Meet Gede and Putu.
In 2014 I met Gede in his village, Penempahan, during a full moon ceremony. You may remember I mentioned Gede being the one who welcomed me into his village’s Temple and explained what the ceremony meant. That very same day, Gede shared with me his main goal in life which is to help preserve Balinese culture and tell the story of Bali. This story of Bali is one away from the beach resorts and the one the Balinese genuinely live.
Gede was 22 years old at the time. As I listened, I couldn’t help but think I don’t know anyone in this world who is 22 with such a lofty goal as Gede’s. That day I gave Gede my camera and told him to capture as much as he could with the camera, then send it to me via email. After the ceremony finished, I left the village thinking I would either hear from Gede or I wouldn’t.
After returning home I didn’t give much thought to our conversation. I only recalled what a splendid experience being in the village had been. Then out of the blue and months later, I received an email from Gede. Included in his email were at least a hundred photographs and short video clips. I just smiled. Needless to say, I was impressed by the amount of work he had done.
At this point, I knew Gede was serious and there was absolutely no way I would not help him achieve his goal. About six months after this, I returned to Bali with Gede’s own new camera in hand. Our journey began. I taught Gede the fundamentals of photography and he taught me a whole lot about Bali and Balinese Hinduism.
Putu is Gede’s cousin. He would join us for each outing and it turns out Putu has a keen interest in filmmaking. I have to be honest. I only taught these young men what the buttons are for on the cameras. Innately, they have an unmeasurable amount of talent. Their eye for photography and video is greater than most people I know. Their talent no longer surprises me but it does keep me in awe.
I began working with these young men in Bali teaching them the art of photography. The truth is they are teaching me more than I am teaching them. Through the process, they have become my brothers. Gede and Putu truly are Bali photography masters and I am fortunate to know them.
When you travel to areas of the world, where life is different as are opportunities, it is difficult for this gentleman not to want to give back. I like to share my knowledge, and if I can, I’ll do everything possible to help others advance themselves or achieve their dreams. I’m not foolish to think I can change the world; this is impossible. What I can do is give others the tools to change their world.
Open eyes, an open heart, believing in others, respect and a bit of compassion can make a difference in other people’s lives. It is easy to walk away from a place where you travel and make memories with you. Next time, please remember you, too, can make a huge difference even with small gestures.