearty breakfast back at the hotel, then it’s time to meet Java’s master horsemen, the Tenger. You’ll get the chance to photograph the Tenger with their horses with some incredible mountain backdrops before the return trip to Bali.

Bali Photo TourDay 4 – East Bali – Traditional Workshop & Tukad Unda
This morning is a chance to sleep in after the very early hours spent on Java. Late morning visit a Gamelan Workshop for some colorful environmental portraiture with a variety or artisans and percussion instrument makers. This afternoon’s shoot is with local kids at the Tukad Unda “waterfalls”, which is always great fun.

Day 5 – East Bali – Salt Farmers, Bats & Original People
This morning photograph Bali’s salt farmers in action, then head for a facinating temple that houses tens of thousands of holy bats! After a wonderful Balinese lunch we head for Tengannan and the Bali Aga people. The Bali Aga are the island’s original tribe, with only a few thousand of them remaining. Here we will take advantage of the village’s inimitable temple and other unique backgrounds for late afternoon environmental portraits and more.

Rice-terraces-and-a-volcano-on-Bali-photo-tourDay 6 – East Bali – Rice Terraces & the Mother Temple
Another exhilarating sunrise, this time photographing one of the great rice terrace scenes anywhere on earth, backed by the island’s biggest volcano. After breakfast with a glorious view, it will be off to Bali’s legendary “Mother Temple”, Besakih. Afternoon drive to the little visited (good for us!) but fantastic rice terrace area of Pupuan for landscapes, and landscapes with a human element.

Rice-terraces-and-boys-playing-with-waterDay 7 – West Bali – Pupuan Dawn to the Buffalo Coast
Since rice farmers are not often evident except at planting & harvest, we will have arranged for some to join us this morning in order to add interest and color (other than gorgeous rice green!) to your compositions. Many rice fields are easily accessible in this area, so you are free to roam as you will as well. Breakfast and free time until the drive to Negara on the west coast for late afternoon seascapes.

Buffalo-racing-in-the-water-on-Bali-is-rareDay 8 – West Bali – Buffalo Morning, 5-Star Evening
This is a rare opportunity to capture some incredible culture in action images. We will attend a publicly held traditional buffalo race with VIP photography and behind the scenes access. After the race is free time before heading off to the most beautiful Balinese villa you can imagine, complete with spa and world class chef. Be sure and schedule your complimentary 1 hour massage!

A-little-girl-dancing-kin-light-rays-on-Bali-photo-tourDay 9 – Central Bali Of Kings, Gods and Chiaroscuro
Indra, the King of Gods, is said to have pierced the earth at Tirta Empul to create the spring that feeds the ancient purification baths. Photograph Balinese here and in other ceremonies around the grounds. Fun loving Balinese shooter Dukun Jawa will join. Later shoot at Dukun’s house w/ two Legong dancers, rainforest canopy light, and local kids at jungle river pool.

Dick-Beilby-Luminous-Journeys-Balinese-martial-art Day 10 – Central Bali – Arts Fusion & the Digital Darkroom                      Early morning at the villa there will be a Balinese style martial arts performance & photography, followed by a breakfast fit for paradise.  Then for all those interested, there will be a comprehensive Photoshop/Lightroom session with David. A professional Balinese model will arrive in the afternoon for various shoots around the villa and villa grounds, including rice paddies.

Bali Photo Tour Day 11 – Rice Women, Monkey Forest & Farewell Pool Party
Sunrise at the spectacular Ceking rice terraces as the first rays of the sun break over them. Beautiful & photogenic Ceking grandmas will provide a human element, & engage in portrait sessions afterward. Then explore an off-the-beaten path monkey forest, where macaque families w/ young babies play. Late afternoon at the villa brings your farewell pool party w/ Balinese seafood BBQ prepared by our world class chef. Local child dancers will perform, and gamelan music will play…

Bali-Market-ladiesDay 12 – Free Time, Relaxed Departure
Since you absolutely will not to want to leave, the villa owner has graciously offered us a very relaxed departure schedule in which to slowly tear yourself away. So if your flight is an evening one, no worries, you may depart the villa as late as 5 pm. In the meantime relax by the pool, enjoy the spa facilities, or get some image processing done. Your new good friend Pande will take you to the airport and bid you a fond farewell. You will miss this place!

*We have great confidence that Luminous Bali is easily the best photo tour workshop ever run on the island, and will be a very pleasant surprise even for you hard core travel photographers out there who think it might be too tame or touristy. It is ABSOLUTELY NOT. If David were not excited about this tour, and if we had not gotten such great feedback from some very fine photographer participants, we wouldn’t be doing it 🙂


**Please note the above itinerary is a brief sample only, with daily shooting schedules subject to change. A fully detailed itinerary and 30+ page information kit concerning traveling for photography in Bali will be sent to all registered participants approximately 100 days prior to tour start date.


***All photographs are by Luminous Journeys photographers or participants. Photo Credit: Day 3 – Rahmad Hidayat. Day 10 – Richard Beilby

What’s Included in the Price of Your Bali Photo Tour?


 Photographer fees and top English speaking               guide

 All accommodation

 In-country flights, airport & ground transport,            inc. airport transfers

 All meals from dinner Day 1 through breakfast            Day 12

 Plenty of bottled water throughout

 All entrance, zone and camera fees

 Local model/location donations


 International airfare

 Extra drinks @ lunches & dinners (1 soda or                fruit juice is included)

 Personal purchases

 Trip cancellation or medical insurance

 Medical expenses

 Gratuities – porters, local guide/driver

 Indonesia visa fee

 End of trip gratuities - photo tour leader

Getting Cultural

More Knowledge – Better Pictures

Bali Aga bridesmaids

Original People – The Bali Aga

The Bali Aga are indigenous to Bali and predate recorded history, whereas the bulk of the population arrived from other islands over time dating back some 2,000 years. Youngsters by comparison! The Bali Aga now live mostly in the Karangasem area of east Bali, in two main villages – Tengannan & Trunyan. The latter is more strict and not especially welcoming of outsiders, but both have well preserved ancient cultures.

Tengannan is actually two villages, and with its vast rice paddy terraces the richest. It has only recently opened up to tourists but has clearly embraced its visitors. Tengannan inhabitants tend to be taller than most Balinese, with light skin and refined manners.

Bali Aga villages are protected by a solid wall surrounding the entire village. They have 4 gates, north, south, east and west, and inside each is a giant, sacred Banyan tree. Bali Aga life is even more relion centric than of Bali in general, which is saying quite a lot. Everything they do is in service to others and/or the gods.

Visit this website for more information on the Bali Aga.

Culture of Ceremony

It seems quite true what they tell you, that no day on the Island of the Gods passes without some ceremony somewhere. The first ceremony of every new family compound, is to bless the earth where the family temple will be built.

Every 210 days thereafter, an Odalan ceremony is held in honor of the temple gods. This is true for village temples as well, and each village has a minimum of three major temples. Nobody can possibly keep track of all the ceremonies on the island, and you often happen upon one in progress. There are certain periods where you see more than usual, on full moons in April and October especially.

Children have 10 ceremonies before the age of 20, the first before birth, with 6 more before the ripe old age of 6 months! Menuk Kelih, puberty rites, are performed after first menstruation for girls, and for boys, after his voice cracks. At this point they are considered adults, and in the old days, ready for marriage.

Bali culture of ceremony by
6. David Lazar Bali - Portraits

What’s Up with Balinese Names?

It is said that the Balinese tradition of naming children originated as a gentle form of population control awareness, as generally only 7 names are possible.

First born children are all named Putu or Wayan, which have the same meaning but is caste differentiated. Second born are dubbed Made or Kadek, third Nyoman or Komang, and the fourth and supposedly last, Ketut. If a family has a 5th child, they start over again at Putu/Wayan. These are legal first names, and as anywhere nicknames are common, and with 4 million people on the island, well…

And yes, these names are unisex, and it is therefore possible for a brother and sister to have the exact same name, most likely, Putu or Wayan. If you meet a brother and sister named Ketut, you know they come from a huge family! In some areas of Bali it should be noted, the first born name for boys is Gede, and for girls, Luh. The second born name is Nengah, and it is unisex. Balinese photographer Dukun Jawa & son are pictured left. Dukun is a nickname, his real first name is Nyoman.