Nyimas Laula


Nyimas Laula is an Indonesian photographer whose works focuses on stories around culture shifting, human rights, and environmental issues across the country. Her work has been published on Reuters, The New York Times, National Geographic Indonesia Magazine, Time Magazine, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal and many more. One of her photographs featured on a collective exhibition in Photoville in New York in 2017.

What was your latest book discovery? What are your favorite books of all time?

I'm currently reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, recently done reading Kabar Dari Timur by Fatris MF.
It's difficult to name favorite books at all time but I love the late-Stephen Hawking book A Brief History of Time, Michio Kaku's Parallel Worlds and Vision, Richard Dawkins's The Blind Watchmaker, which I find really fascinating learning about the vast and small universe at the same time.
Indonesia Etc by Elizabeth Pisani is the book I always revisit once in a while to find inspiration for stories in Indonesia.

Most visited blogs, websites? : 

The New York Times Lens Blog


Honoring The Goddesses: Sang Hyang Dedari” is about relation between human and nature that belongs in a well-known Indonesia’s paradise and the Island of Gods, Bali. It was the roots of Balinese dances, a well-known sacred ritual that was practiced across the island to repel disease and bless the harvest, but as it becomes less relevant, only one remain survives. The island inhabitants slowly left their core of philosophy, leaving the island built by massive concrete to please the world’s hunger for pleasure. Sang Hyang Dedari becomes a lesson about, a lifestyle that is so primal, but could possibly be the option of environmental issue that rises along with mass tourism. The project becomes a witness on struggle to preserve a communal identity within the fast changing modern lifestyle that competes to reap profits from other’s visitation.
When the rice paddy has grained, Sang Hyang Dedari is held at a village in the slope of Mt. Agung, Geriana Kauh. Geriana Kauh has become the only village where Sang Hyang Dedari sacred ritual is successfully revived after more than 30 years of absence. During the ritual absence, the village agriculture was damaged by pests, drought, and the harvest was not fruitful, the villagers admit they had experienced harvesting empty rice grains.
Sang Hyang Dedari sacred dance ‘performed’ by girls who haven’t reached their puberty. The girls danced during trance; moving wildly with their eyes closed alongside the chanting (gending), without practice and without formation. The movement is a movement of heart-arises without consideration-which is believed to be triggered by the Goddesses that possessed their body.
The project wants to answer on question how the generation of youth in Geriana Kauh village sees the culture, would they still practice the sacred ritual in the next decade to come?

What apps do you use the most and why?

WhatsApp, and Instagram, the easiest way to connect with friends and families separated by distance.

Whats currently on your playlist?

I'm laughing filling this question because I consider myself as a bad music listener. I don't discover music a lot so currently I only listen to Sleeping At Last's Astronomy playlist.
I always fascinated by astronomy events, I guess we all do, and to be accompanied by music which explores the feeling to such events is I think quite an extraordinary experience. My heart expand every time I hear the music.

What records would you recommend to hear?

I enjoy a lot listening to instrumental songs a lot from Hans Zimmer, Ramin Djawadi, and again Sleeping at Last especially when I'm editing pictures which I find it helps setting the mood without distracting with the lyrics. My most looped songs from all time would be Incubus' Morning View, A Crow Left of The Murder, Light Grenades, Eddie Vedder's Into The Wild songs, Family of The Year's Hero from Boyhood and whole Loma Vista album, Joanna Wang's Vincent, Ben Howard’s Old Pine, Jon Brion's Little Person.

Fresh movie finds? What films do you think everybody should watch?

I still think Sex Education is a must watch. As a person who grow up in the community which (still) consider sex as a taboo and have barely sex education, it's really interesting to watch!
I love Dark and its concept of parallel time.

Which artists working today do you admire most?

I Nyoman Nuarta, Stephanie Sarley on her Fruit Art Videos, Yayoi Kusama, Marina Abramovic.
And the deceased Vincent Van Gogh, Vermeer, Sandro Boticelli, Monet, S. Sudjojono, Basuki Abdullah, and many more.


What are some of your tv top tips right now?

Now I could blabber for days, (excuse me).
I'm a fan of any criminal related tv series and documentary such as Mindhunter, Manhunt: Unabomber, Making A Murderer, True Detective, The Fall, The Keepers, Breaking Bad (!!), Dexter, Bones, and the lists goes on.

Who are you following?

My instagram @nyimaslaula is filled with a mix of everything, published pictures, outtakes during an assignments or my day to day life when I'm not working (also cats). I follow broad spectrum of works from diverse field, from photojournalism to art, to give me broader inspiration that I can implement to my future works. I love @phmuseum, @maggiesteber, @alessiaglaviano, @carlotta_guerrero, @daily_paintings, @lakinogunbanwo, @htrgnc, @lisa.sorgini, @yagazieemezi, @signsofyouridentity, @adrianazehbrauskas, @womenphotograph, @girlgaze, @anastasiatl, @k_koenning and many more.

What tools do you use in your work?

I mostly use Adobe Lightroom on daily basis, but I recently discover using Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw is easier without importing through a catalog, as I don't tone too much on my pictures.
I use Canon 5D Mark IV with 35mm prime lens and Fuji XT2 on 18-55mm kit lens on slower days.

What magazines / newspapers do you read regularly?

National Geographic
The New York Times
DestinAsian Indonesia.

What are your favorite gadgets?

I use 511 RUSH 12 backpacks and Bail Out Bag 9L with custom pads for my camera, I find it very ergonomics to my back and shoulder, has many pockets, so it helps me a lot when I have to go around during an assignment. Also the size push me to only bring what's necessary on the field, 1 body with 1 lens attached and 1 additional lens. For reporting, I always use Moleskine A5 lined Volant journal which can fits into my pocket, Muji Gel Ink Pen 0.5 in blue which can last for 2 years!
I always wondered why photographers rarely talk about self-care, I find it taking time to take care of my body during tough assignment days helps me to relieve a little bit of stress and give myself some reward after a long day.
I always bring a damn good face mask with me if I fly outside my home base, which can help me to relax after a long day of shooting, my favorite is Fresh Rose Face Mask and Umbrian Clay Mask. I have very dry demanding skin so I always bring Burt's Bees Lipbalm everywhere with me for my forever dry and chapped lip and Herbivore Phoenix Facial Oil, applied with Jade Face Roller really helps me to slow down and relax.


Nyimas Laula


Portrait image by © Danar Tri Atmojo